The 2018 World Cup is fast approaching and the competition’s usual favorites are lining up. Today we take a look at three otherwise great footballing nations that have never won the World Cup trophy.
Few countries have a football history as rich as that of the Netherlands. And certainly none have dealt with as much frustration in the World Cup tournaments. The Flying Dutchmen have reached the final on three occasions, losing each time by narrow margins.
Their most famous final was in the 1974 tournament when they were lead by one of football’s greatest players, Johann Cruyff. Netherlands played West Germany and even though the team took an early lead, the Germans ended up winning by 2-1.
Holland was back in the final four years later, losing to hosts Argentina. More recently, they reached the 2010 final, but ended up losing 1-0 to Spain. Unfortunately they’ll need to wait at least four more years to take another crack at winning the trophy, since the Netherlands are one of the most high-profile teams that has not qualified to this year’s tournament.
Another national team with a great football history which some may be surprised to learn has never won the World Cup, Portugal has had three generations that came close to earning the prestigious trophy for Lusitania.
In 1966 the team was lead by the hugely talented Eusebio, who enjoyed a great tournament, earning the Golden Shoe as the tournament’s top scorer. Portugal finished third. The second great generation (dubbed by some The Golden Generation) emerged in the late 1990’s and was lead by the likes of Luis Figo and Nuno Gomes. Their best performance came in the 2006 World Cup, when they finished fourth, the nation’s best result in four decades.
New hope arrived with the emergence of Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the world’s greatest players. The team lead by Real Madrid’s number seven has yet to win a medal in the World Cup, but has managed an impressive victory in the Euro 2016 tournament, making them one of the favorites for this year’s World Cup tournament.
This on first sight may seem like an odd choice given the fact that Hungary hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 1986. But at one point the Eastern Europeans had a national team made up of some of the greatest players in the world. Their team was known to play very attractive football and their tactics were studied and copied by managers everywhere.
Hungary made it all the way to the final in the third edition of the World Cup, in 1938. They ended up losing to Italy. The tournament took a 12 break during the war years and the Hungarians didn’t enter the 1950 tournament. But by 1954 they had a brilliant team featuring the likes of Ferenc Puskás and often referred to as one of the best teams in football history. They qualified to the final of the tournament, but narrowly lost 3-2 to West Germany. The country lives in hope of those days soon returning.
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