Moments that define the World Cup
The World Cup in Russia is fast-approaching, promising some great matches and controversy.
The Associated Press has been covering the World Cup since it first started in Uruguay in 1930. Here's a look at some of the tournament's more memorable moments.
THEN AND NOW: See how World Cup host Russia looked in Soviet times and how it has changed
They are images from what now seems like a different world, black and white glimpses into what was then the USSR.
In 1980, the Cold War was in full flow. The Soviet Union and NATO-allied countries led by the United States had vast nuclear arsenals, enough to destroy the world several times over, targeting each other.
Getting what you wish for doesn't always work out well.
Brazil had partly wanted to host the 2014 World Cup to exorcise the ghosts of the past — specifically, its traumatic 1-0 loss to Uruguay in the final match of the 1950 tournament at home in Rio de Janeiro.
Italy has a reputation of being a slow-starter at the World Cup, not least because of its exploits at the 1982 tournament in Spain.
The team barely advanced after drawing its three group games against Poland, Cameroon and Peru, scoring only twice. With an unbalanced 24-team format at that World Cup, third place was enough for some to make it through to the second group stage.
In 1990, months after the Berlin Wall came crashing down, West Germany won its third World Cup and Franz Beckenbauer became the first person to win as captain and coach.
Beckenbauer, who many credit with revolutionizing the role of the defender into a more offensive and elegant position, had been part of the World Cup fabric as far back as 1966 when, at the tender age of 20, he played a pivotal role in West Germany's advancement to the World Cup final.
WORLD CUP: Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal in 1986
Diego Maradona scored one of the most underhanded goals in World Cup history in 1986. It's known as the "Hand of God."
Argentina wasn't a one-man team at the tournament in Mexico, but Maradona made it look like it was. That was especially true in the quarterfinals against England, when he scored one of the game's greatest goals as well as one of the most controversial.
The path to glory can be a painful one. Ronaldo, one of Brazil's greatest strikers, can attest to that.
The big question at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan centered on Ronaldo and whether he could exorcise the ghosts of four years earlier.
For many, the 1982 semifinal match between France and West Germany is the greatest World Cup game of them all.
It had everything — goals, high drama, arguably the worst foul in the tournament's history and, for the first time at the World Cup, a penalty shootout.
Alf Ramsey's prediction that "England will win the World Cup" at home was bold. After all, the home of football had done very little since returning to the FIFA fold in 1950.
There has never been a final act in soccer quite like Zinedine Zidane's headbutt.
The France great had been coaxed out of international retirement by coach Raymond Domenech to help his country's flagging campaign to make it to the 2006 tournament in Germany.
He did exactly that.
Few observers, though, gave the team a chance in the actual competition, especially after a labored group stage. But Les Bleus rediscovered the form that made it the world's best at the turn of the millennium.
It took a 17-year-old phenom to finally turn things around for Brazil.
Present at each World Cup since its start in 1930, Brazil had always fallen short — most notably in 1950 when the host country lost the final match to Uruguay.
The trauma of losing that game in front of a crowd some have estimated at more than 200,000 in the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro was so overwhelming that Brazil decided to ditch its white shirts in favor of what has become the iconic yellow shirt.
One of the great appeals of the World Cup is to see the mighty occasionally vanquished, to remind everyone involved that nothing should ever be taken for granted.
Perhaps the first — and most seismic — shock in World Cup history took place in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 1950 when an England team that was expected to contend for the title was beaten by the United States, a hastily assembled group of part-time players. It has become known as the "Miracle on Grass."
Controversy and confetti. The 1978 World Cup in Argentina was awash with both.
Twelve years after being awarded the right to host the World Cup, Argentina was a very different country. It had been under the control of a military junta since 1976, after a coup overthrew the government of Isabel Peron. Its ruthless treatment of political opponents — tens of thousands would eventually disappear — cast a shadow over the tournament.
"Good evening. The game you are about to see is the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game."
Those were the words of BBC commentator David Coleman as he introduced the British broadcaster's coverage of a group match between host Chile and Italy at the 1962 World Cup.
Spain's reputation as the great underachiever in world football was a characteristic it desperately wanted to ditch.
Adopting quick-passing tiki-taka tactics, Spain won the 2008 European Championship. That went a long way to ridding the team of its unwanted tag, but the country really came through two years later at the World Cup in South Africa.
Sudden death is used in an array of sports to determine the outcome of a match when the score is tied.
Soccer decided to embrace the concept in the mid-1990s, and FIFA sanctioned its use in the World Cup for the first time in France in 1998.
The hope was that the "golden goal" — the linguistically more positive term used in soccer — would promote attacking play and reduce the likelihood of a penalty shootout, which many in the game considered to be an unfair way of deciding matches.
Barring its sole triumph at home in 1966, England hadn't done much at the World Cup. And by 1990, the national game was in deep trouble.
Hooliganism, falling attendances and ramshackle stadiums had brought English soccer to new lows.
FIFA had been warned in 1978 that final group games should be played at the same time to ensure fairness.
Four years later in Spain, one of the most controversial World Cup matches took place when West Germany played Austria in the "Disgrace of Gijon." Similar to earlier circumstances when Argentina routed Peru 6-0 to make it to the World Cup final, both teams took the field of play knowing the stakes.
So close yet so far.
That pretty much explains the World Cup experience for the Netherlands, a three-time losing finalist.
The first time they made it to the final was in 1974 in West Germany, the team's first involvement in the World Cup since World War II.
Days after returning home from the 1994 World Cup in the United States, Colombia defender Andres Escobar was shot dead in his hometown of Medellin .
The murder ranks as one of the most shocking moments in World Cup history and cast a shadow over the rest of the tournament.
Never, ever, underestimate the Germans on the soccer field.
That's a globally accepted truth, one that has its roots in the 1954 World Cup final in Switzerland.
Going into that tournament, Hungary was the overwhelming favorite. After all, Hungary was the Olympic champion, unbeaten in four years, and had arguably the best player in the world in Ferenc Puskas.
Despite playing a central role in the establishment of the World Cup, France had always fallen short at the tournament. That changed on one glorious night in Paris in 1998.
After a strong start to the tournament it was hosting for the second time, France struggled in the knockout stages. It only managed to make the final after defender Lilian Thuram scored the only two goals of his 142-match international career to give France a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Croatia.
Technology will play a bigger role than ever before at this year's World Cup, and it's largely thanks to Frank Lampard's goal that wasn't.
FIFA, which sanctioned goal-line technology at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, has gone a step further this year. In Russia, Video Assistant Referees will review potential game-changing incidents at each of the 64 matches.
The 1970 World Cup in Mexico is considered by many to be the best ever and is packed full of memorable moments, from England captain Bobby Moore's precision tackle on Pele to Italy's see-saw victory over West Germany in the semifinals.
But nothing quite matches the beauty of Brazil's final goal in the final.
In one of the biggest geopolitical clashes at a World Cup, the United States played Iran in a group match at the 1998 tournament in France.
Relations between the two countries had been hostile since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, which ousted the pro-American Shah and eventually led to a drawn-out hostage crisis that severely blighted President Jimmy Carter's re-election bid the following year.
After taking power in Italy in the 1920s, fascist leader Benito Mussolini embraced sports as a political tool.
That was evident at both the 1934 and 1938 World Cups — both won by Italy.
At the latter tournament, Italy sought to retain its title in France at a time when Europe was on the cusp of war. Spain was not there because of its civil war, while Austria, which had qualified, had to give up its berth in the tournament after being swallowed up by Nazi Germany.
The image of Luis Suarez sitting on the ground holding his teeth remains one of the most abiding moments of the World Cup in Brazil.
Fresh from scoring two goals to help his team beat England 2-1 in a group match Uruguay needed to win, Suarez was expected to play a prominent role against Italy to spearhead his team's advancement to the round of 16.
He did play a leading role — only not in the way most had anticipated.
The 21st World Cup gets underway next month in Moscow and billions around the world are expected to tune in during the monthlong tournament — a far cry from its low-key start in 1930 in Uruguay.
Back then, many European countries, including Germany and Italy, opted against making the multi-week boat trip to Montevideo, while England and the other three British associations had withdrawn from FIFA following a dispute over payments. In the end, only four teams from Europe made the trip.