Which country holds the record for appearances in the FIFA World Cup Final without winning?
The FIFA World Cup was established in 1930 and, in the 21 tournaments staged so far, a total of five countries have appeared in the final without winning. Sweden and Croatia have made just one appearance apiece, but Sweden, as hosts, were beaten 5-2 by Brazil at the Rasunda Stadium in Solna in 1958, while Croatia were beaten 4-2 by France at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow in 2018.
Similarly, two countries have experienced double heartbreak in the World Cup final, losing on both appearances. Hungary had the dubious distinction of scoring twice in normal time on both occasions, but lost 4-2 to defending champions Italy at the Stade Olympique de Colombes in Paris in 1938 and 3-2 to West Germany at the Wanksdorf Stadium in Bern in 1954. Long before the country split to become the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, Czechoslovakia experienced a comparable fate, losing out 2-1, after extra time, against hosts Italy at Stadio Nazionale del PNF in Rome in 1934 and 3-1 to defending champions Brazil at Estadio Nacional in Santiago in 1962.
Arguably the unluckiest country in the history of the World Cup, though, is the Netherlands, who have made three appearances in the final and finished runner-up on all three occasions. In 1974, the Netherlands, captained by Johann Cruyff, faced hosts West Germany and took the lead after just two minutes, courtesy of a Johan Neeskens penalty. However, they conceded twice later in the first half and eventually lost 2-1. In 1978, a late equaliser from Dutch forward Dick Nanninga took the match against Argentina at the Estadio Monumental into extra time, but the hosts scored twice in the first period to make the final score 3-1. Oranje, as the team is known colloquially, made it third time unlucky with a 1-0 defeat, again after extra time, against Spain at Soccer City, Johannesburg in 2010.