Lionel Messi won his first World Cup on Sunday against France (3-3, 4-2 on tab). While this accomplishment puts him a little higher in the league of footballing legends, other players with impressive pedigrees have never managed to be crowned in the competition.
An idyllic epilogue. This is what Lionel Messi experienced on Sunday, at the twilight of his career, winning the World Cup for the first time against France (3-3, 4-2 on tab). Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola assured this Wednesday that Messi was “the greatest player of all time”while guaranteeing that he would not have changed his mind “ even if, on Sunday, Leo had not won the World Cup”. This success has nevertheless played in the eyes of some observers as to the trace that “La Pulga” will leave in the history of his sport. Unlike him, other legends have not been able to ascend to the top of the world, despite notable opportunities.
Johan Cruyff (Netherlands), uncrowned kingJohan Cruyff’s career has been marked in particular by the aesthetics of his dribbling and his series of titles with Ajax (three-time winner of the Champions League Cup, eight-time Dutch champion). But his lack of trophies with the Dutch selection has always been a black spot. During the 1974 World Cup in West Germany, the player walked on water and notably rolled Argentina (4-0) with a double, before winning against Brazil (2-0) in entering a but. The Netherlands therefore arrived in a strong position for the final against Germany and set the tone for the start. From the first minute, Cruyff goes alone in the opposing camp before erasing the goalkeeper Sepp Maier. Uli Hoeness is forced to mow him down in the box. Johan Neeskens transforms the penalty and gives the advantage to the Oranje. As the game progressed, however, the Batavians lost track and ended up losing (1-2), after a penalty from Paul Breitner and a goal from Gerd Müller.
For his only World Cup, “the Flying Dutchman” touched the most prestigious of awards, but did not win it, despite being awarded the title of best player of the tournament. In 1978, the year when the Netherlands chained a second final in a row (lost 1-3 against Argentina), Johan Cruyff was not selected. The different versions, some advanced dissension with the Federation about bonuses, others explain a boycott of the Argentinian World Cup because of the dictatorship. Nothing was ever settled, but Cruyff was never able to bring home a World Cup.
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Eusebio (Portugal), a victory against Brazil and a podium“The Black Panther” allowed Portugal to exist on the world stage. In 1966, the Seleção took part in its first World Cup in England. Eusebio scores against Bulgaria in the second match (3-0) and enters the third match against Brazil in a position of strength. Often compared to Pelé, he crosses his path and wins (3-1) by scoring twice. The Brazilian is nevertheless forced out on a stretcher after a tackle from Portuguese Joao Morais.
After another double in the quarters against North Korea (5-3), the Lusitanian center-forward faces the host country: England, at Wembley. Despite a realization of their star, the Portuguese lost (1-2) and consoled themselves by beating the USSR in the small final (2-1). Eusebio adds a goal to his total and finishes on this occasion top scorer in the competition with 9 goals. The selection will have to wait 20 years before retesting at a World Cup, but it has definitely marked the spirits.
Paolo Maldini (Italy), cursed on penaltiesPaolo Maldini played in four World Cups, and was eliminated three times on penalties. In 1990, he took part in his first World Cup. Despite good performances, he was eliminated in the semi-finals by Argentina (1-1, 4-3 on pens) Four years later, in the United States, an even more cruel outcome awaits the Milanese defender . After a checkered journey symbolized by a third place in the group stage and victories in extremis in the round of 16 (2-1 aet against Nigeria), in the quarters (2-1 against Spain) and in the halves ( 2-1 against Bulgaria), the Transalpins reach the final to challenge the Brazil of Romario and Bebeto.
At the end of a closed opposition, the Seleçao won on penalties (0-0 ap, 3-2 on pens) after a failed attempt by Roberto Baggio. The trauma is palpable, and the person concerned declares about this failure: “It’s been inscribed in me for life. I never got past this episode. I will never exceed it. I learned to live with it. » Paolo Maldini never attempted to shoot on goal in the three sessions he attended, even during the elimination against France in the quarter-finals of the 1998 World Cup (0-0 ap, 3-4 on pens), which reinforces the feeling of bitterness linked to these defeats.
In 2002, he ended his World Cup epic in a very sad way. For his 23rd match in the competition, he was eliminated in the round of 16 by South Korea, the host country (1-2 ap). Five-time winner of the Champions League with AC Milan and crowned seven times in Serie A, Paolo Maldini also had an unhappy career in selection. Even during Euro 2000, Sylvain Wiltord and David Trezeguet dashed the hopes of the Italian captain.
Michel Platini (France), crossed out by GermanyMichel Platini, unlike other players on this list, won a national title: Euro 1984, the first trophy in French football. But the playmaker has been worse off in the World Cup. Twice, the FRG has shortened the course of the France team. A first time – and by far the most painful memory – in 1982, during “the night of Seville”. On penalty (27th), he responds to the opener of Pierre Littbarski (17th). A gross foul by German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher on Patrick Battiston and a French crossbar later, the two teams try to decide in extra time.
Les Bleus lead 3-1 after two goals from Marius Trésor (93rd) and Alain Giresse (100th). But Rummenigge, after a counter (104th), then Fischer, with an acrobatic income (108th), snatch a penalty shootout, the first in the history of the World Cup. At 3-2 in favor of the Blues, Stielike failed against Ettori but Six in turn missed his shot on goal. At 4-4, Bossis hits on the right of Schumacher who pushes the ball away. Hrubesch converts his attempt and then eliminates France. Four years later, the French returned to the semi-finals after a heroic victory against Brazil (1-1 ap, 4-3 on pens), but once again came up against their German rivals (2-0). A taste of unfinished business for a golden generation that has approached the world summit without ever achieving it.
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Ferenc Puskas (Hungary), unfortunate finalistThe year 1954 was to be that of Hungary and their star striker Ferenc Puskas. The “Wonder Team” arrives at the World Cup in Switzerland having been unsuccessful for four years. The Hungarians struggle to approach South Korea (9-0) with a double from Puskas and continue their frenzy in attack by crushing the FRG 8-3. Injured in an ankle, the attacker misses the quarter and the semi-final of his team, which is essential all the same in his absence.
Reduced, he still takes part in the grand final which gives rise to a revenge against West Germany. This time, the physiognomy of the match is quite different. If Puskas opens the score and Hungary makes the break, the Germans completely reverse the course of the game and finally win (3-2). However, the best player in the competition believes equalize at the end of the match, but he is signaled offside. The damage is done, for the first time in four years and at the worst time, Hungary is defeated and sees its World Cup dream come to an end.
Cristiano Ronaldo, silent in the final phaseCristiano Ronaldo experienced the euphoria of a continental coronation at Euro 2016, but things have always turned out to be more complicated in the World Cup. In 2006, the Portuguese were eliminated by nothing by France in the semi-finals on a penalty from Zinédine Zidane (1-0). During the South African World Cup, four years later, the Seleçao fell on a Spanish team on a cloud and managed to beat them in the round of 16 thanks to David Villa (1-0). In 2014, the year when CR7 gleaned his first Champions League with Real, he only scored one goal in the competition, and Portugal was eliminated in the first round, culminating in a heavy setback against Germany. (4-0).
His moment may have finally come in 2018. His hat-trick against Spain (3-3), in the Portuguese’s first game in the competition, sends a strong signal. But once again, the striker failed to unblock the situation in the round of 16 against Uruguay, which dominated the debates (2-1). The World Cup in Qatar is surely Cristiano Ronaldo’s last. Apart from a penalty goal against Ghana (3-2) in the group stage, the captain faces an irremediable downgrade as the competition progresses. Replacing against Switzerland (6-1) in the round of 16 and during the defeat in the quarters against Morocco (0-1), he could not leave the mark he wanted in the World Cup.