Last weekend at the #WorldCupAtHome we witnessed one of the greatest players in the history of football in his first major tournament. We also observed the peak of a great rivalry as well as a moment of great sportsmanship in the face of a bitter defeat.

 

Lionel Messi, FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005, Brazil – Argentina 1:2 (Semi-final)  | ©FIFA Museum
Friday, May 1st  
FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005, Brazil – Argentina 1:2 (Semi-final) 
(Click here to watch the full match)

It would seem that Argentinian Lionel Messi knew how to captivate an audience from a young age, as displayed in the #WorldCupAtHome match from the Netherlands 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship. He put his team on the winning track to the final by scoring the first goal of the semi-final against Brazil. He then went on to score both goals in the 2:1 victory over Nigeria in the Final. His performance triggered comparisons with a young Maradona, who had led the Argentinian junior national team to the title in 1979. Two years earlier, in 1977, the second-oldest FIFA tournament after the Men's World Cup had celebrated its premiere in Tunisia. With six victories to their name, the Argentinians are still the record winners of the tournament, which was renamed the FIFA U-20 World Cup after 2005. Incidentally, this was the year that Messi not only won the title, but the Golden Boot as top scorer and the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player. Nine years later, he was once again voted best player of a tournament, however this time it was as captain of the Argentinian national team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. His shirt from that tournament is part of our collection.

 

Lothar Matthäus and Ruud Gullit, 1990 FIFA World Cup Italia, Germany FR – Netherlands 2:1 (Round of 16)  | ©FIFA Museum
Saturday, May 2nd  
1990 FIFA World Cup Italia, Germany FR – Netherlands 2:1 (Round of 16) 
(Click here to watch the full match)

The 1990 FIFA World Cup round of 16 match between West Germany and the Netherlands was a heated encounter. Before one goal has even been scored, the referee had sent off a player from each team with straight red cards for both Frank Rijkard and Rudi Völler. The Germans then adapted to the additional space on the pitch and, after goals from Jürgen Klinsmann and Andreas Brehme, won the match 2-1. The Netherlands got a consolatory goal back in the form of a penalty kick from Ronald Koeman but t just wasn’t enough. The game thus ended exactly like the final of the 1974 World Cup in Germany, with a 2-1 score-line for the Germans. Perhaps it was a good omen, because after their victory in the 1990 round of sixteen, Germany went on to win the title for the third time. Captain Lothar Matthaus' jersey from the tournament, signed by the whole team, is on display in our museum. Fortunately, Völler and Rijkard have since reconciled after their World Cup tiff, and even appeared on television six years later - in a commercial for butter.

 

Japanese National Team, 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, Belgium – Japan 3:2 (Round of 16)  | ©FIFA Museum
Sunday, May 3rd  
2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, Belgium – Japan 3:2 (Round of 16) 
(Click here to watch the full match)

It was an extremely bitter defeat for Japan in the round of 16 at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Two quick goals after half-time gave the Japanese a comfortable lead over Belgium and surely a spot in the quarter-finals. But instead of giving up, the Belgians managed to equalise the game by the 74th minute. At the end of injury time there was a corner-kick for Japan, but the Belgians turned the set piece to their advantage – overunning the Japanese to score the winner in the last seconds of the game. And so the Red Devils became the first team in 48 years to come back from a 2-0 deficit and win a match in the knockout stages of a FIFA World Cup. Despite the heartbreaking turn of events, the Japanese team and fans displayed an inspiring attitude of good sportsmanship. The fans collected rubbish in the sections of the stadium where they had watched the game – just as they had in the group stages. While the team and coaches left their locker rooms in pristine condition. They also left "thank you" notes accompanied by tiny origami gifts for their hosts. One of these "thank you" notes is on display in our museum.

 

Amandine Henry, FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, France – Brazil 2:1 a.e.t. (Round of 16)  | ©FIFA Museum
Monday, May 4th   
FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, France – Brazil 2:1 a.e.t. (Round of 16) 
(Click here to watch the full match)

After three wins in the group stage, hosts France went into the last sixteen as favourites against Brazil. Despite winning two of their three matches, Brazil had finished their group in third place. While it was a goalless first half, the match proved to be one of the most exciting of the tournament, with Valérie Gauvin of France scoring the opener in the 52nd minute. The French had never lost a World Cup game when they were leading and Brazil had never come back from a match when they were 1-0 down. This game was no different, but the Brazilians weren’t about to let tradition dictate their play and equalised in the 63rd minute through Thaisa. They almost took the edge in the 87th minute, but Tamires' goal was rightly denied due to offside. In extra time, Henry did just as Henry does. The France captain scored the decisive goal on a volley from a free kick near the touchline, sending her country into the next round and the Brazilian team home. She wasn’t the first Henry to achieve this feat, as her namesake Thierry Henry scored the winning goal in the 2006 quarter-finals against Brazil from a Zidane free kick from outside the area. To commemorate the 2019 match, we have Amandine Henry's signed captain's armband in our collection.