Italy 2-1 Czechoslovakia

Extra time was required to crown Europe's first world champions, with Angelo Schiavio striking to secure the Trophy for Italy on home soil. Gli Azzurri had to come from behind to make history, with Antonin Puc's 71st-minute opener for Czechoslovakia having been cancelled out eight minutes from time by Raimundo Orsi.

Did you know?

The 1934 decider is the only World Cup Final to have involved two goalkeepers as captains. Giampiero Combi and Frantisek Planicka skippered Italy and Czechoslovakia respectively.


Italy 4-2 Hungary

Gino Colaussi and Silvio Piola scored a brace apiece as the Italians retained the Trophy in Paris, establishing Vittorio Pozzo as the only coach to win two World Cup titles. Hi s first World Cup title came at home soil in 1934 as a coach. Italian went on to win two more World Cup titles and incidently they were too all-European finals.

Did you know?

Italy's class of 1938 are the only team to have won the World Cup without keeping a single clean sheet en route. Gli Azzuri beat Norway 2-1, France 3-1, Brazil 2-1 and Hungary 4-2.


West Germany 3-2 Hungary

'The Miracle of Bern' is enshrined in German football folklore. Hungary's seemingly unstoppable Magical Magyars had thrashed the West Germans 8-3 earlier in the tournament, and raced into a 2-0 lead inside eight minutes of the Final. But goals from Max Morlock and Helmut Rahn sealed a remarkable comeback.

Did you know?

This Final defeat ended Hungary's world record 30-match unbeaten run, which had stretched back four years. That benchmark stood until 1993, when it was surpassed by Argentina.


England 4-2 West Germany

Another memorable Final brought England's first and, to date, only world title, with a Geoff Hurst hat-trick - a Final feat still unique to the Three Lions legend - sealing victory in extra time.

Did you know?

England's Bobby and Jack Charlton are one of just two sets of siblings to win the World Cup that is also the only title for their country. The other siblings who enjoyed the same feat of being the world champions are being West Germany’s Fritz and Ottmar Walter in 1954.


Netherlands 1-2 W Germany

As in 1954, the Germans needed all their reserves of steel and spirit to come from an early goal down against the heavy pre-Final favourites. A Paul Breitner penalty and a typically opportunist strike from the irrepressible Gerd Muller broke the hearts of Cruyff & Co.

Did you know?

Muller's winner was one of 14 World Cup goals he scored - not one of which came from outside the penalty area. This haul included seven inside the six-yard box, which remains a tournament record.


Italy 3-1 West Germany

Having failed to win a single match during the group phase, Italy hit their stride in the knockout rounds and clinched a thrilling victory in Madrid. Paolo Rossi opened the scoring before Marco Tardelli, with a wildly celebrated second, and Alessandro Altobelli made sure of Gli Azzurri's third title.

Did you know?

Italy's team in this match contained 40-year-old Dino Zoff and 18-year-old Giuseppe Bergomi, respectively the oldest and second-youngest players to appear in a World Cup Final.


Italy 1-1 France (5-3 PSO)

Zinedine Zidane's Panenka opener and Marco Materazzi's headed equaliser preceded a dramatic conclusion, with Zizou famously sent off before Italy won their fourth title on penalties. It was also the third all European final for Italians in which they emerged victorious.

Did you know?

By scoring in the Final, Materazzi ended the tournament as Italy's joint-top scorer with Luca Toni on two goals apiece. No other team has won the World Cup without at least one of their players scoring three times or more.


Netherlands 0-1 Spain

A tense and bruising finale, which included a record 14 yellow cards, was illuminated in extra time when Andres Iniesta fired home to secure Spain's first-ever world title. It was the only title to date for high flying Spain who always have a rich talent on their back in every event but could mateliased it only for once.

Did you know?

La Roja became the first and only team in World Cup history to lose their opening match and go on to lift the Trophy. It was also the first-ever World Cup hosted by African continent.

More fouls

In order to score from a dead-ball situation, teams first have to be awarded one. The parameters for this World Cup and the intensive training the referees received prior to the tournament led to an increasing number of fouls being spotted and awarded. This has been particularly evident inside the penalty area, with a record 28 spot-kicks being awarded so far, of which 21 have been converted. This increased vigilance inside the 18-yard box has perhaps meant that defenders are not as robust in their marking, which in turn, gives attackers more room to score at corners or free-kicks. "We've identified set-pieces as a key area at tournaments," said England coach Gareth Southgate.

Relinquishing possession

At Russia 2018, several teams have deliberately gone without much possession, in order to focus on defensive solidity, often closing ranks around their own penalty area. In the few weeks that national teams have to prepare for a major tournament, it is much easier to train and adopt defensive positions than it is for players to take attacking movements on board. As a result, a lot more balls land in the penalty area and lead to penalties, free-kicks around the box or get cleared for corners. Counter-attacks are also often stopped with a foul close to the penalty box, or go out for a corner.

Furthermore, this reduces the probability of goals from open play. "The 'smaller nations' primarily practise defending because it's easier to train for that than it is to attack," said former Germany international Thomas Hitzlsperger. "That makes it harder for the bigger teams to score. They're faced with problems they need to solve and that leads to the increasing importance of set-pieces."

Quicker to take on board

Practising set-pieces is quicker and more effective than working on impactful attacking moves. Given the aforementioned lack of time national teams have to train together, this once again underlines why dead-balls have had such significance at Russia 2018.

Increasing numbers of teams now employ set-piece coaches, who can develop numerous ideas and variations well in advance, in order to drill them into the team during their World Cup preparations.

"We spent a lot of time on set-pieces, going into the tiniest details, looking at the runs and who blocks whom," said England midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Difficult to defend against

An additional factor is that set-pieces are extremely difficult to defend against. For instance, regardless of whether a team uses man-to-man or zonal marking - or a mixture of both - at a corner, it only takes one player to react too late or deflect the ball the wrong way for the opposition to have a goalscoring chance. It is much harder to train to defend effectively against set-pieces than it is to execute them well.