History often remembers the winners, while the runner up is often shed aside. Finals have not always featured spectacular games and unexpected turnarounds. But when you look at the history of third-places matches at the World Cup, you might come to the conclusion that they displayed far better games than the finals themselves.
The third-place match often includes two mentally-drained sides that just edged out of reaching the finals. Their consolidation price is a place on the podium along with the winners and the second-best team.
But for obvious reasons, the third team always looks happier than the second team.
Let’s see who are those smiling faces that won their third-place games in a spectacular fashion.
Brazil vs Netherlands 0-3 (2014)
Brazil’s 2014 World Cup campaign on home soil was a disaster, to say the least. After an embarrassing loss to Germany in the semi-finals by 7-1, Brazil needed a victory and at least get a medal in the third-place match.
However, it seems that they were mentally drained and suffered another disappointing loss at the hands of the Dutchmen. They lost the game by 3-0 and suffered their first back-to-back loss on the world stage since 1940.
Germany vs Uruguay 3-2 (2010)
Saying that the 2010 World Cup third-place game is anything more than spectacular would be an understatement. This tournament marked the rise of both teams. Germany introduced its next generation of footballers that would go on and win the next tournament in Brazil. On the other hand, Uruguay was not just the surprise team of the tournament, they went on to win the next Copa America and also qualified for the next two World Cup tournaments with ease.
But this game saw turnaround after turnaround. First Germany led then Uruguay equalized and took the lead in the second half. However, the German attack took control and managed to score two goals with the winning one coming from Sami Khedira late into the game.
South Korea vs Turkey 2-3 (2002)
Both teams were the breakout teams of the tournament. So even the losers would benefit from this game. It was a friendly encounter that saw Turkey take a lead thanks to the effort from Hakan Sukur who scored the fastest ever goal in World Cup history after only 10.8 seconds.
Sukur, who had a miserable tournament thus far, made two assists to his fellow attacker Ilhan Mansiz to score two more goals which were enough for a 3-2 victory against the co-hosts of the tournament and Turkey’s biggest success at the World Cup stage after qualifying only once back in 1954.
Brazil vs Sweden 4-2 (1938)
Everybody says that Brazil should have won the 1938 World Cup. Most blame the coach, Adhemar Pimenta, for resting Leonidas, Brazil’s biggest star and tournament’s top scorer, in the semi-final match against Italy.
But history tells things otherwise as Leonidas was plagued by injuries during the whole tournament. He started the first leg of the tournament in an awfully, muddy pitch and played without boots on. In the quarter-finals, he was severely beaten by the Yugoslav defense during the whole match. Nevertheless, Leonidas came back in the third-place match against the Swedes to score two goals and help Brazil in gaining the consolation prize.