Soccer is serious business in most parts of the world, and nothing is taken more seriously than a team’s performance in the World Cup. By no means scientific, this article attempts to rank the World Cup success of soccer’s elite nations at the world’s biggest sporting event.
Without a doubt, any discussion about the most successful nations in World Cup history begins with Brazil. Having won a record 5 World Cup tournaments, the Brazilians are also the only team to have ever qualified for every World Cup since competition began in 1930. Brazil has produced some of the finest soccer players ever to grace the pitch. Soccer greats such as Pele, the only player to have ever won the World Cup 3 times, and Ronaldo, the current all time leading World Cup goal scorer, suited up for the Samba Kings.
Winning 3 World Cup’s themselves, Germany, and West Germany before it, is slotted in at number two by virtue of having more final four finishes than any other team. It seems like in every tournament, even one’s like the most recent 2010 World Cup where they weren’t considered as contenders, Germany finds a way into the semi-finals. An excellent player development program and fantastic coaching combined with good structure and organization means that the German’s should never be underestimated in international competition.
Even though the Italians have won 4 tournaments, they are slotted behind the German’s by virtue of being much less consistent. Notoriously slow starters, the Italians are known for their fantastic defensive play and generally find their game as the tournament wears on. However, they are unpredictable, often struggling and are just as frequently eliminated in the early rounds of tournaments having reached the final four of the tournament fewer times than either Germany or Brazil.
The other Latin American powerhouse, Argentina has won the World Cup 2 times and remains hugely influential on international soccer. While not obtaining the same level of international success as Brazil, they are usually grouped with their neighbors as perennial favourites at every tournament. Like Brazil, the Argentine’s strength lies in the individual talent and skill of the players they produce, with the perfect example being the current world player of the year, Lionel Messi.
By virtue of having won two World Cup’s (albeit, a long, long time ago in a far, far different era), Uruguay finds itself in the number 5 spot on this list. While the Uruguayans have been silent for what seems like an eternity, their recent journey to a fourth placed finish at the 2010 World Cup has proven that they still have ability to be successful on the international level.
Possessing a vast legion of rabid fans from all corners of the globe, The Netherlands are commonly referred to as «the best team to have never won the World Cup». The Dutch managed to reach the semi-finals 3 times, most famously during the 1970’s when The Netherlands’ total football teams revolutionized the way the game was played.
Struggling at the international level until very recently, Spain is slowly cementing its place as the best team currently on the planet. However, its past failures and disappointments mean that the Spanish still have a ways to go before they can catch up to the level of achievement that characterize soccer’s elite teams. With the current level of skill on the Spanish National team however, this perhaps won’t take very long.