Skip to main content

Power Rankings: Best Teams to Not Win the World Cup

Although they were not champions, these teams made history and deserved to win.

In the history books, we always see the winners, as the images of those who lifted the hallowed World Cup are always in our minds. But what about those great teams that came up short?

We take a look at the top 10 sides that did not win the World Cup, although thanks to their stars and good play, they left an important mark on history.

Brazil (1950)

The victims of the "Maracanazo", the Brazilian team of 1950 had everything they needed to beat Uruguay, but they came up short.

The team, led by the spectacular striker Ademir, scored 22 goals in six matches played. Brazil also had other stars of the time, such as Jaír, Baltazar and Friaça.

Austria (1934)

Austria had one of the best attacking duos of all time: Matthias Sindelar and Josef Bican.

The "Wunderteam" arrived at the World Cup with 16 undefeated matches and reached the semifinals. Unfortunately, the World Cup had been fixed by the dictator Benito Mussolini, controlling the referee, who had disadvantaged Austria against Italy.

Italy (1990)

The Italian team had one of the best defenses of all time with Franco Baresi and Giuseppe Bergomi. They did not concede a goal in the first five games, until they faced Diego Maradona's Argentina, who eliminated them on penalties.

Walter Zenga, the historic Italian goalkeeper, set a record of 517 minutes without conceding a goal.

Portugal (1966)

There is no doubt that Eusébio, also known as "The Black Panther", is one of the best strikers in the history of the game. The Portuguese attack maestro scored nine goals during the tournament.

Portugal lost in the semifinals to hosts England, who were later crowned world champions after defeating Germany. In the third place play-off, they defeated the Soviet Union to win the bronze medal.

France (1982)

The 1982 World Cup saw Michel Platini at his best, surrounded by a great team that included Alain Giresse, Marius Trésor, and Dominique Rocheteau.

France lost to West Germany in a controversial match, where German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher knocked Patrick Battiston unconscious after a heavy collision. "Les Bleus" lost in the penalty shootout.

Brazil (1982)

This generation is remembered as the best Brazilian side that did not win the World Cup, with great soccer legends such as Zico, Sócrates, and Falcão.

The Brazilian team scored 15 goals in five matches until they were eliminated in the second group stage, losing 3-2 to Italy in the decisive match.

Argentina (1990)

Everything pointed to Diego Maradona's golden generation becoming world champions after doing so in 1986, but this time, the Germans took revenge.

Argentina had a great knockout stage, beating Brazil, Yugoslavia, and hosts Italy, with Salvatore Schillaci at his best. Maradona's team lost in the final against Germany, thanks to a penalty goal by Andreas Brehme.

France (2006)

This was Zinedine Zidane's "Last Dance", and we saw the ultimate expression of his magic on the pitch.

The French #10, joined by legends such as Thierry Henry and Lillian Thuram, beat Spain, Brazil, and Portugal in the knockout stage.

In the final, everything started well, after scoring a historic "Panenka" against Buffon. Unfortunately for the French, Zidane was sent off for a headbutt in extra time and they lost the penalty shootout.

Hungary (1954)

In the 1950s, Hungary was the top soccer power, with two monsters in the shape of Sándor Kocsis and Ferenc Puskás. The Hungarians scored an extraordinary 27 goals in five matches.

Puskás's team lost in the final to hosts Germany, after leading 2-0 in the first 10 minutes. This match is remembered as the "Miracle of Bern", because nobody thought Germany could beat a powerhouse like Hungary.

Netherlands (1974)

According to many, this was the team that gave birth to modern football, with Johan Cruyff as the main protagonist and Rinus Michels as the tactical genius who created "Total Football".

The team known as "The Orange Clockwork" reached the final by playing a spectacular game, with great dynamism and intensity in every action. But Cruyff and company fell short to Franz Beckenbauer's West Germany in the final.