The 10 Best Teams Not To Win A FIFA World Cup

By Ian John
July 2, 2022

Ever since the very first FIFA World Cup tournament was held in 1930, there have been a relatively small and select number of teams to have been able to call themselves World Champions.

Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Uruguay, France, England and Spain are the eight teams to have achieved the biggest honour in international football over the years, with the Brazilians holding the record for the greatest number of World Cup Wins with five.

Yet behind those headlines often lies a story of heartache for at least one team. A team that perhaps should have gone on to win the trophy, but for one reason or another, didn’t quite manage to do so.

And while we may remember the great teams, such as the Brazilian teams of 1958, 1970 and 2002, the French team of 1998 and the Argentinian team of 1986, there are some teams just as good, but who are not as revered as they didn’t go on to win the biggest prize.

Yet they may well remain in our minds due to their brilliant play, outstanding individual players, incredible goals and much more.

So, in this latest top ten, we are going to give you our list of the greatest ever World Cup Finals teams that should have won the trophy, but didn’t quite manage to do so.

Remember, World Cup 2022 is very much on the horizon and you can enjoy plenty of betting ahead of the finals, and also when the finals kick off in November in Qatar with Bet365 Sport.

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The Top Ten Teams That Should Have Won The World Cup, But Didn’t

10. Argentina (2014)

At the 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil, Argentina had a squad packed with incredible talent and led by the incredible Lionel Messi when he was at the peak of his powers. Sure enough, the team made it through the group stage winning all three games with Messi scoring four goals and they seemed well set to go for the title.

However, the team stalled after that good start, only beating Switzerland in the Round of 16 by a single goal scored at the end of extra time, and they then defeated Belgium by a single goal in the quarterfinals before beating the Dutch on penalties in the semis after a 0-0 draw.

In the final, once again the Argentinians struggled for goals and in extra time they lost to a 113th minute strike from Mario Gotze against a team that on paper at least, lacked the same quality as they did.

9. Italy (1990)

The 1990 World Cup was held in Italy and the host nation was expected to go well eight years after winning the World Cup in Spain in 1982. They made solid progress through the group stage, not conceding a goal and winning all three games before facing Uruguay in the round of 16 where goals from Toto Schillachi, who became the hero of their campaign and Aldo Serena took them past Uruguay.

Schillachi was again on target in the quarterfinals where they defeated the Republic of Ireland in Rome and he again opened the scoring for Italy in their semifinal with Argentina on 17 minutes, but Argentina levelled on 67 minutes to force extra time and penalties.

Despite dominating the game, Italy could not find a winner and misses by Donadoni and Serena handed Argentina the win after they scored all four of their spot kicks. Italy finished third by beating England in the 3rd place match.

8. England (1970)

It’s strange to think that the 1970 Brazil World Cup winning team may have been fortunate, but there was no doubt that after Brazil, England were the best team in that tournament by a comfortable margin.

They qualified second behind Brazil in the group phase, losing 1-0 to the Brazilians in a game that could have gone either way and it is a game famous for a stunning Gordon Banks save from Pele’s header, and a poor miss by Jeff Astle that should have given England a draw.

In the quarterfinals, they faced West Germany, a team that they had beaten in the 1966 Final and England led 2-0 after 50 minutes thanks to goals from Mullery and Peters. However Germany staged a remarkable recovery as they took advantage of England’s reserve keeper Peter Bonetti to score two goals to force extra time and then clinch the win with a 108th minute Gerd Muller strike.

7. Brazil (1998)

Led by the effervescent Ronaldo and with a team including the likes of Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Leonardo, Rivaldo and Denilson, Brazil were expected to make a strong defence of the trophy they won in 1994 in the USA and despite losing one group game to Norway, they topped their group and defeated Chile, Denmark and the Netherlands on penalties to reach the final.

However, the final is best remembered for the drama surrounding Ronaldo who had a fit on the eve of the game and was omitted initially from the team, only to be reinstated and though he played, he was a shadow of himself as France went on to win 3-0 and claim the trophy.

6. Netherlands (1978)

The first of two fantastic Netherlands teams that didn’t quite land the trophy. The 1978 team was missing some big names from 1974, but they were one of the best teams to watch in the tournament, coming through a tough opening group phase and then beating Italy and Austria and drawing with Germany in the second group phase to top the group and reach the final.

They faced the hosts (again) in the final in Argentina and after falling 1-0 behind, they equalised through Nanninga before Rob Rensenbrink struck the post in the final minute. However, two goals in injury time handed the win to Argentina and more heartbreak for the Dutch team.

5. France (2006)

Led by the incredible Zinedine Zidane and with the goals of Trezeguet and Henry allied to the emergence of Frank Ribery, the 2006 French team were not originally one of the tournament favourites and after a slow start in the group stage they came to life in the knockout phase, with Zidane coming to the fore.

Zidane produced the best individual displays at a World Cup tournament since Maradona in 1986 and Pele in 1970, inspiring the French to wins over Spain, Brazil and Portugal to earn the French an unexpected spot in the final.

They faced Italy in the final and Zidane scored a Panenka-style penalty to put France ahead, but after Italy equalised, Zidane had a famous altercation with Marco Materazzi, ending with him headbutting the Italian defender in the chest and getting sent off. The French would go on to lose the final on penalties.

4. Brazil (1950)

The first World Cup of the modern era and since the second World War should have been won by the hosts. It was also England’s first World Cup Finals appearance and despite a win over Chile, a stunning defeat to USA shook the world of football and meant England needed to beat Spain to qualify for the final round, which unusually was in a group stage format.

Uruguay, Brazil, Sweden and Spain made it into that group and the title was to be decided in the final game. Brazil crushed Sweden 7-1 and Spain 6-1 to take the lead in the group, and their final game would be against Uruguay who had drawn with Spain and then beat Sweden 3-2.

Brazil needed to avoid defeat to be World Champions and took the lead early in the second half only for Uruguay to stun the home team with two late strikes to win the game and with it the World Cup in front of an estimated 173,850 crowd at the Maracana.

3. Netherlands (1974)

The Dutch team of 1974 played Total Football and had the remarkable Johan Cruyff as its focal point and they were clearly the team of the tournament in 1974. Cruyff even patented his famous “Cruyff turn” in their 0-0 draw against Sweden in the group phase.

After winning their opening group, they beat Argentina 4-0 and then East Germany 2-0 to advance into a showdown for a place in the final with Brazil, with the Dutch’s new brand of football sweeping Brazil away with a 2-0 victory.

The Dutch would face hosts West Germany in the final and incredibly scored straight from the kick off without a German player touching the ball, as Cruyff was brought down for a penalty and Neeskens converted, however Germany equalised through a Breitner penalty and then went in front just before half time through Gerd Muller and hung on to claim the win against the markedly better team.

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2. Brazil (1982)

There’s no doubt that the 1982 Brazil team were the best in the world, yet they had an achilles heel in defence and in goal, with arguably the poorest centre backs and goalkeeper to represent the country at a World Cup Finals.

Despite this, Brazil won all three of their group games in dramatic fashion. After Waldir Peres had fumbled a shot from Bal over the line against Russia, two incredible late strikes from Socrates and Eder gave Russia a late win over the Russians.

A 4-1 win over Scotland was followed by a 4-0 win over New Zealand as the Brazilians found their feet and after a 3-1 win over Argentina in the first game of the second group phase, Brazil just needed to avoid defeat against Italy to reach the semifinals.

However, in one of the best ever World Cup games, their defensive frailties were crucial as a Paolo Rossi hat-trick gave Italy a 3-2 win and the Italians would go on to lift the trophy beating Germany in the final.

1.Hungary (1954)

Without doubt, even as good as the 1982 Brazil team was, the 1954 Hungary team, the Magnificent Magyars, are the best team of their era to never win a World Cup and they should have done so comfortably.

In their two group games, the Hungarian team beat South Korea 9-0 in their opener and then beat Germany 8-3 in their second game, scoring 17 goals in just two matches.

They then faced World Cup finalists Brazil in the quarterfinals and ran out 4-2 winners, and repeated that scoreline against the other team ranked as one of the best in the tournament, current holders Uruguay.

In the final they would face West Germany again, a team they beat 8-3 in the group stage and after 8 minutes, Hungary led 2-0. However, 10 minutes later it was 2-2 and as Germany fought off attack after attack, a late goal from Rahn handed Germany the most unlikely of win and denied Hungary the World Cup that this team deserved.

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