The FIFA World Cup semifinals includes the four best teams in the world playing for a place in soccer's biggest game. For the four teams cup glory is just two games away. These are a few of the enthralling semifinals played in the cup.
West Germany vs Italy
West Germany reached the semifinals of the 1970 World Cup after a fine comeback against England in the quarter-finals. In the semifinals they played a rock solid Italy team that gave little away at the back. They played at the Azteca Stadium that, with more than 100,000 in attendance, was packed to the rafters for this game.
The crowd certainly picked a great soccer game to turn out for! In the first half the Italians took an early lead with a strike from outside the penalty box. They remained 1 - 0 up for almost the rest of the match until a last-minute German equalizer ensured the game went to extra-time.
What might have otherwise been a somewhat inconspicuous semifinal became the Match of the Century during the extra-time period. In the first half of extra-time Muller put the Germans in front. A few minutes later the Italians equalized, and Riva put Italy ahead to make the score 3 - 2.
In the latter half of the extra-time period the flood of goals continued. Muller headed the ball in from close range to make the score 3 - 3. Barely a minute later France played the ball in from the left of Germany's penalty box for Rivera to slot home with a low strike. That made the final score Italy 4 - Germany 3, and the Italians celebrated a glorious victory.
Brazil vs France
When Brazil played France in the 1958 semifinals, the stage was set for the then somewhat unknown Pele. Pele was one of the outstanding players in Brazil's team, but France also had some terrific forwards such as the prolific Fontaine who was scoring goals in every World Cup game. Both players had some impact in this match.
Brazil made an explosive start, and opened the scoring within the first few minutes. However, their attacking dazzle dampened after Fontaine equalized for France. Shortly before halftime Brazil regained the lead, and the first half ended with the score at 2 - 1.
Brazil won the game shortly after the interval when Pele scored with a tap-in. After that goal France caved-in, and Pele scored a second later in the half. With little more than 15 minutes to go Brazil continued to press forward, and Pele volleyed in another goal from the edge of the box. It was a historic hat-trick that made the score 5 - 1, but France scored a late goal to end the game 5 - 2 down. Brazil's attacking verve, and the majestic Pele, had swept France aside.
France vs West Germany
France played West Germany in the 1982 semifinals. This encounter was perhaps one of the most exciting World Cup games ever played. In the first half the Germans went a goal up with a strike from the edge of the box, but France struck back when Platini scored from the penalty spot.
The game remained 1 - 1 until the end of the regular 90 minutes. A thrilling extra-time period followed. France went in front with a fantastic volley that sent the ball flying into the back of Germany's net. They extended their lead with a fine strike from the edge Germany's penalty box.
All of a sudden France were 3 - 1 up, but you can never rule out the Germans. Minutes after France's third goal they pulled one back to make the score 3 - 2. With little more than 10 minutes to play, Germany equalized to take the game to penalties. During the shoot-out, West Germany emerged victorious.
Hungary vs Uruguay
Hungary were the red-hot favorites to win the 1954 FIFA World Cup. This team included the majestic Puskas and Kocsis up front. Their forwards scored a glut of goals in the group stage against teams such as West Germany, who they beat with an emphatic 8 – 3 victory. In the semifinals they played the defending champions Uruguay.
Both teams provided a marvelous semifinal in a rain-soaked Stade Olympique de la Pontaise. Hungary went ahead shortly before the quarter-hour mark. The first half ended with Hungary a goal up.
In the second half they extended their lead when Hidegkuti headed the ball into Uruguay's net. However, Uruguay were not defeated; and with about 15 minutes to go they scored. Uruguay equalized shortly before the end of the game.
The match went to extra-time. Then the Hungarians broke the deadlock in the last 10 minutes. Kocsis scored twice to seal victory for Hungary.
Those matches were among the greatest FIFA World Cup semifinals. With the teams providing terrific displays of attacking soccer the games had plenty of goals.