SETTING THE SCENE: Setting the scene for the greatest sporting show on earth the 2022 World Cup from Qatar.


Legends are made, and heroes are born. The FIFA World Cup, the most revered of all sporting tournaments, brings the world together in anticipation, rivalry and jubilation, making its return on Sunday afternoon for the first time since the summer of 2018.

In what has been a tumultuous four years, a lot has changed, but one thing has stayed the same. Footballing nations’ desire and yearning to accomplish the greatest achievement in sport. To bring home the World Cup.

Ahead of what will be the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup, we have dug out the record books and compiled the definitive list of the most impressive World Cup stats. From individual player prowess to the domination of one nation and the astonishing presence of the devoted fans.


 
THE STAT PACK
Kicking us off is perhaps the single most remarkable stat on the list. Summing up how important the FIFA World Cup is to the world and highlighting the sheer magnitude of the occasion, the largest attendance at a World Cup match shows just how significant the competition is in the world calendar. In 1950, the final match between Brazil and Uruguay officially welcomed an attendance of 173,850 people to the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

While it was stated that 173,850 people entered the ground on the day, it is often claimed upwards of 40,000 more people may have managed to enter the stadium illegally, pushing the actual number of fans to over 200,000. It remains the most attended football match of all time.


THE FORM BOOK
Throughout the 21 editions of the World Cup, there were always going to be some countries that fared better than others, and while Brazil have claimed five World Cup titles, no nation has made it to more World Cup finals than Germany. The European giants have progressed to eight World Cup finals, winning four of them on their journey to becoming one of the most successful footballing nations in history.


ALL TIME LEGENDS
As mentioned, the greatest stage in the footballing world has created many legends, the names of which will be remembered for as long as football is played and watched. While Pele and Diego Maradona are familiar to many, the Italian Paolo Maldini often slips under the radar due to his defensive position. His commanding presence in the heart of the Italian defence saw him feature at four World Cup tournaments. Though he failed to win the tournament, he registered more World Cup minutes on the field than any other player in the history of the competition at 2,217.

It was never going to be possible to compile this list without mentioning the magnificent Pele. The Brazilian is the only man ever to win three World Cups, but that wasn’t his most impressive accolade. At 17 years old, he was and still is the youngest player ever to score at a World Cup. Doing so in 1958, Brazil and Pele went on to win the tournament outright, with Pele also claiming the record for the youngest scorer in the final.


STAKES ARE HIGH
With the stakes at the World Cup so high and competition rife, occasionally, tempers flare, and emotions boil over. That is the least that can be said for what is now known as the Battle of Nuremberg. The round-of-16 tie at the 2006 World Cup between Portugal and Netherlands saw the referee issue 16 yellow and four red cards, the record for the most cards shown at any FIFA-administered international tournament.


ICELAND DEFROSTED
Rounding off our compilation of records and impressive stats, one country claims the most unique distinction on the list. Though they failed to escape the group stage, in 2018, Iceland set the record for the country with the smallest population to participate in the FIFA World Cup. With only 334,000 residing in the country at the time, and many of the side’s players non-professionals who worked manual jobs when not playing football, seeing Iceland at the World Cup finals was a pleasant surprise for many and a signature of the nation’s desire and determination.



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