Most Entertaining Team
A relatively new accolade, the Most Entertaining Team Award at the FIFA World Cup was first handed out to Brazil in 1994. After easy victories over Cameroon and Russia, Brazil drew with Sweden and went on win the following match with the USA to advance to the quarter-finals. The match against Netherlands was the one that decisively got them the Most Entertaining Team Award, with a goal-less first half Brazil stepped up the heat scoring twice in the second half to which the Netherlands replied with two goals of their own. Brazil’s Branco fired in a third goal which took them to the final four. Even though the last two matches were uneventful with only one goal from Romario against Sweden in the semi-finals and Brazil winning the World via a penalty shoot-out against Italy in the final match, the Samba Kings were undoubtedly the most entertaining team at the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
The Most Entertaining Team award was scooped up by the 1998 World Cup Champions France in the same year. Thrashing South Africa and Saudi Arabia 3-0 and 4-0 respectively France got off to a flying start confirming maximum points in the group after beating Denmark. In the following rounds France continued with their brand of football, beating Paraguay 1-0 followed by a penalty shoot-out win against Italy. The semi-finals saw France conceding their second goal of the tournament yet hitting back and scoring a 2-1 win over Croatia to battle it out with title holders Brazil. France dominated the final match beating the Samba Kings 3-0 to lift the trophy and the award for Most Entertaining Team.
The 2002 FIFA World Cup saw co-hosts South Korea winning the Most Entertaining Team after coming out as one of the most surprising packages of the tournament. A 2-0 victory over Poland followed by a 1-1 draw over the USA put South Korea up against Portugal whom they defeated in one of the shock upsets of the tournaments. Drawn against eventual winners Italy, South Korea had to struggle to push the match into extra time where they scored a golden goal in another shock upset and what was to be one of the most memorable World Cup for the South Koreans. The Red Devils then went on to hold Spain to a goalless draw pushing them into a penalty shoot-out to secure a place in the final four. It was in the semi-finals that Germany ended their dream run with 1-0 win, followed by another loss to Turkey which put them in fourth position, nevertheless the Red Devils had done their share of entertaining the crowd and was rightfully awarded the Most Entertaining Team award by FIFA.
2006 saw the Most Entertaining Team award go to another fourth placed team. After underperforming in the 2002 World Cup and the subsequent European Championships, Portugal came into the 2006 World Cup and blew away the competition in the first round winning all three games and walking away with the maximum nine points. The infamous match with Netherlands followed with a record total of sixteen yellow cards shown in the game with Portugal walking away with a slender 1-0 win. The quarter-finals witnessed the match against England progress to a penalty shoot-out with Portugal reaching the semi-finals after a forty year gap. A 1-0 defeat to France saw Portugal fighting for third place. Portugal’s brilliant football did nothing to save them from an evenly matched Germany with the DFB eleven walking away with a 3-1 win. Nevertheless with FIFA naming four Portuguese players in the All-star Squad, the team walked away with the Most Entertaining Team award.