It’s fair to say that World Cup fever has gripped the world, at least as far as football is concerned. Qatar 2022 is a strange and controversial event in many ways, but as with any World Cup, it’s a chance to see the best players in the world strut their stuff on the biggest international stage.
We’ve been fortunate to see some really entertaining World Cups grace our television screens over the last couple of decades, held in some interesting locations around the globe. As the 2022 World Cup continues, and fans begin betting on football, we’ve had a go at ranking the five World Cups since 2002. Have a look and see if you agree!
5. 2010 – South Africa
While there was so much to enjoy about the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, it’s fair to say that, on the pitch, the tournament didn’t always live up to the billing.
The incessant sound of vuvuzela horns in the crowd provided a droning hum to the background of each game, while the controversial Jabulani ball made for some strange goals and goalkeeping blunders.
The fact that the tournament was held in the South African winter meant some of the pitches were a bit worse for wear too.
There were still some memorable moments as Spain lifted their maiden World Cup, but overall South Africa 2010 will have to settle for fifth.
4. 2002 – Japan and South Korea
In 2002, the World Cup headed to Asia for the first time, and there were some fabulous talking points throughout the tournament.
The form of joint hosts South Korea was perhaps the story of the tournament, as they knocked out Italy and Spain en route to the semi-finals, where Germany eventually ended their challenge.
The 2002 World Cup is the most recent occasion in which Brazil has triumphed, with Ronaldo firing the Selecao to victory over the Germans in the final. A solid tournament overall, but the underperformance of many of the top teams means we’ve put it in fourth place.
3. 2018 – Russia
Last time out, the 2018 World Cup certainly gave us plenty to sink our teeth into. Some thrilling matches, along with some inspiring underdog stories, meant it was a tournament to remember.
Few expected Croatia to reach the final, but Zlatko Dalic’s men were outstanding en route to the showpiece in Moscow. France stood in their way, and ultimately it was Kylian Mbappe and co. who laid claim to the trophy.
The only downside to Russia 2018 was that it was the first tournament to feature Video Assistant Referees, and this meant there were some lengthy delays and controversial decisions throughout the World Cup.
2. 2006 – Germany
The 2006 World Cup in Germany was a classic for all the right reasons. A true festival of football, the tournament kicked off with a thrilling 4-2 win for the hosts over Costa Rica, and went from strength to strength.
The final between Italy and France produced one of the most iconic moments in World Cup history, as French captain Zinedine Zidane was sent off for a brutal headbutt to the chest of Italy’s Marco Materazzi. The Italians won on penalties, leaving Zidane to slink off into retirement in disgrace.
The tournament featured goals, drama, and a host nation where beer and good humor flowed freely in equal measure. A classic World Cup.
1. 2014 – Brazil
In the top spot in our rankings, we have Brazil 2014. It felt like football was returning to its roots as the World Cup headed to Brazil for its showpiece international occasion, and with so many beautiful settings and impressive stadiums, the tournament was a real feast.
Germany ultimately won the final against Argentina, but it was their semi-final win over hosts Brazil that remains the iconic memory of this World Cup. Without the mercurial presence of Thiago Silva and Neymar, who had been injured in the quarter-final against Colombia, Brazil capitulated in Belo Horizonte, losing 7-1 as the Germans danced around in delight.
The 2014 World Cup provided the perfect balance of thrills and spills, and we feel it is the most entertaining edition since the turn of the millennium. Here’s hoping Qatar 2022 can provide just as much excitement.