The World Cup has long been regarded as the pinnacle of not just football but sport in general. Therefore, it is no wonder that it often captures the imaginations of the watching public.
Here are the five most-attended games in the history of the competition.
5 – Argentina 0-1 Belgium – 1982 – 95,500
Kicking off the top five is Argentina against Belgium which was the opening game of the 1982 World Cup held at Barcelona’s Nou Camp Stadium. A certain Diego Maradona was named in the Argentina starting line up, playing in his new country of residence after making the move from Boca Juniors in his homeland.
However, he and Argentina failed to impress in the opening game and surprisingly went down as 1-0 losers to Belgium. The crucial goal came just after the hour mark courtesy of Erwin Vandenbergh.
Both teams were eventually knocked out in the second group stage.
4 – England 4-2 West Germany – 1966 – 98,270
The 1966 World Cup final needs little introduction and it still remains the high water mark for English footballing history.
Sir Geoff Hurst’s name will forever be synonymous with a final that was watched inside the old Wembley Stadium by nearly 100,000 people. Helmut Haller gave West Germany an early lead before Hurst equalised soon after.
Martin Peters and Wolfgang Weber traded goals before Hurst scored another two in extra time to guide England to victory, with Kenneth Wolstenholme’s “they think it’s all over” line being one of the most immortal pieces of football commentary ever uttered.
3 – Mexico 1-0 Belgium – 1970 – 108,192
Another game involving Belgium, this time 12 years prior to their win over Argentina. Mexico were hosting the 1970 World Cup and fans wasted no time in getting down to watch their country play.
The Estadio Azteca was the venue for the final game in Group A as Mexico needed to win to advance through to the knockout stages.
Defender Gustavo Pena scored the only goal of the game 14 minutes in thanks to a penalty kick. Their tournament ended in the quarter-finals though, going down 4-1 to eventual runners up Italy.
2 – Mexico 1-1 Paraguay – 1986 – 114,600
Once again, a game involving Mexico drew in huge numbers as nearly 115,000 watched the 1-1 draw with Paraguay at the Estadio Azteca – the second time Mexico hosted the competition in the space of 16 years.
This time, they had to settle for a draw with Paraguay despite taking the lead inside three minutes following a Luis Flores strike. Paraguay got back on terms through Julio Cesar Romero’s goal.
Mexico topped the group with two wins and a draw and got past Bulgaria in the round of 16. However, West Germany proved too strong from 12 yards in the quarter-finals with a penalty shootout win.
1 – Brazil 1-2 Uruguay – 1950 – 173,850
A gargantuan crowd flocked to the Maracana to watch Brazil take on Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup final.
It was a game 12 years in the making with no World Cup possible in the 40s due to World War II. It was also the first time Brazil had made the final and they were hoping to win front of their own fans.
However, Uruguay were victors in the inaugural World Cup 20 years previously and they took the prize home with them once more, even though they had to do it the hard way.
Friaca gave Brazil the lead two minutes into the second half but goals from Juan Alberto Schiaffino and Alcides Ghiggia saw Uruguay roar back to victory, to the dismay of most of those fans in attendance.