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Five of the best FIFA World Cup knockout matches

With temperatures soaring across Europe at the moment, with hindsight, it’s no surprise that the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar was moved to the winter.

If the tournament had gone ahead as scheduled, we would have already crowned our newest champion of the world. In the process though, we’d have subjugated the world’s greatest football players as well as an expected two million supporters to temperatures well in excess of 40 degrees. Instead, we will now be treated to our first ever winter world cup, with the Netherlands and Senegal raising the curtain on 21st November.

As much as we love being treated to three group stage games every day, everyone knows that the knockout stages of the tournament are what truly matters. Here are five of the best knockout stage matches in recent memory.

England 1-2 Brazil – 2002

Back in Japan and South Korea, many pundits thought that the winner of this quarter-final between England and Brazil would go on to win the tournament. The same can be said of Qatar 2022, with the Selecao the favourites to lift the trophy for the sixth time.

When Michael Owen put the Three Lions ahead after 23 minutes it seemed like England were on course for victory, and that football may finally come home. But Luis Felipe Scolari’s Brazil were a different beast, and two goals in five minutes either side of half time from Rivaldo and Ronaldinho were enough to secure a spot in the final four.

Brazil 1-7 Germany – 2014

12 years on from that success, Brazil was once again in the semifinals and looking to secure a spot in the final against arch-rivals Argentina. Those dreams were crushed within 30 minutes, as they found themselves 5-0 down to the rampant Germans.

Die Mannschaft scored four goals in six of the craziest minutes in World Cup history, leaving the world gobsmacked and those in attendance in disbelief. Andre Schurrle added a brace in the second half, and Oscar’s consolation goal in injury time barely received as much as a golf clap.

Belgium 3-2 Japan – 2018

The struggles of Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ have been well documented. They were defeated by Argentina at the 2014 World Cup and stunned by Wales at Euro 2016. It’s not too surprising to see Belgium miss out on top five rankings for World Cup favourites. Four years ago, in Russia, it looked as though they wouldn’t even make it to the qaurter finals.

After defeating England to top Group G, Belgium was handed a favourable tie against Japan in the last sixteen. Or so they thought.

When it came to match day, the Red Devils found themselves 2-0 down with barely 20 minutes remaining. But they came roaring back, with goals from Marouane Fellaini and Jan Vertonghen drawing things level, before Nacer Chadli won it with the last kick of the game. An epic match.

Germany 0-2 Italy (AET) – 2006

Germany were on home soil back in 2006, and were expected to progress to the final after seeing off Argentina and Sweden en route to the final four. Marcello Lippi’s Italy, in contrast, had stumbled their way to this stage.

Italy, however, more than held their own against Die Mannschaft in Dortmund. After a nail-biting 90 minutes finished goalless, the Azzurri stunned the hosts with two wonderful goals, one a piece from Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero, setting up a date with France in Berlin.

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Uruguay p1-1 Ghana (AET) – 2010

Is any list of World Cup clashes complete without mentioning the hand of Luis Suarez? In the first tournament ever hosted in Africa, Ghana was banking on becoming the first African team to reach the final four of the World Cup.

They looked set to do that in the last minute of extra time when Dominic Adiyiah nodded towards an empty net, only for Suarez to club the ball away and receive his marching orders. Asamoah Gyan skied the resulting penalty and the South Americans went on to win the resulting shootout. It’s a cruel game.

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