Mon 09 Jul 2018, 09:16
Brazil crashed out of the World Cup in the quarter-finals this weekend so Neymar joins Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as current elite players to miss out on winning the biggest tournament of all. Looking back, here are some other notable World Cup failures.
With 56 international goals in 118 international appearances, Samuel Eto’o is one of the greatest Cameroonian and African players of all time. Despite being a key member of Barcelona’s all-conquering side between 2004-9, he was unable to replicate club form at the World Cup, scoring just three goals in three World Cups.
Roberto Baggio, or ‘The Divine Ponytail’, also appeared in three World Cups, and came closest to glory in 1994. Baggio almost single-handedly inspired Italy to the tournament with five goals in qualifying and scored five more at the World Cup itself to help the Azzurri to the final against Brazil. With the final deadlocked after extra-time, Baggio stepped up to take Italy’s final kick in the shootout...and missed.
The Brazil team of 1982 is regarded as among the best to not win the World Cup. Zico was a technically proficient playmaker and was Brazil's best player in 1982. He scored four goals in the tournament but Brazil succumbed to eventual winners Italy in the second round.
No player had a greater impact on modern football than Johan Cruyff, who perfected Total Football as a prolific scorer and goal creator. The Dutch master inspired the Netherlands to beat Argentina, East Germany and Brazil on the way to the final of the 1974 World Cup, but West Germany somehow halted Cruyff's charge in the final.
Helenio Herrera, one of the all-time great managers, once said "if Pele was the lead violinist then Alfredo Di Stefano was the entire orchestra." A brilliant forward who scored almost 900 career goals, Di Stefano played for Colombia, Argentina and Spain but never came close to winning the World Cup--indeed he was never to play in the tournament.
Ferenc Puskas scored an incredible 84 goals in 85 matches for Hungary, and was their talisman at the 1954 World Cup. Hungary swept aside all comers, including an 8-3 win over West Germany in the early stage of the cup. But Puskas picked up an injury and when Hungary took on the same opponents in the final, the Germans gained revenge with a shock 3-2 win.
There’s no Neymar or Messi left but Paul Pogba’s France and Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne go head-to-head in Tuesday’s World Cup semi-final at 20:00, while Harry Kane will star for England against Luka Modric’s Croatia on Wednesday at 20:00.
Stream both World Cup semi-finals on DStv Now on your mobile or your laptop while you're on the go. And if you missed any of the last-eight action this weekend, catch up with an eight-minute highlights package.