The football world cup is the single greatest global sport competition with the twenty second edition held in Qatar,it has produced a variety of world champions with Five of the first time winners Host world champions, The winners are still limited to South America and Europe with eight nations privileged to have lifted the trophy making them arguably the best within their reign until dethroned or knocked out in the next edition in most cases  a winner emerges  interestingly, the defending Champion was defeated in the finals in this year`s edition. In history, two countries have  extended their reign, one each from the winning continent.


Before Qatar from the 21 editions, Brazil( 1958,2002), Germany(2014) and Spain(2010) have outright won outside their continents but Brazil(1958,1970,1994,2002) and Argentina (1986)representing South America while Spain(2010) and Germany(2014) representing Europe has won in a different continent. the host has won 6 times. The statistics before the 21st century clearly shows  that the host has an advantage.  six have won from such privilege, like in The global football paradox of the world champions

when age cheating was not attributed as a major advantage, political influence and bad officiating in this case will not be considered much of an advantage like age cheating, such under arm practices existed but it is still not so obvious or absolute. Cases like the English third goal in the 1966 final against Germany which hit the crossbar and seemingly did not go in , Argentina 1978 when it was suggested that Peru agreed to lose to the host for political benefits under a military regime, while in 1982  the  Germany/Austria  collusion against Algeria, in Mexico 86 could England have won against Argentina without Maradona`s hand of god goal? For France 98 the mysterious illness of Ronaldo, or the much earlier withdrawal of countries from particular continents?  credit to FIFA that some rules have been modified like the final group matches played simultaneously to avoid giving any sort of advantage to any team and the removal of the second round group format,also the introduction of  the back pass rule which discouraged unnecessary time wasting and the recent  use of technology called VAR.  All these rules were to create a better and fair level playing field  but arguably in most cases the winners have been the best from the rest and the focus is on the trend which the host nations have benefited from,  it was never an absolute advantage,if it was then all the great host nations will win.


The French, the first host not to win in the third edition in 1938 were not considered a football force in the thirties but the fourth edition hosted by Brazil was the most celebrated case that started a trend of capable nations unable to exploit this advantage

The fall of the Giants

Brazil curiously have not won as host in two attempts, they were put in  national mourning when they failed to win in 1950, they were the Copa America champions with the tournament format, a draw would have been enough for victory but they lost to Uruguay even after taking the lead in the second half. The Selecao had another opportunity in 2014 with a better prospect, they were the most dominant nation with 5 titles but they succumbed to huge expectations, they were annihilated by Germany in the semifinals by 7­­­­­-1, the most significant defeat in their  great football history, they  had conceded five unreplied goals in the first half alone, this experience was even worse than their first hosting expedition. They had beaten the great Spanish team convincingly to win the confederation cup a year before, they had Scolari the coach that guided them to their last title in 2002 back in the saddle and Neymar their star man in fine form but a lot of things did not look right, after advancing top of their  group they won an emotional second round match against Chile on penalties, they defeated the exciting Colombia in the quarter finals in a seemingly Pyrrhic victory losing two key men, in defense Thiago Silva received a second yellow card making him ineligible for the clash with the Germans and Neymar was injured against their South American rivals, it did not help their case against the Germans even without their absence something in that team was amiss, they never recovered from the massacre and were thrashed again by the Dutch in the classification match although not as comprehensive as in their previous encounter.

The Italians had won before as host in 1934 and were prepared in 1990, with an assembly of stars from Serie A, then the best league with the best club in Europe-AC Milan,they had world best player Baggio, world cup winner Baresi, others like Maldini, captain Bergomi, Ancelotti( Part of Milan`s dominance and  the current coach of Real Madrid the European club champions), Mancini(current coach of the Italians-European champions), Vialli and new sensation Schillaci they struggled to score goals but won all their group matches without conceding a goal. edging both Austria and USA with 1-0 wins and Czechoslovakia   2-0  they extended their  no goal conceded streak in wins against Uruguay 2-0 and Ireland 1-0 in the knockout stages then their defense was breached in the semi finals when Caniggia scored in the second half to cancel out Schillaci`s first half lead. the match went on to penalties which they lost 3-4.  they beat England to win bronze. Their man Salvatore Schillachi was the highest goal scorer and  the tournament`s best player just like Kempes.       

The Germans had won as hosts in 1974 and was attempting to win again in 2006 like the Italian`s  attempt to win for the second time,as host in 1990, they hired Klinsmann a world cup winner as a player in Italy 1990 as  coach, with Low as assistant and a team that had Klose(he went on to become the all time leading scorer at the world cup)Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Podolski,Kahn(the keeper won the 2002 MVP) and  Ballack,they did not have the depth of great players like the Italians in 1990 but  had an exciting and attacking team, they won all their matches within ninety minutes  then they beat Argentina in the quarter finals on penalties, with a scientific approach of understanding how the South America`s penalty takers will shoot, which Lehman was checking before each penalty kick.  the victory extended their penalty winning streak to four wins both teams were tied at three. In the semi finals against the Italians that they had lost to earlier in a  pre-tournament friendly, they had their chances and as the game was itching into penalty shoot out they fancied their impressive record and the Italian`s poor performance on penalties but they were woken from their dream in the 119th minute in extra time with a stunning goal from Grosso from a delightful  reverse pass from Pirlo  and substitute Del Piero finished them off in  the 121st minute.  they won the bronze with an impressive 3-1 win  against Portugal. Klose won the golden boot with five goals.

The Others

The French failed in their first attempt in 1938 and like the Spanish in 1982 were not yet the major force in world football capable of winning the biggest prize. Although the Spanish were European champions in 1964 they were still behind in terms of the extra level needed to become world champions.The Swedish as host in 1958 were finalist, Olympic champions ten years earlier, group finalist in 1950 at the world cup when the requirement was for four teams to compete for the title in a group format they finished third, they won another bronze two years later at the Helsinki Olympics. they were formidable and could have been world champions if not for the outstanding Brazilians that beat them in the finals. for Double hosts Mexico(1970,1986), Switzerland(1954)and Chile (1962)were like south Korea and Japan(2002), south Africa (2010)and Russia (2018)not favorites and were not expected to win but the Koreans finished a respectable fourth. For Qatar, they went out in this year`s tournament without a single point the worst performance in history.


It may not be considered lucky although some elements of luck are also required as host champions if put into consideration the very good host teams that did not win.


The first world champions and very worthy, they were double(1924,1928) Olympic champions the strongest competition at that time, hosting was not a burden, they won all their matches winning against Peru 1-0 and Romania 4-0  they crushed Yugoslavia 6-1 in the semi finals, In the final against Copa America champion Argentina a team they beat to  retain  their  Olympic title two years ago they won 4-2. they set a record for having the youngest ever title winning coach 31 years old Alberto Suppici.

ITALY 1934

The first European winners and the first to retain the trophy, this win was a Launchpad for  three more  world titles. They defeated  USA 7-1  their biggest win at the world cup,They  also won a replay  against Spain 1-0 after the match was tied 1-1 and then  Austria  with a hard fought 1-0 in the semi finals  they beat Czechoslovakia in the finals despite going behind from a goal scored by Puc they equalized through Orsi, the first half ended 1-1 and  it remained the same until extra time when  Schiavio scored the winner. they won again in France four years later.


It was their only title, sandwiched in between the all-conquering reign of the  Brazilians between 1958 and 1970. The English were in a group with former champions Uruguay, future champion France and Mexico. they drew goalless with the south Americans and then beat both Mexico and France by 2-0, they beat Argentina by a lone goal scored by Hurst after Rattin was sent off. The English beat debut ants Portugal in the semi final with two goals from Charlton with Eusebio reducing the deficit. the finals was against 1954 world champions Germany with the match ending 4-2 in extra time after finishing two goals apiece. Hurst scored a hat trick which is still a record(equaled by Mbappe). it still remains the only major victory for England at the senior level.


The great German team added the world title to their European crown of two years ago setting a precedence in Europe, they won the finals by beating the Dutch, a team that will always be remembered as one of the greatest never to win the world cup. it was their second title and they went on to win two more world titles. The finals was a clash of two of the best teams with both sides largely made up of two of Europe`s best sides in the 70s Bayern Munich and Ajax. the Dutch took the lead with virtually the first kick of the ball when they attacked and won a penalty which Neeskens converted, Breitner scored the equalizer for the Germans with a penalty in the 25th minute and Muller scored what appeared to be the winning goal in the 43rd minute. The Germans with Bayern Munich also dominated the European cup winning three titles in succession from 1974-1976 Beckenbauer was the epitome  of  their success for both country and club.


The Argentines  had a collection of talents they even had the luxury of not picking Maradona. they started from a very difficult group by beating  both Hungary then France by 2-1 before losing to Italy by a lone goal. In the second group stage they  defeated Poland 2-0 drew goalless with Brazil and thrashed Peru 6-0 which was enough to edge out Brazil to reach the finals against the Dutch, finalist in the previous edition.

Kempes, La liga top scorer(1976/1977), scored in the first half  tying the tournament`s highest goal scorer Dutchman Rensenbrink with five goals but Nanninga equalized late in the second half to send the match into extra time. Kempes again  and Bertoni scored for the Host making them champions for the first time. Mario Kempes won the golden boot and MVP awards. he went on to retain the golden boot in the Spanish league.


The last world champions as host, they had endured a lean spell after the promising run to the semifinals twice in the eighties, they failed to qualify in the  nineties(1990 and 1994) but came as host in 1998 with a strong team made up of veterans Lizarazu ,Blanc, Desailly and Descchamps(their current coach) with a fine blend  of youngsters like Henry and Trezeguet. for Zidane, this tournament was an emergence into sporting immortality. They were placed in a relatively easy group and they won all their matches beating South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Denmark. They needed extra time and a golden goal to beat Paraguay, it was scored by Blanc In the second round encounter and penalties to stop Italy in the quarter finals,in the semi finals they needed to score two goals  and it came from the most unlikely of scorers Thuram(it was the full back`s only international goals in 142 matches)when they beat Croatia after going behind and  in the finals against the mighty Brazilians, the defending champions were beaten by three unreplied goals. Zidane with  two headed brace and Petit adding an icing on the cake with the third goal in the dying moments of the match. It was their first title, they  came to Qatar as defending champions.


Argentina the best at utilizing the leverage of Host.

For the first time winners, five of the eight champions won their maiden title as host and most of them went on to win more titles. Italy had set the standard in the thirties when they retained it after winning as host with Argentina the quickest to win another title since the world cup had run uninterrupted every four years since 1950 and with more participants(tougher opposition)their victory in 1978 preceded after another host Germany had won, which is a record equaling Uruguay and Italy`s successive victories as host.

Argentina has the best run in forty years since Italy`s achievement.

An argument can be made for Uruguay host winners in 1930 did not participate in the next two editions for non-sporting reasons, came back in 1950 to win it and finished fourth in 1954

The Albiceleste`s outstanding impact  is, more of two factors; hosting advantage and quality players with a winning mind set. At that time they were better than the rest, despite the fact that the others had quality and were also capable of winning.  They have been able to produce all-time great players that have influenced football history, In the 50s they had Di Stefano a great that helped Spanish giants Real Madrid dominate club football. In the 70s they had Maradona that helped Argentina win their first U20 world cup and had a credible outing in the senior level in 1982 and was very instrumental in their second title win in 1986 and a finalist appearance in 1990. in their first win as host in 1978 they had some outstanding players like Kempes and Passarella one of history`s highest scoring defenders.It was the best title run in three tournaments until Brazil`s run of two titles from three consecutive finals from 1994 to 2002. Which is closely behind the best run of 3 titles from 4 tournaments also by the Brazilians from 1958 to 1970. The South Americans surely know how to rule the world  in football. In the 21st century they have Messi, that helped Barca with winning multiple champions league titles.  He like, Maradona also won the U20 world cup in 2005 and  he added the Olympics in 2008(they retained it after winning it in 2004). Messi has been able to translate such incredible club success into another but a  better golden Argentina reign(they are now  the Copa America champions, Finalissima champions and now the world champions)despite  starting the world cup in defeat to Saudi Arabia which was one of the most shocking results in history, their first of such humiliating defeat was in Italy 1990 when they lost to Cameroun and still reached the finals, this year`s defeat also snapped 36 games without defeat. Argentina`s unbeaten run a gift streaking to glory or a curse was indeed a blessing in disguise as a result of that defeat,with the lessons  well taken from that opening loss, they reached the knockout stages and went a step further by  winning the final despite that setback, they even topped their group. It was obvious that the Qatar world cup will have a champion from the past, both finalist had won in the past, The Argentines won their third title and south America`s tenth title, Although the Europeans have an edge but not in Qatar, Asia hosted the world cup twice, in both times South America won it. perfect score!

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