The worst quarter/semi/final performances in World Cup history

The World Cup. In any sport this competition is the absolute pinnacle. The best players, teams and facilities come together for a few weeks with appreciating the cream of the crop the goal as games come thick and fast. Football is no different, with the iconic golden trophy the one that every player wants to lift. Winning guarantees legend status.

Alas, it’s not an easy one to claim, with seven game standing in the way, each more difficult than the last as the quality of opposition and the pressure of the situation crank up each time the whistle signals the start of another 90 minutes.

The quarter-finals onwards provide the ‘crunch’ moments, so it’s extremely disappointing when performances are not up to scratch at this time. With that in mind, here are FIVE of the worst showings from the last eight onwards…

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Zinedine Zidane vs. Italy – World Cup Final 2006

Idane 2006

Despite being the ripe old age of 33, Zidane ran the show at the 2006 World Cup. The magical Frenchman was the Les Bleus’ captain and the creative spark behind the team’s run to the final in Berlin, where he even got on the score sheet early with a typically cool penalty-kick.

However, the incident that now, disappointingly, characterises the midfielder’s career occurred in extra time, when in a moment of sheer madness he head-butted Marco Materazzi’s chest. A red card followed. One of the most iconic World Cup pictures then emerged as Zidane trudged past the trophy with his head lowered on his way to the dressing room. This was his last act as a professional football – he retired shortly after.

Italy went on to win on penalty-kicks.
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Brazil vs. Germany – World Cup semi-final 2014

Luiz tears

Brazil are synonymous with the beautiful game. The yellow shirts of the Selecao are associated with free-flowing, attacking and dangerous football, and with the World Cup being played in their own back yard in 2014, many expected the most successful nation in the competition’s history to add another star above their badge.

Alas, A ruthless German side, who went on to win the tournament, took them apart in Belo Horizonte. 5-0 down within 30 minutes, Brazil were thoroughly embarrassed in their own back yard and only got one effort on the scoresheet in the 90th minutes, by which time Germany had effectively wandered back to the dressing room!

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Asamoah Gyan vs. Uruguay – World Cup quarter-final 2010

Gyan

It may be a bit unfair on Asamoah Gyan, but the Ghanaian had the hopes of an entire continent on his shoulders back in 2010. The pantomime villain that is Luis Suarez handballed on the line to keep out a goalbound header with just moments of extra-time remaining. Penalty. Gyan stepped up, he’d already netted two spot-kicks in the tournament prior to kick-off, but his effort skimmed the crossbar and flew over. Suarez celebrated on the sidelines, Gutting.

Ghana then went on to lose the shoot-out, and their chance to become the first African side to ever reach the last four of a World Cup.

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David Seaman vs, Brazil – World Cup quarter-final 2002

Football - 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan(tm) - Quarter Final - England v Brazil - Shizuoka Ecopa Stadium - Fukuroi City - Japan - 21/6/02 A dejected David Seaman of England after Ronaldinho scores the second goal for Brazil Mandatory Credit:Action Images / Darren Walsh Digital

If your confident enough to sport a pony tail on a football pitch, you better have the skills to back it up. However, Seaman was caught out in horrendous fashion by a young Ronaldinho in 2002. A fairly innocuous free-kick following a Paul Scholes foul was awarded 45 yards from goal. It looked like the midfielder would just whip a ball not the area. Seaman thought that, too, and as he came to claim it, the flight and pace caught him off guard. The ball sailed into the top corner. England went out.

Did Ronaldinho mean it? Who knows?

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Roberto Baggio vs. Brazil – World Cup Final 1994

Baggio

Roberto Baggio was the shining light of a somewhat bizarre World Cup in 1994. The United States were attempting get their heads around ‘soccer’, Diana Ross missed a penalty in the opening ceremony and TV companies pushed for the game to be split into quarters… Madness.

Alas, Baggio kept his form ticking over on the pitch, right up to the final. The fifth and final kick of a shootout needed to find the net to keep Italy in it against Brazil in the final, but the classy attacker choked.

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