France will face Argentina in the World Cup final this weekend, with Didier Deschamps’ side just one game from defending football’s biggest trophy.
Les Bleus were crowned world champions in Russia four years ago and can become the first team in six decades to retain the World Cup in Qatar.
Ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup final, we remember every nation to reach successive World Cup finals.
Italy (1934, 1938)
Italy became the first European winners of the World Cup in 1934, as the Azzurri triumphed on home soil to be crowned world champions.
It was the first World Cup that required qualification to compete and just the second tournament overall, with Italy coming from behind to beat Czechoslovakia in the final through goals from Raimondo Orsi and Angelo Schiavio.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 10, 2017
Despite the cloud of Benito Mussolini using the tournament to promote his propaganda, it was regarded a success for Italy, who replaced Uruguay as world champions. The holders had declined to compete, after Italy’s refusal to travel to South American for the inaugural World Cup in 1930.
Four years later Italy reached another final, as the World Cup was staged in France. The Azzurri became the first team to defend the World Cup after beating Hungary 4-2 in Paris. It would be the last World Cup held for 12 years, following the outbreak of World War II.
Brazil (1958, 1962)
Brazil won the first of their record five World Cup titles in 1958, as the Samba stars stunned the world in Sweden. Beaten in the final on home soil eight years earlier, Brazil earned redemption with an impressive tournament.
Pele was the star of the show for Brazil, as the 17-year-old announced his arrival on the world stage. He scored the winner in the quarter-final win over Wales, before netting a hat-trick as France were thrashed in the last four.
Only two teams in @FIFAWorldCup history have ever successfully defended their title 🏆🏆
🇧🇷 Brazil: 1958 & 1962
🇮🇹 Italy: 1934 & 1938
— Budweiser Football (@budfootball) December 11, 2022
He scored twice more as Brazil beat the host nation 5-2 in the final, having set records as the World Cup’s youngest goalscorer, hat-trick scorer, final scorer and winner.
Brazil defended their title four years later, despite Pele featuring just twice as injury curtailed his tournament. Garrincha and Vavá were at the centre of the success, scoring four goals each to finish as the joint-leading scorers – alongside four other players – at the World Cup.
Netherlands (1974, 1978)
The Netherlands are the only nation to have reached successive World Cup finals and to have never been crowned world champions.
Rinus Michels’ side are regarded as one of the great international teams, but fell short of claiming the biggest prize as Total Football was introduced to the world. Johan Cruyff was the star of the 1974 team, with the Dutch surrendering an early lead to lose to host nation West Germany in Munich.
Four years later the Netherlands reached another final, despite Cruyff – winner of the Ballon d’Or in 1971, 1973, 1974 – deciding against competing due to an attempted kidnap involving his family in Barcelona.
Again, their hopes ended against the host nation, as Argentina prevailed in extra time in Buenos Aires. Dick Nanninga had forced extra time with a late equaliser for the Dutch, but Mario Kempes’ double and a third from Daniel Bertoni crowned Argentina champions on home soil.
West Germany (1982, 1986, 1990)
West Germany became the first nation to reach three consecutive World Cup finals, after making the decider in 1982, 1986 and 1990.
It was third time lucky for the Germans, who suffered defeats to Italy and Argentina during the first of those finals. The third final was a rematch with the Argentines at Italia ’90, the first – and so far only – time that consecutive World Cup finals have featured the same nations.
Andreas Brehme scored a late winner from the penalty spot in what was an ugly final full of firsts in Rome. Argentina were remarkably the first team to fail to score in a World Cup final, while it was the first time that a European team had beaten a South American side in the final – with all five previous occasions resulting in defeats for the European side.
Argentina (1986, 1990)
As mentioned, Argentina faced off against West Germany in both the 1986 and 1990 World Cup finals, with the two nations winning one each.
It was the South Americans who prevailed in the first final, during a tournament in which Diego Maradona reached his zenith. Maradona had been the inspiration behind Argentina’s run, scoring braces in wins over England (QF) and Belgium (SF) to book La Albiceleste a place in the final.
Argentina edged an entertaining contest 3-2 in Mexico City, as Jorge Burruchaga struck a late winner after West Germany had come from two goals down to level.
Argentina were unable to repeat that success four years later, having bounced back from a shock opening defeat to Cameroon to reach the final. The South Americans struggled for goals all tournament, netting just five in seven matches, and managed just one shot on goal in the final.
The runners-up also ended the game with nine men, as Pedro Monzón and Gustavo Dezotti became the first players to be sent off in a World Cup final.
Brazil (1994, 1998, 2002)
Brazil are the only nation to have reached consecutive World Cup finals on more than one occasion, who, having competed in the finals of ’58 and ’62, also featured in three straight finals between 1994 and 2002.
The Selecao were crowned world champions at USA ’94, as a team containing the likes of Romario and Bebeto beat Italy on penalties in the final with Roberto Baggio’s infamous miss seeing Brazil celebrate a fourth world title.
Brazil were unable to defend the title in 1998 despite a status as favourites in France. The South Americans reached consecutive finals on the back of Ronaldo’s brilliance, but the tournament’s Golden Ball winner was a shadow of himself in the final after suffering a seizure just hours before the game.
Happy birthday to the 𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘭 Ronaldo 🐐
Throwback to that World Cup final against Germany in 2002 🏆 pic.twitter.com/ObAaoWNyjo
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) September 22, 2022
Ronaldo’s redemption was the tale of the 2002 tournament. Having missed Brazil’s entire qualification campaign with knee issues that threatened his career, O Fenômeno returned to win the Golden Boot and lead Brazil to a fifth world title. His eight goals – including both in the 2-0 final win over Germany – is the highest total in a single World Cup since 1970.
Cafu, who captained the side to their 2002 success, is the only player in history to have appeared in three World Cup finals, both overall and consecutively.
France (2018, 2022)
France will take to the field for a second consecutive World Cup final this weekend, having become the sixth nation to have achieved the feat.
Les Bleus won the World Cup in Russia four years ago, beating Croatia 4-2 in an entertaining final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Kylian Mbappe scored their fourth goal and in the process became the first teenager since Pele in 1958 to score in a World Cup final.
🇫🇷 France under Deschamps:
2016: EURO 🥈
2018: World Cup 🥇
2021: Nations League 🥇
2022: World Cup finalists… pic.twitter.com/8DyDbMPSUR
— UEFA EURO 2024 (@EURO2024) December 15, 2022
Mbappe has starred during France’s run to the 2022 final, with his five goals the joint-most in the tournament alongside club teammate and final opponent, Lionel Messi.
Which of the Paris Saint-Germain superstars performs this weekend will have a huge influence on which country is crowned champions.
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