With two potentially epic semi-finals in prospect between Brazil and Germany and Argentina and the Netherlands, here are five classic World Cup semi-finals:
Stockholm, June 24,1958
BRAZIL 5 FRANCE 2
Pele, who was 17 years old, had scored his first World Cup goal in Brazil’s 1-0 win over Wales in the quarter-finals but at a time when television was beginning to expand, his fame rapidly spread after his performance in the semi-final against France.
The stage was set for a classic after Vava put Brazil ahead in the second minute and Just Fontaine equalised seven minutes later. Didi put Brazil back in front six minutes before half-time, then Pele took over.
He scored a 23-minute hat-trick with goals in the 52nd, 64th and 75th minutes to secure Brazil’s place in the final before Roger Piantoni scored a late consolation to make the score 5-2.
Brazil won the World Cup against Sweden by the same scoreline with Pele scoring another two goals to take his 1958 World Cup tally to six.
Mexico City, June 17, 1970
ITALY 4 WEST GERMANY 3 (AET)
One of the greatest matches of all time remembered mainly for the astonishing extra-time period that settled it and put Italy into the final for the first time since 1938.
Roberto Boninsegna’s eighth minute goal looked like winning it for the Italians in front of a 102,000 crowd at the Azteca Stadium but as injury time drew to an end German sweeper Karl-Heinz Schnellinger equalised.
After four minutes of extra time West Germany struck again with Gerd Mueller putting them 2-1 ahead to start a frantic burst of five goals in 17 minutes.
Tarcisio Burgnich made it 2-2 before Gigi Riva put the Italians back in front later with a shot on the turn.
That lead only last six minutes before Mueller scored to make it 3-3. The Italians went straight up the other end with Gianni Rivera striking in the 111th minute to make it 4-3.
One of the lasting memories of the game is Franz Beckenbauer playing with his arm across his chest in a makeshift sling as he continued playing after dislocating his shoulder.
Italy returned to the Azteca a few days later and lost 4-1 to Brazil in the final.
Seville, July 8, 1982
WEST GERMANY 3 FRANCE 3 (AET)
West Germany won 5-4 on penalties
Twelve years after their defeat to Italy in the 1970 semis, West Germany triumphed in 1982 in one of the World Cup’s most dramatic and controversial matches, featuring the infamous assault by German keeper Harald Schumacher on Patrick Battiston.
That incident was crucial to the outcome, because although Battiston was badly injured by Schumacher’s reckless flying mid-air challenge and ended the day in hospital, the goalkeeper was not even yellow-carded and kept his place in goal for the penalty shoot-out which the Germans won.
France though, appeared to be heading for their first final when they led 3-1 after eight minutes of extra time.
Although Pierre Littbarski had given West Germany a 17th minute lead, that had been cancelled out by a Michel Platini penalty soon after and the French, the better side, almost won the game when Manuel Amoros hit the crossbar in stoppage time.
Justice appeared to be done when Marius Tresor and Alain Giresse struck to put France 3-1 ahead after 98, but with injured captain Karl-Heinz Rummenigge coming off the bench to lead the fightback, the Germans pulled level with goals from Rummenigge and Klaus Fischer before they won in the World Cup’s first shoot-out.
They then met Italy in the final, and, as they had been in the 1970 semi, were beaten again, 3-1 in Madrid.
Turin, July 4, 1990
WEST GERMANY 1 ENGLAND 1 (AET)
West Germany won 4-3 on penalties
England reached the semi-finals for the first time since 1966 but Germany triumphed in a highly emotional and dramatic clash.
Andreas Brehme put Germany ahead after an hour with a deflected free-kick before Gary Lineker equalised 10 minutes from time.
One of the more famous TV images of those finals, is a shot of Paul Gascoigne welling up in tears after a booking that would have kept him out of the final and the camera then focusing on Lineker, turning to the English bench, and mouthing “have a word with him”, indicating they should try to keep Gascoigne calm for the remainder of the match.
Neither team scored again in extra time – though both hit the woodwork – so the outcome was decided by penalties with both sides scoring their first three. Stuart Pearce then missed for England, Olaf Thon scored for West Germany to make it 4-3 before Chris Waddle famously sent his penalty into orbit to give the Germans victory.
Another iconic moment followed as German captain Lothar Matthaeus consoled a distraught Waddle after the game.
The other semi-final between hosts Italy and Argentina also ended in a 1-1 draw and a 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory for the Argentines who lost 1-0 to the Germans in the final.
Paris, July 8, 1998
FRANCE 2 CROATIA 1
On a night of almost unbelievable tension France, playing at home in their capital city, came from behind to reach the World Cup final for the first time.
Croatia, competing as an independent nation for the first time and riding on an emotional wave of support from home, had impressed throughout the tournament and qualified for the last four in style, beating Germany 3-0 in the quarter-finals.
France, as hosts had looked superb for most of the tournament with wins over South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Denmark and Paraguay before reaching the semis with a penalty shoot-out win over Italy.
But they fell behind to Croatia just after half-time when Davor Suker scored, although the match turned a minute later when defender Lilian Thuram equalised, before scoring what proved to be the winner 20 minutes from time. They were the only goals he scored in a 142-cap, 14-year international career.
The match was marred by the sending off of French defender Laurent Blanc 14 minutes from time for elbowing Croatian Slaven Bilic although TV replays proved that Bilic feigned the injury.
That kept Blanc out of the final which France won with a 3-0 victory over Brazil.