World Cup Conclusion

We have discussed the winning tactics of the last three FIFA World Cup champions in our last three instalments. Debojyoti Chakraborty of Goalden Times comes up with the fascinating final piece in this series.

There have been clear cut differences among the past three World Cup winners— nobody overcame greater odds than the Italians, nobody hogged the ball like the Spaniards, and nobody fought like the Germans. Let us dig deep to find out some more unique features about these champions.



Goal draught

None of the finals have been decided in 90 minutes of regular time, underlining the extra cautious approach of the modern era, especially at the biggest stage of them all.

  • In fact, in the past three tournament finals, only Italy could score during the 90 minutes of regular time as far as eventual winners are concerned. But then again, the team also needed the tie-breaker at the end to get to the crown.

Play for the team

Italy scored 12 goals en route to their glory, but only one (Luca Toni) of their players managed to find the back of the net more than once. Spain and Germany, on the other hand, had their top scorers with five goals each (David Villa and Thomas Muller, respectively).

  • Even then, winning the World Cup was more of a team effort for all these teams. None of the players from the champion team could top the goal scoring charts (Golden Boot award). And no one from the champion side was declared the best player of the tournament (Golden Ball award) across the three editions.

Shut the door close

Things are quite similar towards the other end of the field as well. All of the three teams have been very solid at the back—letting in only two or three goals throughout the campaign.

  • And it was no coincidence that the Golden glove—the award for the best shot-stopper in the tournament—always went to the champion team.


Play it tough

The Italians were definitely not the favourites to win the World Cup. They were ranked 13th at the start of the tournament—as compared to Germany and Spain, who were both ranked second at the start of their trophy winning campaigns—and forced their way through to the title. This showed in their disciplinary records as well. Italy picked up 12 cautions and two sending-off across their seven matches. Spain had eight bookings and Germany had only six. None of their players were shown a red card. Having superior set of players ensured that they read the game well, were all well-positioned, and, thus, committed offences that were not as harshly judged.

The world of have-nots

A world-class goalkeeper, a strong centre back, a very influential captain, a couple of midfielders to boss the game, a great tactician to bring out the best from the team — everything was common in all the three teams. All these players were possibly the best in their respective positions at the time of that particular World Cup. However, the similarities do not end here. These teams were startlingly similar in their “have not” categories too. Terrorising wing backs, touchline hugging wingers, and a potent outright striker.

The gaffer

One thing that is vividly different among these three champion teams is their respective managers.

  • Marcello Lippi was an average player with Sampdoria. He then tried his luck in managing clubs across lower leagues in Italy, followed by Serie A. After experiencing moderate success in mid-tier clubs he began his glory days were with Juventus—winning virtually everything. It was his stint with Juventus that culminated with him taking on the duty of coaching the national team.
  • Vicente del Bosque, despite being a slightly better player, had won all the domestic glories with Real Madrid—and the benefits of playing in a strong Real Madrid team were evident. He continued at Madrid after his retirement andhoned his managerial skills. He climbed through the ranks to become one of the most successful managers of modern era leaving nothing not to have won. After an unexpected adieu from Bernabéu, the post of the national coach was well-deserved for this legend of the game.
  • Joachim Löw, perhaps the most prolific of them all as a football player, had a decent outing with SC Freiburg and some other mid-table Bundesliga clubs. He started his managerial career at quite a young age— while he was yet to retire—and tested immediate success with VfB Stuttgart. However, even then,he was drafted in the national side as an assistant coach by his friend and predecessor Jürgen_Klinsmann without many credentials to back him. It was the potential that he showed that worked for him and he has only matured with time. With time on his side, he is likely to go on to become the top of the trio.

Number games

Both Italy and Germany got their fourth World Cup trophy in 2006 and 2014 respectively. Both the teams had their last world conquering campaigns exactly 24 years before the latest one (in 1982 and 1990 respectively). Spain, though, tasted success for the very first time in 2010.

  • Continuing the trend, it should be a new champion—that too a European one—or Brazil, (having won it in 1994, 24 years ago) getting the glory in 2018.

History beckons

Past winners have been notoriously disappointing in their next World Cup campaigns. Both Azzurri and La Roja could not make it beyond the group stages in their title-defending campaigns. It would be shocking if Die Mannschaft follows the trait, but you can never count anything out in this game.

We hope you have enjoyed this series. We have walked the road with three great modern teams. There were some similarities, there were some differences. However, each of these teams—rather each individual associated with these teams— had what it takes to be a true champion: the zeal to succeed.

Debojyoti Chakraborty

About Debojyoti Chakraborty

Debojyoti Chakraborty is a follower of English Premier League and European football. You can reach him at