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The top 3 World Cup opening matches for the host nation

Football 13 June 2018

The World Cup is nearly upon us and in the build-up to Russia v Saudi Arabia we have listed our top 5 host nation opening matches.

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Before we start, it's best we point out that this is for the host's opening match. It's only recently that the host plays in the tournament's opening match, so some of the games we have selected were not the first match of the World Cup.

All the host's opening World Cup matches throughout history
World CupOppositionScore
2014 BrazilCroatia3-1
2010 South AfricaMexico1-1
2006 GermanyCosta Rica4-2
2002 Japan & South koreaBelgium & Poland2-2 & 2-0
1998 FranceSouth Africa3-0
1994 USASwitzerland1-1
1990 ItalyAustria1-0
1986 MexicoBelgium2-1
1982 SpainHonduras1-1
1978 ArgentinaHungary2-1
1974 West GermanyChile1-0
1970 MexicoSoviet Union0-0
1966 EnglandUruguay0-0
1962 ChileSwitzerland3-1
1958 SwedenMexico3-0
1954 SwitzerlandItaly2-1
1950 BrazilMexico4-0
1938 FranceBelgium3-1
1934 ItalyUSA7-1
1930 UruguayPeru1-0

So, you can see that not once did the host nation lose their opening match.

1. 2002: South Korea 2-0 Poland

Few expected South Korea to come third in the 2002 World Cup. But Guus Hiddink steered the nation, who hosted the tournament with Japan, to the semi-finals. The opening match against Poland showed us all that this was a team to be reckoned with.

2. 1978 Argentina 2-1 Hungary

The hosts faced a strong Hungary team in the opening game but the Argentines were one of the favourites for the tournament and the pressure was on. It was a disastrous start for the Argentines with Karoly Csapo opening the scoring after nine minutes for the Hungarians after the keeper parried the ball into his path. But five minutes later Leopoldo Luque prodded home for the hosts after a goal-mouth scramble.

It looked set to be a draw until the eighty-third minute when Daniel Bertoni applied a scrappy finish to a delightful attacking move by the Argentines. Cue mad celebrations.

3. 1950 Brazil 4-0 Mexico

The first World Cup after the World War and Brazil were eager to demonstrate the economic wealth they had accumulated whilst much of the rest of the world had been ravaged by war. They newly built Maracana Stadium was meant to showcase their ability to host the tournament to the world. Their opening game against Mexico was everything they could have wished for. 

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