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The 5 teams with most red cards in World Cup history

Rooney World Cup red card
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Let’s take a look at the dirtiest teams in the history of World Cup.

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From Rudy Voller’s iconic bust-up with Frank Rijkaard to Luis Suarez’s last-minute handball to save Uruguay, some of the most memorable moments in World Cup history have ended in red cards.

Let’s check out some of these moments while finding out which teams have received the most red cards in the tournament.

5- Netherlands (7)

Netherlands have consistently remained among Europe’s main football powerhouses since the 1970s. But they have never managed to claim the World Cup title, losing three finals to Germany, Argentina, and Spain.

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A golden generation of Dutch players won the European championship in 1988. They came into the 1990 World Cup as one of the main favourites to clinch the title.

But a 2-1 defeat against Germany in the last-16 round ended their World Cup dreams. It was in the 22nd minute of this match that Frank Rijkaard received a red card for spitting on Germany’s Rudy Voller. 

4- Germany (8)

With four World Cup trophies, Germany are only one title behind record-winners Brazil. 

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Having won their first title in 1954, Germany claimed their second trophy in 1974, thanks to their remarkable golden generation of the 70s. 

Die Mannschaft went on to claim their third title by beating Diego Maradona’s Argentina in the 1990 World Cup final. They had to wait for 24 years before lifting the trophy again, this time preventing Lionel Messi from claiming the title with the Albiceleste. 

But Germany’s football has also had its share of unsuccessful periods. An uninspiring World Cup campaign in 1998 saw the Germans crash out of the competition in the quarter-finals. 

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Christian Worns received a straight red card for his tackle on Davor Šuker. The underdogs then stunned Germany with a 3-0 win that sent them to their first World Cup semi-finals. 

3- Italy (8)

Italy have won the World Cup four times, claiming the title in 1934, 1938, 1982, and 2006.

The Azzurri have reached eight semi-finals, with two of their final appearances ending in losses. 

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Being famous for their defensive tactics, Italy are not a surprise appearance on our list. 

The Azzurri have been blessed with some of the greatest defenders in football history. But even great defenders sometimes get sent off.

That was the case with Marco Materazzi, who played a wonderful campaign during the 2006 tournament.

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Australia came close to scoring against Italy during their round-of-16 battle. Marco Bresciano had a chance to open the scoring for the Socceroos, but a strong challenge from Materazzi stopped him behind the box.

Francesco Totti then won the game for Italy by converting a last-minute penalty. The Azzurri went on to claim the title, with Materazzi having an iconic altercation with Zinedine Zidane in the final.

2- Argentina (10)

Argentina’s club football is infamous for its number of yellow and red cards. 

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The Albiceleste have received a total of ten red cards during their World Cup appearances, which is surpassed only by their South American arch-rivals. 

If there was VAR back then, we would certainly have Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ moment as Argentina’s most iconic red card.

But the football great had already received a red card before that famous game against England. During a 3-1 defeat against Brazil in the group stage of the 1982 World Cup, Maradona received a straight red card for a vicious kick into Batista’s groin. 

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Maradona missed his side’s final game of the tournament. But he went on to inspire Albiceleste to World Cup glory four years later.

It was Argentina’s second World Cup title, with the South American giants being unable to repeat their success since then.

1- Brazil (11)

The most successful team in World Cup history have received more red cards than any other team in the tournament.

A constant flow of footballing talents has always kept Brazil among the World Cup favourites, helping them claim five titles.

The Selecao’s last World Cup title came in 2002 when they beat Germany in the final. A legend-packed lineup secured Brazil’s fifth trophy, with Ronaldo Nazario stealing the show as the tournament’s best player.

Brazil defeated England 2-1 in the quarter-finals, but the hero of that game wasn’t Ronaldo. Barcelona legend Ronaldinho did everything in that match.

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He first provided an assist for Rivaldo’s equalizer in the 46th minute. An insane free-kick came next as Ronaldinho put the Selecao ahead ten minutes into the second half.

Only five minutes later, the Brazil legend received a straight red card for his challenge on Danny Mills. Ronaldinho missed Brazil’s semi-final win over Turkey but played against Germany in the final.