The Twenty Greatest Losses Of All Time (no. 5-1)

England face Croatia this evening , a must win game for Steve Mclaren’s misfits. I don’t know why we bother, because you know the ending, we get to Euro 2008, end up facing the Germans and they win on penalties… So just to get you in the mood here  are…
The top five defeats in the history of football. And what better place for all of these to occur on the biggest stage there is: the World Cup. Controversy, huge upsets and national pride being battered… England please take note!
5. Chile 2-0 Italy 1962 World Cup Group 2
Good evening. The game you are about to see is the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game’. These were the words used to introduce the Battle of Santiago by BBC presenter David Coleman. Tensions ran high due to two Italian journalists (Antonio Ghiredelli and Corrado Pizzinelli – and both had to leave the country before the game) describing earthquake-stricken Chile in a deriding manner. The first foul came eight seconds after kick-off. The first sending off came eight minutes later. Next came a kick in the neck, soon followed by a broken nose. More scuffles, spitting occurred and the police had to repeatedly intervene during the came, such as escorting Giorgio Ferrini off the pitch after eight minutes. Late goals by Ramirez and Toro sealed Chile’s revenge against the Italians.
4. Argentina 2-1 England 1986 World Cup Quarter Final
Mention this defeat to any Englishman and it is a guarantee that Diego Maradona will be the first words out of his mouth. Forget the controversy from the ‘Hand of God’ goal or the individual excellence of the dribble (both were recently imitated by Leo Messi, one of the endless line of heirs to the legend himself). The background behind the defeat surrounding the dispute over the Falklands islands in 1982 between the two countries in question. The most recent invasion of British territory caused a strong rivalry that affected the viewpoints of the public in both countries. Thus Maradona claimed ‘Whoever robs a thief gets a 100-year pardon’, a popular Spanish saying, which is seen as a justification by Maradona as a retaliation against the British for the war four years previous.
3. Hungary 2- 3 West Germany 1954 World Cup Final
Das Wunder von Bern’. The Miracle of Bern saw the Germans pitted against the ‘Mighty Magyars’. Unbeaten in their previous 32 games, lead by a strike-force of Puskas and Hidegkuti, they had previously defeated England at Wembley 6-3, becoming the first non-UK team to do so at the famous stadium. They won 7-1 in the return game in Budapest. Legendary coach Josef Herberger was famous for conjuring up phrases such as ‘The ball is round and the game lasts for 90 minutes’, played his reserves that lost 8-3 in the first round. The Hungarians raced into a two goal lead in the first 8 minutes, through the unfit Puskas and Czibor. The Germans, playing with Adidas’s revolutionary removable studs, had an advantage in the ‘Fritz Walter’ (rainy) weather, named after their star player, whose best performances came ironically against the literary idea of pathetic fallacy. A film was released almost 50 years later in 2003, to commemorate the victory and it signifying the change in German society purging it from the sin of the Nazi regime. Helmut Rahn, featured in the film named: ‘Das Wunder von Bern’, scored twice in the final, and the winner caused Herbert Zimmermann to scream ‘Tor! Tor! Tor! Tor!’ followed by an eight second gap, before the celebrations continued.
2. Brazil 1-2 Uruguay 1950 World Cup Final
Another day… it was earlier in history but equally important in shaping another country’s mentality through football. Having taken victory for granted, after seeing the team, led by Ademir, an outstanding forward, defeat rivals, who adopted the WM formation, they were surprised when Uruguay appeared in the final with an attacking mentality and a formation that was equal to Brazil’s attacking play. The Europeans, were awestruck by Brazil, and before letting in the first goal so were Uruguay, but words from their captain inspired the team to victory. The goal by Ghiggia in the 79th minute, after shooting at the near post, rather than crossing as he did for his team’s first goal, caught out Barbosa, who dived too late. ‘The Fateful Goal’ silenced the 199,954 Brazilians in the Maracanã. It ruined celebrations, prepared, such as the golden medals with the players’ names on it, the speech in Portuguese Jules Rimet had prepared and amongst other things, it prompted a thorough post mortem into the defeat.
1. Germany 2-1 Holland 1974 World Cup Final
Possibly the greatest team to never win the World Cup, the Dutch raced into an early lead with a Neeskens penalty, but rather than adding to their lead, played a taunting style of possession football, perhaps in retaliation to Nazi oppressors in the second world war to which their opponents on the day had no relation to. This angered the Germans, who came back as the first half progressed, perhaps because Cruyff, in an attempt to find space and be released from Berti Vogts shackles, played too deep and lost his influence upon proceedings. The game was also a tale of two penalties, both given by the English referee Taylor, the first, a correct one, the second was given after simulation by Holzenbein, perhaps influenced by Beckenbauer’s words to Taylor (perhaps in another reference to the war): ‘You are an Englishman’. The Dutch played their usual unique style in the second half but could break down a rearguard action lead by ‘Der Kaiser’ Beckenbauer, leaving July 7th 1974 as the day when every Dutchman remembers where there were, mourning the ‘Lost Final’.

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