World Cup icons: Cruyff vs Beckenbauer – how great rivals became great friends (1974)

Cruyff, Beckenbauer 1974

Of all the scenarios that could unfold in Russia this summer, among the less likely is Argentina and Portugal meeting in the final. Not just because neither side are among the hot favourites, but also because it would mean Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – the two best players of their generation – facing off for the game’s biggest trophy. And that almost never happens.

You could perhaps argue it did in 1998, when Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo went toe-to-toe in the Stade de France showpiece, though the Frenchman blossomed into true world class only in the wake of that match. So you’d say the exception that proves the rule was the 1974 final – when the Kaiser met the King.

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