World Cups: 1970 - 1978

2006-05-31 14:32

London - This is the third part of a brief history of the World Cup finals covering the tournaments from 1970 to 1978:

MEXICO 1970

Final: BRAZIL 4 ITALY 1

The first World Cup finals to be televised live in colour to a global audience have a special place in the sport's history. It is regarded as the best tournament of all.

Despite the high altitude at which most matches were played, and despite many noon kick-offs in the searing heat of the day to suit European TV schedules, many of the games were of the highest quality.

Brazil fielded the greatest side the world has ever seen and not one player from any of the 16 teams was sent off in the entire competition.

Champions England and favourites Brazil were drawn to play in the same opening round group and produced a classic match in Guadalajara.

Brazil won 1-0 with a goal from Jairzinho, who scored in every match his side played.

Pele was denied a certain goal when Gordon Banks made what is regarded as the best save of all time when he dived full length across his goal to turn a downward header up and over his bar.

Many expected the teams to meet again in the final as England had a better side than the one which won the World Cup in 1966. Brazil, with Pele at the peak of his powers, were simply awesome.

But England were derailed in the quarter-finals by West Germany, who gained revenge for their final defeat at Wembley.

They beat England 3-2, missing sick goalkeeper Banks, after trailing 2-0 earlier in the match.

Hosts Mexico also went out in the quarter-finals, They were beaten by Italy, who went on to meet Brazil in the final after a classic 4-3 win over West Germany in their semi.

As both Brazil and Italy had won the World Cup twice before, the winners were sure to take permanent possession of the Jules Rimet trophy.

Goals from Pele, Gerson, Jairzinho and Carlos Alberto meant the trophy returned to Rio, where it was later stolen and never recovered.

WEST GERMANY 1974

Final: WEST GERMANY 2 NETHERLANDS 1

Pele had retired, aged only 31, and Brazil's great team had broken up by the time West Germany hosted the 10th World Cup.

Unlike the heat of Mexico, most of the matches were played in cold, wet conditions, even though the organisers had used a computer to forecast the period for the best weather.

But more than the weather had changed since Mexico. Fifa had a new president, Brazilian Joao Havelange, who was to oversee massive changes in the game during his 28-year tenure.

The Jules Rimet trophy was also replaced by a new trophy.

There were new teams as well.

Netherlands, having shaken off their amateur game in the early 1960s, were back for the first time since 1938 and had developed a new pattern of tactical play under coach Rinus Michels dubbed ?Total Football?.

It was a system that demanded every player, bar the goalkeeper, have the ability to play in any position at any time.

Johan Cruyff was the focal point of the team, one of the greatest players in history, and he led the Dutch all the way to the final.

There they met West Germany, European champions and a side skippered by their own all-time great Franz Beckenbauer.

The Germans also had Gerd Muller, one of the finest goalscorers of all time, and Sepp Maier, an outstanding goalkeeper. All three were Bayern Munich teammates, who that year assumed Ajax Amsterdam's mantle as European champions.

They also triumphed over the Dutch in the World Cup final, winning 2-1 at Munich's futuristic Olympic Stadium after falling behind to a first minute penalty, scored by Johan Neeskens, before a German player had even touched the ball.

Paul Breitner equalised with a penalty and then Muller, who had scored 10 goals in 1970, scored his fourth of the tournament to seal victory.

It was his 14th goal in the finals, an all-time World Cup scoring record he still holds going into the 2006 finals.

ARGENTINA 1978

Final: ARGENTINA 3 NETHERLANDS 1 (after extra-time)

Argentina had been bidding to stage the World Cup since the 1930s but when the tournament was finally held there the country was under the control of a military junta. As a result, the finals were played in a tense atmosphere.

Several European countries considered boycotting the event or trying to get it moved but Fifa insisted it went ahead as planned.

The two biggest names of 1974 were missing, Beckenbauer was playing in the United States and Cruyff, citing security worries, was out of the Dutch side.

But new talents were emerging.

Brazil were still in the doldrums and the world had a first glimpse of France's rising talent Michel Platini, destined to become one of the game's greats.

Argentina, coached by the chain-smoking Cesar Luis Menotti, had a fine team which included the iconic striker Mario Kempes and brilliant midfielder Osvaldo Ardiles.

They strode powerfully, bar a defeat by Italy, through to the final, even if a 6-0 win over Peru in the second phase match which guaranteed their place in the final was seen later to be something of a 'manufactured result' between the two South American nations.

As in 1974, a superb Dutch team battled through to face the hosts in the World Cup final, and again they gained scant reward for their popularity, enterprise and brilliant play.

Argentina won 3-1 in extra-time with Kempes scoring twice.

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