World Cups: 1982 - 1990

2006-05-31 14:33

London - This is the fourth part of a brief history of the World Cup finals covering the tournaments from 1982 to 1990:

SPAIN 1982

Final: ITALY 3 WEST GERMANY 1

An expanded World Cup of 24 teams included an increase in the number of finalists from Asia, Africa and the Concacaf region of North and Central America but it was the Europeans who dominated the competition.

However, the format left much to be desired.

After the teams were split into six groups of four, the top two in each advanced to a second round of 12 with four groups of three.

The four group winners advanced to the semi-finals and in the event Italy, Poland, West Germany and France battled through.

Hosts Spain were eliminated in the second phase after losing 2-1 to West Germany and drawing 0-0 with England, who also went out despite being undefeated in their five matches.

Champions Argentina went out in the second phase, too, losing to Italy (2-1) and Brazil (3-1), when Diego Maradona was sent off. His day, though, was to come.

Italy battled through to the last four after starting the tournament poorly with three draws in their opening group matches against Poland (0-0), Peru (1-1) and Cameroon (1-1).

But they came to life in the second phase, following up a 2-1 win over Argentina with a 3-2 victory over Brazil in one of the best World Cup matches of all time.

Paolo Rossi, who only returned to the side a few weeks earlier at the end of a suspension for his alleged role in a match-fixing scandal, which he has always strenuously denied, scored a hat-trick against Brazil and then two more against Poland in the semi-finals as Italy reached their first final since 1970.

The Germans arrived after their epic victory over France in the semis in Seville when they battled back from trailing Michel Platini's side 3-1 in extra-time to force a 3-3 draw and then win on penalties.

But they went into the final with their best player, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge not fully fit. He went off soon after Italy took a 2-0 lead in the 68th minute of a game which they eventually won 3-1 to become world champions for the third time.

Rossi maintained his scoring form with the opening goal early in the second half while Marco Tardelli and Alessandro Altobelli added the others. Paul Breitner's late consolation meant he became only the third player, after Brazilians Vava and Pele, to score in two finals following his penalty in 1974.

MEXICO 1986

Final: ARGENTINA 3 WEST GERMANY 2

Colombia were due to host the 1986 World Cup but pulled out three years earlier saying the cost was prohibitive and their infrastructure could not support it.

Fifa awarded the tournament to Mexico, who became the first country to host it twice.

The heat and altitude that affected players in 1970 did so again but players were fitter and better prepared than 16 years earlier.

The tournament consisted of 24 teams again but Fifa introduced a knockout second round of 16 nations rather than the second round groups of 1982.

Champions Italy made it as far as the second round where they lost 2-0 to France, while favourites Argentina, hosts Mexico, England, Brazil and West Germany were among those who reached the last eight.

The outstanding match brought together England and Argentina for the first time since their armed conflict over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands in 1982.

Argentina emerged the victors on June 22 at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico where Diego Maradona won the match with his infamous ?Hand of God? goal and his utterly brilliant second when he dribbled from inside his own half, took on and beat half the England defence before rounding goalkeeper Peter Shilton to score.

Argentina beat Belgium in the semis, when Maradona scored another dazzling solo goal, to reach the final, while West Germany, as they had done in 1982, beat France in the semis.

The South Americans were the better team for much of a thrilling final at the Azteca and built a 2-0 lead after 56 minutes with goals from Jose Luis Brown and Jorge Valdano.

Rummenigge and Rudi Voeller pulled Germany level with eight minutes to go before a dinked pass from Maradona set Jorge Burruchaga away and he made no mistake with an 85th-minute winner.

ITALY 1990

Final: WEST GERMANY 1 ARGENTINA 0

The 1990 finals in Italy were a curious mixture of good and bad games, the final fitting into the second category.

There were also several wonderful surprises and days of woeful refereeing.

Penalty shootouts began to decide more matches and, although the fans in soccer-mad Italy were passionate about it all, the event left behind bitter-sweet memories.

Italy's failure to reach the final and the disappointing quality of that showpiece occasion were two of the main reasons.

Italy became the first European country to stage the World Cup twice after hosting and winning the 1934 finals and expectations were high they could triumph again.

In the end, those ambitions proved too great and they fell at the semi-final stage.

They started with wins over Austria (1-0), the United States (1-0) and Czechoslovakia (2-0) in the group stage and then saw off Uruguay (2-0) and Ireland (1-0) to reach the last four.

Salvatore ?Toto? Schillaci, who had only played twice for Italy before the finals, emerged as the competition's top scorer with six goals and became an instant national hero.

Argentina arrived in Italy looking to defend their title with skipper Maradona enjoying an extra incentive to do well because he played in Italy for Napoli.

Argentina were stunned in the opening match when they lost 1-0 to Cameroon and although they recovered to reach the final, that defeat underlined their vulnerability.

Cameroon sparkled and took England to extra-time in the quarter-finals before losing 3-2. That set up England for another match against old rivals West Germany.

The Germans eventually won 4-3 on penalties after the teams battled to a 1-1 draw.

The other semi-final between Italy and Argentina in Maradona's adopted home town of Naples also went to penalties, with Argentina also winning 4-3 after a 1-1 draw.

Italy went on to beat England 2-1 in the third-fourth place match which was scant reward for the hosts.

For England, although they lost out on a place in the final, this World Cup signalled something of a rebirth.

The game had been blighted in its birthplace because of England's failures to reach the finals of 1974 and 1978 and then by hooliganism and the Heysel Stadium, Hillsborough and Bradford City disasters in the 1980s.

The tears shed by Paul Gascoigne in the semi-final defeat, plus the inspirational soundtrack, used on British TV, of Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti singing 'Nessun Dorma' touched a nerve.

Football was suddenly cool again and the impact from that time has yet to wear off.

Luckily, the memory of the worst final of all has been forgotten.

The Germans won 1-0 with a late penalty from Andreas Brehme and Argentina finished the match with nine men, the first team to have a player, or even two, dismissed in the final. Franz Beckenbauer became the first man to captain and later coach a side to World Cup success.

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