Intense rivalries set to scorch Qatar World Cup

Maradona and Voller
Argentina captain Diego Maradona and Germany's Rudi Voller in action in the 1986 World Cup final. File photo: AFP

One of the most intriguing aspects of the FIFA World Cup is fixtures between certain nations. These matches pump adrenaline as the tournament's excitement soars. There is always drama whenever the sides mentioned below meet. Their duels are part of the World Cup folklore. As Qatar 2022 is set to kick off on November 20, fans will have another chance to witness some of the most heated affairs in international football. Onmanorama takes a look at three such famous rivalries in World Cup history. If European champions Italy had qualified for this edition, this list of intense rivalries would have had more additions.

Argentina vs Germany

Messi and Hummels
Argentine captain Lionel Messi and Germany's Mats Hummels fight for possession in the 2014 World Cup final. File photo: AFP/Gabriel Bouys

The two heavyweights have faced each other seven times in the World Cup and fought three finals between them. Germany is ahead of Argentina 4-1 with two games ending in draws. Matches progressing to shootouts are considered as drawn by the FIFA regardless of the outcome.

The two locked horns for the first time in a World Cup in the 1958 edition. West Germany won the first round group match 3-1. The teams played out a goalless draw in a second round group match in 1966.

Diego Maradona's Argentina edged out West Germany 3-2 in a thrilling final to clinch the title at Mexico 86. The Germans had staged a remarkable comeback after being down 0-2. But Maradona's genius settled the final as Jorge Burruchaga netted the winner in the 83rd minute off a perfect through ball by the Argentine captain.

Four years later it was West Germany's turn to exact revenge as they won an ill-tempered final 1-0 at Italia 90. Andreas Brehme scored the all-important goal from the spot in the 85th minute.

The next meeting was in the quarterfinals in 2006. Hosts Germany got through 4-2 on penalties after it finished 1-1 at the end of extra time. 

Germany outplayed Maradona-coached Argentina 4-0 in the quarterfinals in 2010. The two locked horns again in the final four years later in Brazil. Germany came up trumps again, with Mario Gotze netting the winner in extra time to break the hearts of Lionel Messi & Co.

Argentina vs England

Shearer and Ayala
England captain Alan Shearer and Argentina's Roberto Ayala in action in the 1998 World Cup. File photo: AFP

When Argentina take on England in World Cup soccer, the duel is more ferocious than the ten-week undeclared war fought by the two nations claiming territorial supremacy over Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. These arch rivals have met each other five times in the World Cup and England lead Argentina 3-1 with one match ending in a draw. England outplayed Argentina 3-1 in a group match in 1962. England beat Argentina 1-0 in the quarterfinals during their triumphant campaign at home in 1966.

The next meeting was in the quarterfinals of Mexico 86. Maradona's twin strikes – the controversial 'Hand-of-God' goal and an absolute gem voted as the 'Goal of the Century' by FIFA – settled the tie 2-1 in favour of Argentina. They clashed again in a pre-quarterfinal at France 98. It finished 2-2 after extra time and Argentina scraped through 4-3 on penalties.

David Beckham did not help England's cause as he was sent off after retaliating to a foul by Diego Simeoen early in the second half. Beckham was England's hero four years later in Hokkaido, Japan, as he converted from the spot to seal a 1-0 win in a first-round group match.

Brazil vs France

Socrates and Giresse
Brazil captain Socrates and France's Alain Giresse fight for possession in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal. File photo: AFP

The Selcao and Les Bleus have been involved in some gripping contests over the years. France has a better winning rate against Brazil 2-1 with one game ending in a draw. Brazil, with a young Pele in their ranks, demolished France 5-2 in the semifinals en route to their maiden Cup in 1958. Tele Santana's Brazil consisting of Socrates, Zico and Careca were stopped by French goalkeeper Joel Bats in the quarterfinals at Mexico 86. France won 4-3 on penalties after it finished 1-1 at the end of extra time. Zico missed a penalty in regular time, while Socrates was thwarted by Bats in the shootout.

The next meeting at home in 1998 turned out to be a special one for France, while it was an absolute horror for the Selecao. France demolished Brazil 3-0 in the final to clinch their maiden World Cup. A couple of headers by Zinedine Zidane in the first half settled the final, while Emmanuel Petit added the third in the 90th minute.

Zidane was the star again as France knocked out Brazil 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the 2010 edition. The French captain provided the cross off a free-kick as Thierry Henry netted the winner.

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