The Best Goalless Games in World Cups

Several goalless games at the world cups are worth remembering because of the goalkeepers’ impressive performances between the sticks.

Goalless games have often been regarded as dull and not worth watching simply because of the absence of the goals. It is true that goals are what the fans are looking forward to in each match. However, when both goalies steal the spotlights with numerous saves, blocks, and anticipations that lead to a stalemate, that deserves recognition as well. Perhaps only the Italians can do so as they see 0-0 as the perfect result. 

There have undoubtedly been many games in the history of the FIFA World Cup that ended in a goalless draw since it is one of the common results. Nevertheless, some stood out as it turned out to be the contest of two goalies making saves rather than the forwards’ misfiring. Here are the six best goalless games with the shot-stopper being the stars. 

The Memorable Goalless Games in World Cup History

Spain vs Paraguay (1998)

It was a decisive game for both teams as they failed to win at the opener. The game was even with a number of shots on target from both sides. Yet, instead of scoring goals, Spain and Paraguay were left frustrated by the outstanding saves from the Pitbull, Jose Chilavert and the veteran Andoni Zubizaretta respectively. Chilavert denied four chances while Zubizaretta did three. Paraguayan skipper’s most clinical save was when he denied Juan Pizzi’s header at the first half. Meanwhile, La Furia Roja’s goalie blocked Miguel Benitez’s long shot. 

France vs Uruguay (2002)

It was the second game of the group stage and both world cup champions needed a win after losing in the previous fixture. Les Blues was still without Zinedine Zidane who was injured after the Champions League final, whereas Uruguay was led by Inter Milan man, Alvaro Recoba. It was an exciting game as both sides traded opportunities in the final third. Fabian Barthez and Fabian Carini shared four saves each. However, it was Carini who made a crucial one as he denied Emmanuel Petit’s free kick. 

Argentina vs Brasil (1978)

It was the most anticipated match at the second group stage, with both South American giants aiming for a win to secure the spot in the final as early as possible. This classic encounter was also a stage for the contest between the host’ Ubaldo Fillol and Selecao’s Emerson Leao. The former kept out five attempts while the latter denied three shots. Both teams had to share the spoils eventually. 

Mexico vs Germany (1986)

Both teams squared off at the quarterfinal. El Tri had a great obstacle ahead as Germany had always been well-known for their improving form at the knockout stage. There were no goals but a shot-stopping contest between Pablo Larios and Harold Schumacher instead. Both denied four shots in 120 minutes before Die Mannschaft goalie thrived in the penalty shootout. He also made the crucial save as he tipped Javier Aguirre’s shot wide during the extra time. 

Brasil vs Italy (1994)

It might be one of the most notable goalless games in world cup history as it occured in the final. It is still by far the only stalemate in the summit. but was far from anticlimactic since both sides did trade chances. Instead of Romario’s or Roberto Baggio’s goals, the impressive performances of both shot-stoppers, Taffarel and Gianluca Pagliuca, took centre stage. Taffarel might have only denied four attempts, or only a half of what Pagliuca did. Yet, both made clinical saves.

The former Parma man was able to tip over Roberto Baggio’s curling shot from the six-yard box whereas the ex Inter Milan goalie blocked Bebeto’s attempt inside the penalty area. Ironically, the mistake in the shootout did not come from either of them but from Gli Azzurri’s frontman, Roberto Baggio. His shot flew wide and so did his dream to lift the trophy. 

England vs Portugal (2006)

This is the tightest goalless game so far since both shot stoppers made quite a similar number of saves, eight to seven. The Three Lions’ Paul Robinson proved that he was the best goalie England could rely on. The former Leeds man was able to level Ricardo’s stunning form in 120 minutes. Robinson’s most clinical save was when he denied Luis Figo’s curling shot, whereas Ricardo’s moment came when he blocked Frank Lampard’s thunderous free kick. The former Sporting Lisbon goalkeeper eventually shone on penalties as he denied three shots. On the other hand, England’s main figure between the sticks failed to even block one. 


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