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World Cup: A history of champions

Since Uruguay hosted the first World Cup in 1930, just eight nations have laid their hands on the coveted trophy.

This article was originally published on 18 November 2022

There have been 21 editions of the showpiece international competition but the honours have always ended up either with a European or South American nation.

We've taken a look at each of the eight previous winners, with several of them hoping to add another title to their tally in Qatar.

Brazil - 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002

South American giants Brazil boast the record for most World Cup titles, winning the competition five times, but they had a few near misses before claiming their first.

They finished third in 1938 and came up just short as hosts in the final of the 1950 tournament.

Brazil, inspired by Pele, finally delivered in 1958 when they beat hosts Sweden 5-2 in the final in Solna.

A second title followed four years later in Chile courtesy of a 3-1 victory over Czechoslovakia in the final.

The Selecao were unable to successfully defend in 1966 but they bounced back to go all the way in 1970.

It wasn't until 1994, when the USA hosted, that Brazil sealed their fourth crown and, after losing to France in the 1998 final, they responded to scoop top honours in 2002.

Brazil have a very talented squad heading to Qatar and can be backed at 7/2 to win the competition.

Germany - 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014

Germany, 11/1 to win the World Cup, proudly sport four stars above the national team crest on their shirt and they'll be looking to match Brazil's all-time record by enjoying a successful campaign in Qatar.

Manager Sepp Herberger led them to glory in 1954 as they came from 2-0 down to beat Hungary 3-2 at the Wankdorf Stadium in Bern, Switzerland.

Handed the chance to host the tournament in 1974, Germany made full use of playing in familiar surroundings when beating the Netherlands 2-1 in the final.

Two near misses came in 1982 and 1986 when Die Mannschaft lost in successive finals but they managed to prevail in 1990 to pick up their third title.

Germany's fourth and most recent World Cup win arrived in 2014 courtesy of an extra time strike from Mario Gotze to see off Argentina 1-0 in a tense final in Brazil.

Italy - 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006

Italy became the first European nation to win the World Cup after beating Czechoslovakia 2-1 in extra time when hosting in 1934.

Further history was made four years later as Italy became the first nation to successfully defend their crown, having overcome Hungary 4-2 in Paris.

They had to wait until 1982 to further enhance their tally but goals from Paolo Rossi, Marco Tardelli and Alessandro Altobelli secured a 3-1 victory over Germany in the final.

The Azzurri's last title came in 2006 following a tense penalty shootout win against France after the two sides couldn't be separated at 1-1 following extra time.

Marcello Lippi's men held their nerve to convert all five of their spot-kicks and David Trezeguet's miss for Les Bleu saw Italy triumph 5-3.

Argentina - 1978 and 1986

Despite boasting one of the best players of all time, Lionel Messi, in their ranks since 2005, Argentina have failed to taste glory at the World Cup since 1986 when they won the competition for the second time.

Argentina, who are 11/2 to go all the way in Qatar, lost to Uruguay in the first ever World Cup final and they didn't reach that stage again until 1978 when they hosted.

With the score level at 1-1 after full time in Buenos Aires, Argentina showed spirit to score twice in extra time and deliver for the home faithful.

A Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina ran out winners once again in 1986 with West Germany losing 3-2 in the final in Mexico City.

France - 1998 and 2018

France only made it to the quarter-finals of the World Cup when they hosted in 1938 but they went all the way on home soil in 1998.

Brazil were heavily fancied to win the competition after their triumph in 1994. However, Les Bleus ran out 3-0 winners over the South American side in the final in Paris.

They head to Qatar as the defending champions following success in Russia in 2018 when they cruised through the tournament and are 7/1 to win the tournament again.

Didier Deschamps' men defeated Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium to set up a final showdown with Croatia in Moscow.

Few gave underdogs Croatia much hope and that proved to be correct as France ran out 4-2 winners.

Uruguay - 1930 and 1950

Just 13 teams took part in the maiden World Cup when Uruguay hosted in 1930 and the hosts made home advantage count.

Uruguay entered at the Group 2 stage and went on to top their section, beating Romania and Peru without conceding a goal to book their spot in the semi-finals.

An emphatic 6-1 victory over Yugoslavia set up a final showdown with Argentina - and Uruguay ran out 4-2 winners.

La Celeste's second triumphant World Cup campaign came in 1950 in Brazil when they overcame the hosts 2-1 in the crucial clash.

They have never managed to reach the final since that glorious day in Rio de Janeiro but they have made it to the semi-finals on a further three occasions, most recently in 2010 when they lost 3-2 against the Netherlands.

England - 1966

England, priced at 8/1 to prevail in Qatar, sealed their one and only World Cup win on home soil in 1966.

The Three Lions made an underwhelming start as they drew 0-0 with Uruguay but wins over Mexico and France saw them top the section and advance to the knockout phase.

Alf Ramsey's side beat Argentina in the quarter-finals before edging beyond Portugal to set up a final against West Germany at Wembley.

The game was tied at 2-2 after 90 minutes but England came through to earn a 4-2 win following extra time as Geoff Hurst scored twice to complete his hat-trick.

Spain - 2010

Like England, Spain have only tasted success at the World Cup on one occasion.

Incredibly, Spain have only made it through to the final once but they held their nerve to come through an extremely tense tie with the Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Spain had a hugely talented crop of players and the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, David Villa, Carles Puyol and Sergio Ramos gelled to finally bring the trophy back home.

They didn't concede a single goal in the knockout phase, beating Portugal, Paraguay and Germany before seeing off the Netherlands 1-0 in extra time of the final.

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