Glorious Defeats

It's not about winning but how you play the game, or so the adage goes. In reality football fans the world over would gladly settle for an sneaky 1-0 victory over a marvelous display that ends in defeat. A few teams in the history of football however, deserve to be remembered even if their moment of glory was cruelly snatched from their fingers. This is our tribute to the teams that are proof that there can be glory in defeat.

1986 Denmark
1982 Brazil
1974 Holland
1954 Hungary
1934 Austria

1986 - Denmark
At a time when negative tactics dominated international football, a Danish team featuring the likes of Michael Laudrup, Jesper Olsen, Preben Elkjaer-Larsen, and Soren Lerby captured the hearts of neutral spectators with their buccaneering approach to the game. Their 6-1 group stage demolishing of Uruguay, renowned at the time for their cynical tactics, stands as a victory for positive football. Topping their group after also defeating West-Germany and Scotland, they looked set to go far in the tournament but it all ended in tears unexpectedly soon as they crashed to a 5-1 second round defeat at the hands of Spain.
In depth profile coming soon...

1982 - Brazil
Coached by Tele Santana, the 1982 Brazilian World Cup squad treated the World to a marvelous display of 'Samba Football', with starring roles performed by the midfield duo of Zico and Socrates. They seemed to be on their way to winning the cup but a decisive second group stage encounter with Italy, in which the Brazilians needed only a draw but refused to resort to negative tactics, ended in a shock 3-2 defeat with Paolo Rossi scoring a hattrick. It is a testament to Santana's popularity and to the unanimous respect his team's performance generated, that he became the only Brazilian coach in history to survive a World Cup exit.
In depth profile coming soon...

1974 - Holland
In 1974 an exciting Dutch team amazed the world with their free-flowing 'Total Football' style of play. Coached by Rinus Michels, the team featured stars like Johan Cruyff, Wim van Hanegem, Ruud Krol and Arie Haan. On their way to the final they demolished the South-American giants Argentina and Brazil (4-0 and 2-0). In the final they took the lead after they had a penalty awarded before opponents West-Germany had been able to get so much as a single touch of the ball in. However two shock goals by Gerd Muller and a flurry of missed Dutch opportunities, meant the Clockwork Orange went down in history as the greatest team not to have won the World Cup.
In depth profile coming soon...

1954 - Hungary
Hungary were the dominant national team of the early 1950s. In 1952 they had won Olympic Gold in Helsinki and a year later they had resolutely put an end to the myth that England were the world's strongest team. The "Magical Magyars" arrived at the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland undefeated in four years and were firm favorites to win the title. Unfortunately their biggest star Ferenc Puskas picked up an injury early on in the tournament. The Hungarians made it to the final nonetheless, with striker Sandor Kocsis notching up no less than 11 goals on the way, but then disaster struck as West-Germany were able to clinch the title.

1934 - Austria
'Das Wunderteam' was the nickname of the Austrian national side of the early 1930's. Under the guidance of their jewish coach Hugo Meisl, their tactics represented an amalgamation of the various central-european football styles. Between 1931 and 1933 they had been widely recognized as the premier team in Europe. They were past their prime going into the 1934 World Cup, with a number of players no longer available because they had chosen to go 'pro', but it still took some shocking refereeing to guide Mussolini's Italians past the Austrian masters in the semifinals.
In depth profile coming soon...