In professional sports, there are sometimes particular players or teams that are super successful. Regardless of the era, they still manage to find a way to keep on winning. It requires more than just talent to be a serial winner, many of the world’s top sports stars are incredibly driven and surround themselves with motivational people. Some international soccer teams always seem to find a way to win, no matter what the circumstances are.
The World Cup is the pinnacle of international soccer, and finding a way to win regularly on this stage requires an iron will to win combined with extraordinary talent. The teams that have won the most matches at World Cup competitions are the ones who can mix having the best players with playing with the right attitude. Some talented teams will get to the big stage and completely choke, letting their nerves get the better of them. Other teams will thrive on the challenge of matching up against the best in the world, determined to prove they are the greatest. We have looked through the history books and are bringing you the 20 countries with the most wins at the World Cup. Think you can name them all?
Chile – 11 victories
Chile played in the very first World Cup, held back in 1930 but could not get out of the group stage of that tournament. The best they have ever done at a World Cup was the third place they came in when they hosted it in 1962. After 1962, it took them until 2010 to win another game at a World Cup, when they managed to get to the round of 16 before losing to South American rivals Brazil. Chile have recorded a total of 11 victories in the nine World Cup tournaments they have qualified for. Their last World Cup appearance was in 2014, losing once again to Brazil.
Austria – 12 victories
Despite qualifying for fewer tournaments than Chile, Austria have managed to win more games. Austria have won 12 World Cup games in seven tournament appearances. Their success mostly came in the early years of the competition, managing to come fourth place in 1934. They followed this fourth place with third in 1954, which was the next time they appeared at the major tournament. The last time Austria qualified for the World Cup was in 1998, where they crashed out in the group stage after failing to win a game. The last game they won at a World Cup came in 1990, beating the United States 2-1 in Italy.
Czech Republic – 12 victories
The Czech Republic have only been competing since 1998, before then they were Czechoslovakia. Combined, the country has won 12 times at World Cups, managing to get to the final twice as Czechoslovakia, in 1934 and 1962. Unfortunately, they never managed to lift the trophy and have struggled to make an impact in recent years. The Czech Republic last appeared at a World Cup in 2006, and they managed to win one of their matches, coming against the United States, but that wasn’t enough to get them beyond the group stage.
Portugal – 13 victories
Portugal are one of those teams that always have talented players but never seem to translate that into winning. They have never won it but did manage to come in third in their first ever tournament in 1966, winning five of their six games that year. In their last World Cup they were disappointing for fans, winning against Ghana, but not getting through the group. They are the reigning European Championship holders and will hope they can repeat that success in Russia this year.
Belgium – 14 victories
Belgium have to look back to the ‘80s to find their best World Cup performance, they finished fourth at the 1986 tournament in Mexico. Belgium have qualified for 13 World Cups over the years, and are one of the favorites heading into the 2018 tournament. In 2014, they got to the quarter-finals but were beaten by the eventual finalists, Argentina, 1-0. Their last World Cup victory came against the United States in 2014’s tournament, winning 2-1 after extra time.
Mexico – 14 victories
Mexico have managed to qualify for 15 of the 20 World Cup tournaments they were eligible for. They appeared in the very first tournament in 1930, and their best run was to the quarter-finals in 1970 and again in 1986. They have made it to the last seven World Cups but have failed to get past the round of 16 each time. Their last World Cup victory came against Croatia in 2014, and Mexico will hope this year they can get further than the round of 16 for the first time in 32 years.
Hungary – 15 victories
Hungary are another team whose success at the World Cup came mostly in their early years, having since fallen into soccer obscurity. Hungary were runners-up in 1938 and 1954 but have not made it to a World Cup since 1986. Despite not appearing at a World Cup for over 30 years, they have recorded a significant number of victories in the tournament with 15. They will hope they can break their failure to qualify streak when the World Cup comes to Qatar in 2022.
Poland – 15 victories
Poland’s golden generation of players were playing in the ‘70 and ‘80s, but that was not enough to win a World Cup. Poland came in third place in 1974 and once again in 1982, but that was as close to lifting the trophy as they ever got. They have recorded 15 victories since their first World Cup in 1938, and are going to appear in their first tournament this year since 2006. Poland’s last win in a World Cup was a 2-1 defeat of Costa Rica.
Sweden – 16 victories
Sweden did very well during the early World Cup tournaments, managing a fourth, third and second place finish between 1938 and 1958. They once again finished third in the 1994 World Cup, showing that when they qualify they are challenging to play – their problem has been failing to qualify often. They are in Russia this year, but before that, Sweden hadn’t qualified since the 2006 World Cup. A 1-0 victory over Paraguay in 2006 was their last win at a World Cup.
Serbia – 17 victories
Serbia competed as Yugoslavia until 2006 when they identified as Serbia and Montenegro, before changing again to just Serbia. Collectively they have appeared at 12 World Cup tournaments winning a total of 17 games. They fared best as Yugoslavia, coming fourth in 1930 and 1962. Their most recent World Cup appearance was in 2010, where they managed to score a 1-0 victory over Germany. Serbia qualified for Russia 2018 and will hope they can add to their number of wins by beating one of Switzerland, Brazil, or Costa Rica.
Russia – 17 victories
Russia, or the Soviet Union as it was formerly known as, have enjoyed great athletic success throughout history, particularly at the Olympic Games. While they may be a great sporting nation, they have not yet managed to win the World Cup. They have won 17 matches at World Cup tournaments and will hope as hosts of this year’s competition they can add to that figure. Their last World Cup victory was a 2-0 win over Tunisia at the 2002 World Cup.
Uruguay – 20 victories
Uruguay was the first nation ever to win the World Cup, lifting the trophy in 1930 and once again in 1950, when they entered their second tournament. They are a formidable opponent and have won on 20 different occasions at a World Cup tournament. In 2014 they went out in the round of 16 to Colombia, but they beat four times winners Italy in 2014, which is their last World Cup win to date. Uruguay will hope they can get once again lift the trophy in Russia this year.
England – 26 victories
England managed to win the World Cup when they hosted the tournament in 1966, something Russia will hope to emulate this year. Besides winning it, their best finish was a fourth place in 1990. England have qualified for the tournament 15 times, and have not failed to reach it since 1994. They were unable to win a game at the 2014 World Cup so have to look back to their 2010 1-0 victory over Slovenia as their last win at the tournament.
Netherlands – 27 victories
The Netherlands are arguably the best team to never win the tournament. Their golden age of soccer players was in the ‘70s, and twice they finished as runners-up during that decade, before other runners-up medal at the 2010 World Cup. Despite coming third at the 2014 World Cup, they have failed to qualify this year and will have to wait until 2022 to try to add to their win tally. The Netherland’s last World Cup win came against Brazil in 2014, claiming third spot with a score of 3-0.
France – 28 victories
Typically France are a strong team at international soccer tournaments. Despite a couple of third places and a fourth place, it took them until they hosted the tournament in 1998 to win it. They once again reached the final in 2006 but failed to secure victory, losing to Italy on penalties. France have amassed a total of 28 World Cup victories, with their last being a 2-0 scoreline in the round of 16 against Nigeria at the 2014 tournament.
Spain – 29 victories
Spain were running the Netherlands close for who was the best team never to win a World Cup, but their triumph in 2010 took them out of the running. Appearing in 15 tournaments, Spain have mostly managed to get to the knockout stage of the competition, meaning they have had to win many games to get there. They would expect to add more victories in the upcoming tournament after being unimpressive when defending their title in 2014. Spain only managed to win once in 2014, 3-0 against Australia.
Argentina – 42 victories
Argentina have played in five finals, managing to win the World Cup twice. They have appeared in 16 tournaments and have not failed to qualify since 1970. They often find a way to win, usually through their gifted attacking players, and have won a total of 42 times in World Cup tournaments. They reached the final last time around and have every chance of getting there and going one better this time around. They beat the Netherlands on penalties in the 2014 semi-final, which is their last World Cup victory.
Italy – 45 victories
Italy have managed to win the tournament four times, which means they have had to win a lot of games at World Cups over the years. Up until 2006 they were often at the latter stages of the competition and have been to the semi-finals eight times. They have won 45 games in 18 World Cup tournaments. Italy didn’t qualify for Russia and haven’t gotten past the group stage at the last two World Cups. Italy beat England 2-1 in 2014, which was their only win of that tournament.
Germany – 66 victories
Nobody wants to play Germany at the World Cup. They are just so strong in this competition and have appeared in 13 semi-finals in 19 World Cups. They have made it to the final eight times, winning it four times. They are the current champions, so their last victory came in the World Cup final, beating Argentina 1-0 in extra time in 2014. They are always expected to do well and always cope effectively with the pressure of success.
Brazil – 70 victories
This will not be a shock to soccer fans, but Brazil are at the top of the pile. They are the only team to have qualified for all 21 World Cup tournaments, and they have also won it more times than any other nation – a total of five times. If they make it to a final, they are likely to win as they have won five of the seven World Cup finals they have played in. Their last victory came in 2014 when they beat Colombia 2-1 in the quarter-final.