The World Cup's Best Opening Matches

11th Jun 2018

There's something special about the opening game of a World Cup.

Fans across the globe can hardly contain their excitement about the opportunity to tuck into a feast of football and even contests that would normally be dull affairs can suddenly spark into life.

Russia vs Saudi Arabia might not look like anything to get excited about right now, but always expect the unexpected.

Strange things can happen after the opening ceremony, and here are five of the most memorable opening days in World Cup history.

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Argentina 0-1 Belgium (1986)

Having endured four consecutive opening day 0-0 draws, the world was delighted just to see a goal on day one in Barcelona.

Argentina went into the game as reigning champions but were brought down to earth with a bump by Erwin Vandenbergh's second-half strike.

The star-studded South American side contained the likes of Diego Maradona, Osvaldo Ardiles and Mario Kempes but came up short.

Argentina 0-1 Cameroon (1990)

Argentina were also the holders ahead of the opening game of Italia 1990 but, once again, found themselves on the wrong end of a shock result.

Cameroon's tactics were certainly not pretty as they finished the game with nine men thanks to some rather questionable tackles. Just ask Claudio Caniggia. He's probably still got the scars.

But the victory was celebrated all across Africa as a team assembled of journeymen shackled Maradona to prove you can definitely keep a good down man. By kicking him repeatedly.

READ MORE: The Best World Cup Runs By African Teams


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Brazil 2-1 Scotland (1998)

The Scots were left to fear the worst after César Sampaio's nodded header handed the Samba boys an early lead in Paris.

But Craig Brown's side rallied and a John Collins penalty drew the underdogs level on the stroke of half-time.

A valiant point appeared to be within reach until Tommy Boyd inadvertently directed the ball into his own net late on.

Scotland eventually went home with just one point to their name and have not made it back to the world stage since.

QUIZ: Can you name every 2018 World Cup captain?


France 0-1 Senegal (2002)

Les Bleus were riding high ahead of their first outing in Seoul. After all, they had won the World Cup on home soil four years earlier.

But the tables were turned upside down as goalscorer Pape Bouba Diop and striker El-Hadji Diouf helped the debutants upstage the holders.

Zinedine Zidane may have been missing through injury but Senegal deserved their victory and went on to reach the quarter-finals while France limped out at the group stages.

Talk about a poor title defence.


Germany 4-2 Costa Rica (2006)

On paper, a straightforward victory seemed to be on the cards for Germany. But Costa Rica did not read the script.

Philipp Lahm slammed home early on but Paulo Wanchope's close range finish drew the minnows level.

The ruthlessly efficient Miroslav Klose put the hosts firmly in control but Wanchope added a second of his own to set up a nervy finish.

Torsten Frings ended any hopes of a comeback with an absolute pile driver to set the tone for a tournament full to the brim with absolute belters.

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