Capsules on each of the previous 18 World Cup tournaments:
Uruguay was chosen as the host of the first World Cup largely because of its status as Olympic champion.
The decision was not overly popular, however, because of the long travel for European teams.
There was no qualifying tournament then, so teams were invited to play. Only four European teams accepted _ France, Romania, Belgium and Yugoslavia. The rest of the field came from North and South America.
Uruguay faced Argentina in the final at Centenario stadium and trailed 2-1 at halftime. But three second-half goals lifted the hosts to the title with a 4-2 win.
July 31, the date of the final, was made a national holiday in Uruguay.
The field for the second World Cup in Italy was much bigger than the first, so a qualifying tournament was needed for the 32 teams that wanted to play.
Even the hosts had to qualify for the final tournament, which consisted of 16 teams.
Some South American countries, like Brazil and Argentina, decided to retaliate for Europe's small contingent at the first World Cup by sending second-team players. Defending champion Uruguay declined to play.
With a shortage of South American stars, the eight quarterfinalists were unsurprisingly all European.
Giuseppe Meazza was the driving force for Italy, scoring the only goal against Spain in a quarterfinal replay _ one day after the two teams played to a 1-1 draw.
Two days later, Meazza and Italy were back on the field and beat Austria 1-0 to reach the final, where it faced Czechoslovakia.
Meazza set up Angelo Schiavio for the winning goal in extra time in the final, giving Italy its first of three World Cup titles with a 2-1 win.
War was looming in Europe when France staged the third World Cup, and some countries stayed away from the tournament, including Austria, Spain, Argentina and Uruguay.
The result was nearly the same, however. Italy won, beating Hungary 4-2 in the final.
But Brazil's first-round match against Poland proved to be one of the most exciting in World Cup history. The Brazilians won 6-5 in extra time, with Leonidas scoring twice in the extra period.
In the quarterfinals, Brazil was again playing in what turned out to be a memorable game. This time the opponent was Czechoslovakia, and the result was a brawl that saw three players sent off and five injured. Two of the injured players were taken to the hospital with broken limbs.
The game ended 1-1, and Brazil won the replay 2-1 two days later. Leonidas scored in both games, but was rested for the semifinal match against Italy _ considered by many to be the worst coaching decision in the history of the World Cup.
Italy beat the Brazilians 2-1, with 1934 star Giuseppe Meazza scoring what turned out to be the winning goal from the penalty spot in the 60th minute.
Because of World War II, Italy's second straight win in the final would be the last World Cup match for 12 years.
The only World Cup without a final was played in Brazil after the end of World War II.
Instead of a single game to decide the champion, the top four teams from the first round played in a final group to determine the winner.
As it happened, Uruguay faced Brazil in the final game at the Maracana stadium, with the hosts needing only a draw to win the title in front of almost 200,000 fans. Instead, the Uruguayans won their second World Cup by coming from behind to win 2-1.
Sweden and Spain also reached the final group.
Earlier in the tournament, England was upset by the United States 1-0. The English were playing in the World Cup for the first time, four years after returning to FIFA.
Only 13 teams played in the final tournament, and India withdrew because FIFA would not let the team play in bare feet.
The trophy, now known as the Jules Rimet Cup after the FIFA president, survived World War II by being hidden in a shoe box under FIFA vice president Ottorino Barassi's bed.
The World Cup returned to Europe in 1954, and high-scoring Hungary looked to be the team to beat.
In the first round, the Hungarians, unbeaten in 28 games and led by Ferenc Puskas, beat West Germany 8-3. The same two teams reached the final, and Hungary took a 2-0 lead before losing 3-2 at the Wankdorf stadium in Bern in another surprising final outcome.
Besides humiliating the understrength West Germans, the "Magical Magyars" also routed South Korea 9-0.
In the quarterfinals, Hungary beat Brazil 4-2 in a match that ended in a brawl.
With South Korea in the field, the tournament took on a more global form. Japan and Egypt, which competed at the 1934 tournament, also took part in the preliminary competition.
In 26 matches, a total of 140 goals were scored _ an average of 5.38 goals per game.
The 1958 final produced the biggest star the sport has ever seen, and he was only 17.
Pele led Brazil to its first World Cup title over host Sweden in the final, scoring two goals in the 5-2 win. He also scored a goal against Wales, and three against France in the semifinals _ making him the youngest scorer in World Cup history.
But it was Just Fontaine who set a standard yet to be matched. The Frenchman scored 13 goals in the tournament, and he is still second on the all-time list behind Gerd Mueller, who scored a total 14 goals for West Germany in 1970 and 1974.
Fifty-five countries took part in qualifying for the 16 spots in the final tournament, but Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Uruguay and Italy all failed to qualify.
The Soviet Union, led by goalkeeper Lev Yashin, made the tournament for the first time. The Soviet team had won the Olympic title two years earlier, and would go on to win the European Championship two years later.
Brazil won its second straight title in 1962, even without Pele playing for most of the tournament.
The Brazil striker played in the first match and then got injured in the second. The team still made it to the final, where it beat Czechoslovakia 3-1.
The tournament also featured another memorable game. When host Chile faced Italy in the first round, two Italians were sent off and one had his nose broken. Chile won the match, dubbed "The Battle of Santiago," 2-0 and went on to the semifinals.
Two other games, Soviet Union vs. Yugoslavia and West Germany vs. Switzerland, were also marred by rough play.
The 1966 final was historic, and not only because England won its first and only World Cup title.
England forward Geoff Hurst scored the first and only hat trick in a World Cup final, including two in extra time, to lead his team to a 4-2 victory over West Germany. One of the goals is probably the most controversial in World Cup history.
With the score level at 2-2 in extra time, Hurst sent a hard shot off the bottom of the crossbar. The ball then came straight down, and the linesman awarded the goal.
Pele was again injured early in the tournament, but this time his Brazil teammates didn't have enough to get through the first round.
North Korea, however, certainly did, becoming the first Asian team to reach the quarterfinals.
Before the tournament started, the World Cup trophy was stolen, and then found three days later in south London by a dog named Pickles.
Pele was able to stay healthy for the 1970 World Cup, and Brazil went on to win their third title in four tournaments.
Jairzinho scored in every match as Brazil beat Italy 4-1 in the final. The South Americans were then given the Jules Rimet trophy to keep for having won the title three times.
But besides another Brazilian win, the tournament in Mexico is remembered for the introduction of yellow and red cards, and the fact that no one was sent off.
It was semifinal match between Italy and West Germany that is remembered as one of the game's greatest. Italy won 4-3 in extra time, but five of those goals were scored after the regular 90 minutes had expired, and West Germany defender Franz Beckenbauer played with his arm in sling after dislocating his shoulder.
Israel and Morocco made their World Cup debuts in Mexico, while Portugal, Hungary, France, Spain and Argentina failed to qualify.
West Germany 1974
"Total football" arrived on the world stage at the 1974 World Cup in West Germany, but it was the hosts that won the trophy _ a gold statuette made after Brazil was allowed to keep the old trophy.
The Netherlands, with Johan Cruyff leading the way, reached the final and took the lead shortly after the opening whistle when Cruyff was brought down in the area. Johann Neeskens converted, and it seemed the Dutch style of roving soccer would give the team its first World Cup title.
But the West Germans came back to win 2-1 with Gerd Mueller scoring the deciding goal _ the 14th of his World Cup career.
Before the hosts got that far, however, they lost to East Germany 1-0 in the first round. The problem with that win, however, was that it put the East Germans into a more difficult second-round group, which included the Netherlands, Brazil and Argentina.
The West Germans finished second in their first-round group, and were sent to play Poland, Sweden and Yugoslavia in the second phase.
The Netherlands again reached the final at the 1978 World Cup. Unfortunately, the team again faced the host and lost.
It was Argentina that lifted the trophy, beating the Dutch 3-1 in extra time in the final.
The Argentines nearly missed out on the chance, however. Both Brazil and Argentina won their first games in the second-round group, and then drew 0-0 against each other.
Brazil edged Poland 3-1 to improve to five points in the group with a plus-five goal difference. That meant Argentina, which had previously beaten Poland 2-0, needed to beat Peru by four goals to advance.
The hosts got through with two goals to spare after a 6-0 rout.
England missed the tournament for the second straight time, but France was back after a 12-year absence.
The French, led by Michel Platini, failed to make the second round after losses to Argentina and Italy.
Paolo Rossi was the star of the 1982 World Cup in Spain, scoring a hat trick against Brazil and another goal in Italy's 3-1 win over West Germany in the final.
It was Italy's third World Cup victory, but first since winning its second straight title in 1938.
The Germans reached the final after a thrilling semifinal win over France. West Germany took the lead early in the match, but Michel Platini equalized with a penalty, sending the game into extra time.
The French then added two goals in the first 10 minutes of the extra period, but the Germans scored two more to send it penalties, where they won 5-4.
The 1982 tournament was also the first to have 24 teams. Under the new rules, 13 teams qualified from Europe, three from South America, two from Africa, two from Asia-Oceania, and two from CONCACAF.
Mexico became the first country to host the World Cup twice in 1986 when it was selected as a replacement for Colombia, which pulled out because it could not afford to stage the competition.
Diego Maradona became the new soccer idol at the tournament, scoring one of the greatest goals in the competition's history while also punching in another in a 2-1 win over England in the quarterfinals.
Maradona gave his team a 1-0 lead when he jumped for the ball with England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, but instead of getting his head to the ball the diminutive Argentine punched it into the net, calling it the "Hand of God."
Minutes after that goal, Maradona beat four England players and sent a powerful shot past Shilton to make it 2-0. Gary Lineker pulled one back, but Argentina advanced to face Belgium, where Maradona scored another two goals in a 2-0 semifinal win.
Maradona was shut out in the final, but two late West German goals to even the match at 2-2 were usurped by Jorge Burruchaga's winner in the 85th minute.
West Germany had beaten France 2-0 in the semifinals to reach the final for the second straight tournament.
This World Cup scrapped the second group phase and instead made a knockout round to follow the group stage. Morocco became the first African nation to qualify for the second round.
The 1990 World Cup final gave fans a rematch of the last tournament, but with a different winner.
West Germany claimed its third World Cup title by beating defending champion Argentina 1-0 in the final. And the only goal came from the penalty spot when Andreas Brehme converted with minutes to go.
Argentina, still with Diego Maradona leading the way, became the first team to fail to score a goal in the final, and also the first to have someone sent off.
Salvatore Schillaci, known as "Toto," carried Italy to the semifinals by leading the tournament with six goals. The hosts, however, failed to get past Argentina, which won on penalties. West Germany beat England on penalties in the other semifinal, making it 3-0 in penalty shootouts at the World Cup.
Cameroon also made its mark on the tournament, becoming the first African team to reach the quarterfinals while also upsetting Argentina in the opening match. Roger Milla, who scored four goals in the tournament, became the oldest goalscorer in World Cup history at 38 years, 20 days.
He extended that record four years later in the United States.
United States 1994
Brazil claimed its fourth World Cup title by beating Italy on penalties in the final of the 1994 World Cup _ the first time the competition was decided on spot kicks.
Despite the 0-0 draw through extra time in the final, the tournament did produce some excitement, and some embarrassment.
Bulgaria, led by Hristo Stoitchkov, reached the semifinals along with Sweden. But Diego Maradona, playing in his third World Cup, tested positive for drugs and was expelled from the tournament.
And even the mostly unexciting final came down to a moment of suspense when Italy striker Roberto Baggio needed to score his penalty in the shootout to keep Italy alive. Instead, the world's top player shot over the bar.
England, France and Portugal all failed to qualify for the tournament, while the United States advanced from the first round for the first time since reaching the semifinals at the first World Cup in 1930. But the hosts faced Brazil and lost 1-0 on July 4, the country's Independence Day.
After the tournament, Colombia defender Andres Escobar was murdered outside a Colombian bar days after scoring an own-goal in the first round against the United States.
Backed by its home crowd and inspired by the skill of Zinedine Zidane, France won its first World Cup after years of underachievement and disappointment.
The largest World Cup ever after expanding to 32 teams ended with the seemingly inevitable final of host France against favorite and defending champion Brazil. And the greatest drama of the 64-game tournament came before the final itself.
Brazil striker Ronaldo had already scored four goals and was expected to be the greatest threat to France, which was missing suspended captain Laurent Blanc from its defense. However, the striker apparently had a seizure the night before the final and was initially omitted from the team.
Ronaldo appeared sluggish and dazed as Zidane scored a pair of headers and Emmanuel Petit got a late breakaway goal to win 3-0 and spark wild celebrations all over France, with delirious fans flooding the Champs-Elysees.
Debutant Croatia was the surprise of the tournament, beating Germany 3-0 in the quarterfinals. Croatia's run ended when Lilian Thuram scored his first and second international goals to give France a 2-1 win in the semifinals.
Also, Italy exited on penalties for the third straight tournament. Having lost in the 1990 semifinals to Argentina and the 1994 final to Brazil, the Azzurri lost in the quarterfinals to France after a 0-0 draw.
South Korea and Japan 2002
The first tournament in Asia was arguably the most shock-filled, albeit with a predictable conclusion.
Argentina and defending champion France exited in the first round, while three-time champion Italy was one of several teams surprised by South Korea on the co-host's run to the semifinals.
After all that, Brazil and Germany, the two most successful World Cup teams, met in the final and Brazil won its record fifth title on two goals by striker Ronaldo.
France entered the competition with mostly the same players that won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship. However, older and slower than before, they were beaten 1-0 in the opener by debutant Senegal and eventually exited without scoring a goal.
Argentina fared little better, with a 1-0 loss to rival England contributing to its early exit.
Senegal, Turkey, South Korea, Japan and the United States all made it through to the latter stages at the expense of more fancied teams, while _ inspired by the saves of captain and goalkeeper Oliver Kahn _ a Germany team supposed to be the country's poorest for years made it to the final on a string of three 1-0 wins.
Kahn denied Brazil until the 67th minute in the final when he parried the ball into the path of Ronaldo, who scored. The striker added another 12 minutes later.
Defender Cafu _ the only man to play in three finals _ lifted the famous trophy and kept alive Brazil's record of having won the World Cup on every continent to host the event.
Three words describe the 2006 World Cup: Zinedine Zidane's headbutt.
Even though Italy won its fourth world title by beating France on penalties in the final, the entire tournament will forever be linked to the moment Zidane lost his cool and headbutted Marco Materazzi in the chest.
The soon-to-follow red card sent Zidane off the field in the last match of his career with his head hanging low.
Italy, however, overcame the disgrace of a match-fixing scandal at home to win the tournament, just like at the 1982 World Cup. With a strong defense led by captain Fabio Cannavaro, the Italians conceded two goals in the tournament _ an own-goal against the United States and Zidane's penalty in the final.
Host Germany reached the semifinals amid a month of flag-waving support from the home fans, something rarely seen in the country since World War II, and striker Miroslav Klose led the tournament scoring with five goals.
Portugal rounded out the all-European semifinals.
Brazil only made the quarterfinals, losing to France, but Ronaldo still broke Gerd Mueller's 32-year-old World Cup scoring record by netting his 15th goal against surprise second-round opponent Ghana.
In the final, Andrea Pirlo, Materazzi, Daniele de Rossi, Alessandro Del Piero and Fabio Grosso scored in the shootout, while David Trezeguet missed for France.
Capsules on each of the previous 18 World Cup tournaments: