- The Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off in exactly two years
- We look back at the most memorable opening match of all time
- All the goals, all the excitement and more than a surprise or two
We know the date but not the teams that will take part: The Opening Match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 ™ takes place on 21 November 2022, two years from now.
A lot will happen before that, starting with UEFA’s preliminary draw on 7 December, but before that we’ll whet your appetite by looking back on some of the most unforgettable World Cup opening matches of all time.
The first two: Uruguay 1930
July 13, 1930, Montevideo: France 4-1 Mexico and the US 3-0 Belgium
There was not one opening game at the inaugural World Cup but two. It was snowing as the tournament started on July 13, 1930, with France and the US beating Mexico and Belgium respectively. One name stands out on this important day, namely Lucien Laurent, the first goalscorer in World Cup history.
Trendsetter: England 1966
11 July 1966, London: England 0-0 Uruguay
Prior to 1966, the World Cup almost always started with several matches being played at the same time. For example, Italy 1934 started with no fewer than eight knockout matches starting simultaneously. And even when Switzerland and Germany started the process in France 1938 with a 1-1 draw after extra time (Switzerland won 4-2 in a rematch five days later), it was not considered the opening match. England and Uruguay had the honor of contesting the first match in 1966 and set an unfavorable trend in the process, with the next three World Cup opening matches (Mexico v USSR in 1970, Brazil v Yugoslavia in 1974, and Poland v West Germany in 1978. ) also ended in a goalless draw.
Wet squib: Germany 1974
13 June 1974, Frankfurt: Brazil 0-0 Yugoslavia
Even though it was winter, wet and windy when the tenth World Cup kicked off in Frankfurt, the meeting between the reigning world champions and a technically talented team with a reputation as “Brazilians in Europe” promises to make up for the sad weather. Unfortunately, it failed to deliver and eased into a tame 0-0 draw.
The surprise: Spain 1982
June 13, 1982, Barcelona: Argentina 0-1 Belgium
After four consecutive goalless draws, all indications that the goal curse from the Opening Match would continue when Argentina met Belgium in 1982. Belgium striker Erwin Vandenbergh had other ideas, however, to end a goal drought in the 422th minute of the World Cup opener. and gave the Red Devils an unexpected win over the reigning world champions, led by Diego Maradona.
Surprise: Italy 1990
8 June 1990, Milan, Argentina 0-1 Cameroon
For the second time in their history, Argentina started a World Cup defense with a stumble, this time against Cameroon, which saw two players out. A star studded Albiceleste the line-up, once again spearheaded by Maradona, fell against a solitary Francois Omam-Biyik, as the Indomitable Lions recorded one of the biggest surprises in World Cup history.
Upset: Korea / Japan 2002
31 May 2002, Seoul: France 0-1 Senegal
The question that is often asked is not if defending champions France will win against Senegal, however How many they will win. Like Cameroon 12 years earlier, the Senegalese player made his debut in the competition. Although the encounter between a team filled with stars from Europe’s top clubs and a relatively unknown bunch seemed a long-gone conclusion, it ended in stunning African success, when Papa Bouba Diop scored the goal to give new boys. it was the famous 1-0 win.
Goal feast: Germany 2006
June 9, 2006, Munich: Germany 4-2 Costa Rica
For the first time since 1970, the hosts had the ball rolling. The sun shone and 66,000 fans roared their approval as Germany and Costa Rica held an attacking football festival. Philipp Lahm opened the scoring with a superb shot into the top corner of the net. Paulo Wanchope equalized The Ticos before Miroslav Klose, who would become the all-time World Cup top scorer eight years later, scored twice to put Germany in control. Wanchope pulled one back to complete his own two goals, with Torsten Frings sealing a 4-2 win for the hosts and two World Cup records: Germany’s fourth opening win and most goals ever in an opening match.
The one with vuvuzelas: South Africa 2010
11 June 2010, Johannesburg: South Africa 1-1 Mexico
“We didn’t think about a possible draw,” said Siphiwe Tshabalala FIFA.com on game night. “We want to win this match and nothing can stop us.” The South African midfielder must have thought his words had come true when he scored a superb opener Bafana Bafana in 55 minutes. Amid thundering vuvuzelas, however, Mexico equalized 11 minutes from time, capping off an unforgettable night.
One with a substitute who scores: Russia 2018
14 June 2018, Moscow: Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia
Even though Brazil beat Mexico 5-0 on the first match day in Switzerland 1954, it wasn’t actually the opening match, as Yugoslavia beat France 1-0 at the same time. That means that the biggest win ever recorded in the Opening Matches of the World Cup came in the most recent, when Russia beat Saudi Arabia, thanks to its many successors. Before Denis Cheryshev and Artem Dzyuba, who scored three of their team’s five goals between them, no player had ever come off the bench to score in the world final opener.