100 Most Memorable World Cup Moments (40-31)

The beautiful game returns to its spiritual home with the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. We at Goalden Times are revisiting the 100 most memorable moments from the past editions. Some are inspirational, some are controversial. Some will leave a smile on your face, some will make you wanting for more. You will find everything here. The seventh installment: Moments 40 – 31.

Match: Austria vs. Switzerland
Round: Quarter-final
Venue & Date: Stade Olympique de la Pontaise, Lausanne, Switzerland, 26th June, 1954


Austria faced host Switzerland in the first quarter-final of 1954 World Cup. This World Cup produced many memorable matches, and this was one of them. The average number of goals per match in this World Cup was a staggering 5.38 goals per match, and this quarter-final match contributed to that number in large extent. Total 12 goals were scored in this match, and sometimes it can be mistaken as a tennis scoreline. Before this match, Austia had scored 6 goals in two matches without conceding any and Switzerland had scored 6 goals in three matches. All six Swiss goals came against Italy whom they faced twice before the quarter-final, once in the group stage and again in group stage play-off match to decide who will advance to the next round as they were tied on points.

Swiss players were aggressive in the initial minutes of the match and took a 3-0 lead within 20 minutes of the game. The temperature was 40°C on that day and the heat was on the Austrian defence as well as they failed to contain the initial onslaught by the Swiss forwards. Robert Ballaman opened the scoring from a shot outside penalty area on 16th minute, and then Sepp Huegi scored on 17th and 19th minute, both from close ranges, to make it 3-0 in favour of the hosts.

Austria bounced back immediately, and started a series of goals that would be remembered for ages to come. On 25th minute, Theodor Wagner went near the penalty area after a couple of exchanges with Robert Koerner, and then took a diagonal shot that beat the Swiss keeper Eugene Parlier on the far post. On 26th minute, Alfred Koerner was on the score sheet this time, as his left footed volley hit the post and went inside to reduce the margin to 2-3. And on 27th minute, Theodor Wagner dodged past three players outside penalty area to take a similar left footed volley to beat Parlier and restored parity in the match. All those Swiss supporters who were celebrating their passage to semi-final were getting nervous. Their nervousness increased as Austrians just could not stop scoring. Ernst Ocwirk received a ground pass from the right wing on 32nd minute and his grounder went inside the goal to make it 4-3 in favour of Austria. Alfred Koerner’s lob from outside the penalty area fell on Parlier who fumbled the ball, and Koerner tapped in from close ranges to make it 5-3 in favour of Austria on 34th minute. From being 0-3 down till 25th minute, now Austria had scored five goals in the span of 9 minutes to make it 5-3. This was the first instance in World Cup where a team came back from 0-3 deficit, and this was the maximum number of goals scored in minimum time span in any World Cup match thus far.

The “Heat battle of Lausanne” was not finished yet. Robert Ballaman reduced the margin for Swiss on 39th minute, and Eugene Parlier saved an Alfred Koerner penalty on 45th minute, to finish the craziest first half of World Cup football history with scoreline reading 5-4 in favour of Austria. The second half was much less eventful compared to first, as only three goals were scored in this half. Theodor Wagner’s right-footed shot on 53rd minute increased the Austrian lead to 6-4. Sepp Huegi reduced the margin with a long ranger on 60th minute to give the Swiss a faint glimmer of hope, but Erich Probst lobbed the ball past Parlier on 76th minute to make it 7-5 in favour of Austria. Last 14 minutes of the match did not saw any goal, which was almost unbelievable considering the carnage that was going on for first 76 minutes of the match. Austria went on to win the match 7-5, and till date this match remains the symbol of goal-fest in World Cup football. They finally clinched the third place by defeating Uruguay after they were beaten in the semi-final by the eventual winners West Germany.

Match: Argentina vs France
Round: Group Stage
Venue & Date: Estadio Parque Central, Montevideo, Uruguay, 15th July, 1930


In the inaugural World Cup, Argentina – one of the hot favourites – were drawn with France, Chile and Mexico in the group stage. This was the only group having four teams – rest of the groups had three teams – and as only one team from each group could qualify for the semi-final, competition was at its peak.

France had started their campaign strongly by thrashing Mexico 4-1. But only two days later they were to face group favourites Argentina in a very difficult battle, while Chile had yet to play their first match. Fatigue for the earlier match coupled with rough play by the Latin Americans hindered France’s chances. French goalkeeper Alex Thépot had to leave the field after 20 minutes. Then striker Lucien Laurent- scorer of the first ever goal in the World Cup history couple of days back – felt the wrath of a crunching tackle by Luis Monti and had to limp off for majority of the match.

Les Blues held on gallantly but succumbed to pressure when Monti scored in the 81st minute from a free kick. A defeat would have made the semi-final spot quite difficult for either team and hence France had no choice but to try for an equaliser. They had come thus far avoiding several obstacles, mostly off the field. The impending war scenes back home, economic meltdown (they could participate only after the host Uruguay promised to bear their expenses) and job insecurity for most of the (amateur those days) players – nothing could stop them. And here. A goal down, France practically had nothing to lose. So, they tried and came quite close. In the 84th minute, Frenchman Marcel Langiller was clear on goal and about to make the score 1-1 when referee Almeida Rêgo from Brazil quite inexplicably blew the final whistle. Argentines left the in a jubilant mood but the France team was fuming.

After much discussion and confrontation referee restarted the game. Now it was turn for Argentina to go crazy at the decision, most of their players were about to head for the dressing room. The match produced no more drama and Argentina finally won 1-0. But France had been robbed off a golden chance and were left to ponder over for eternity what could have happened if the whistle was not blown at the crucial moment.

Match: England vs. Argentina
Round: Quarter-final
Venue & Date: Wembley Stadium, London, England, 23rd June, 1966


Host England squared off with Argentina in the last quarter-final of 1966 World Cup. Both the teams came through from tough groups with England winning Group A ahead of Uruguay, Mexico and France. Argentina was level on points with West Germany but were runners-up in Group B because of inferior goal difference.

1966 World cup was an eventful event, with rise of North Korea, fall of Brazil and Italy, goal scoring spree of Eusebio. 1966 World Cup was also the only world cup where the host team played all their matches in the same stadium. England played all their matches in Wembley Stadium, London, thus minimizing their travel fatigue. Interestingly 1966 World Cup remains the only time England qualified for the final of the World Cup.

Coming back to the match, these two nations met for the first time in World Cups, which would became a well-publicised rivalry in years to come. England started the match in attacking mode, with Geoff Hurst keeping Argentine keeper Antonio Roma busy with some long range shots within 10 minutes. Argentines were leaving lot of space open in the defense and were lucky not to concede a penalty on 16th minute after a foul on Bobby Charlton inside the penalty area. Argentina’s first significant attack came on 24th minute when a volley from captain Antonio Rattin missed the goal narrowly. Allan Ball missed the target narrowly from the left wing as the English attacks continued and Argentine defenders were not closing down when the English players were advancing up the field. Antonio Roma was again called in action as Bobby Charlton took a long range shot from just outside the penalty area on 36th minute. Argentina was holding on to their fort, and was looking forward to the half time whistle.

England was awarded a free-kick just outside the penalty area on 37th minute amidst vehement protests from Argentina. West German referee Rudolf Kreitlein did not lend his ear to those protests and waved off the Argentine players. England failed to score from the free-kick, and Roma started the match with goal kick. Suddenly the match was stopped and Antonio Rattin was given marching orders from the field. Nobody was quite sure what was happening in the middle, as Rattin did not commit any dangerous foul that could earn marching orders. There was no red cards in those days. Rattin could not understand the order, and due to his lack of ability to speak either English or German, he asked for a translator to get clarification why he was given marching orders. Later referee Kreitlein revealed that he did not like the way Rattin “looked at” him. Argentine coach Juan Carlos Lorenzo came onto the field and had a discussion with the referee, but referee stood firm on his “crazy” decision and did not take it back.

Rattin had to be escorted out of the pitch with a few English fans taking a jibe at him. The match was actually a rather peaceful one, not involving any dangerous fight, contrary to the popular belief. It is definitely much less dangerous comparing to what Portuguese players had done to Brazil. The rest of the match bearded the shadow of this incident, though both teams created decent chances of scoring. Argentine keeper Roma made a series of saves to deny England the lead, whereas Argentina almost went ahead through Oscar Mas on 75th minute. Martin Peters again tested Roma from left wing, before providing the assist to Geoff Hurst, who broke the deadlock on 78th minute. A cross by Peters from the left wing was met by Geoff Hurst inside the penalty area, and his glancing header went past Antonio Roma to give England a 1-0 lead.

That turned out to be the only goal of the match as England held on to the 1-0 lead. Alf Ramsey rushed inside the pitch and prevented his players from exchanging jerseys with Argentine players, though the players shook hands and exchanged jerseys. It was Alf Ramsey, the English coach, who later tried to instigate hatred by commenting that Argentineans behaved like animals on the pitch, though the match was far from any animal instinct displayed in the ground. Some bad refereeing decisions ruined an otherwise entertaining match, and started a bitter rivalry between two footballing powerhouses in the World Cup.

Match: Argentina vs. Peru
Round: Second Round Group stage
Venue & Date: Estadio Gigante de Arroyito, Rosario, 21st June, 1978


Argentina was the host nation in 1978 World Cup. They indeed had a great side – featuring Mario Kempes, Leopoldo Luque, Danielle Passarella, Ubaldo Fillol and Daniel Bertoni – which was capable of defeating any side in the world. 1978 World Cup was much more than a footballing event. Argentina was under the military dictatorship Jorge Videla at that time, and the country did not have a good reputation around the world. An Argentine victory at the World Cup was needed very much to clean the image of Argentina in front of the world. Videla would cite the enthusiasm of the Argentine fans for their victorious football team as evidence of his personal and the junta’s popularity.

Argentina had qualified as runners-up from a tough group in the first round which had France, Italy and Hungary. According to the format of the tournament, they were grouped with Brazil, Poland and Peru in the round 2, with winner of the group advancing to the final of the tournament. The first 2 round of matches in the group went more or less according to the prediction. Brazil defeated Peru 3-0 while Argentina got better of Poland 2-0. The match between Argentina and Brazil was a cautious cagey affair, which ended 0-0. Going into the last round of matches on 21st June, both Brazil and Argentina had the chance to qualify for the final. Brazil played their match in the afternoon, 1645 hrs local time against Poland, and won the match 3-1. Argentina was playing Peru in the evening 1915 hrs local time slot, and thus knew exactly what needed to be done to progress to the final. Brazil had a goal difference of +5, and Argentina had a goal difference of +2. So Argentina needed to win by clear 4 goal margin to qualify for the final.

Let us mention the proceedings of the match before going into further deliberations associated with the match. Mario Kempes opened the scoring on 21st minute after receiving a pass from Pasarella and dribbling past two defenders before slotting the ball inside the net. On 43rd minute, Alberto Tarantini nodded in from a Daniel Bertoni corner to make it 2-0 in favour of Argentina. Tarantini was almost unchallenged inside Peruvian penalty area.

Right after the half time on 49th minute, Mario Kempes scored the third goal for Argentines after the Peru defenders failed to clear a Leopoldo Luque free-kick from the right side of the pitch. The whole stadium was celebrating along with the players as Argentina needed only one more goal, if Peru did not score, to qualify for the final. The all important fourth goal arrived straight away on 50th minute, as Kempes sent in a cross from the left wing, which was headed in by Pasarella towards the goal. Leopoldo Luque nodded in the empty net to trigger off wild celebrations among the players, 4-0 to Argentina. Argentine juggernaut continued as Rene Houseman tapped in an Oscar Ortiz center on 67th minute to make it 5-0. Oscar Ortiz advanced almost unchallenged during the move leading to this goal. Leopoldo Luque completed the goal fest on 72nd minute following a fumble by Rodolfo Manzo. The final score line read Argentina 6-0 Peru. Argentina qualified for the final of 1978 World Cup.

The result raised a few eyebrows and drew media attention. The Peruvian goalkeeper was actually playing the match in his home ground. Ramon Quiroga Arancibia was born in Rosario, Argentina and started his professional career in Rosario Central club of Argentina. It was argued that he could have saved three of those six goals that could have prevented Argentine progress to the cup final. Two of the goals came as aftermath of long cross towards the penalty box, and in none of the cases, Quiroga showed the aggression required to punch out the ball from penalty area. The defense was almost non-functional for the whole match, which allowed free roaming space for an already dangerous attacking line of Argentina. Though media blamed Quiroga for not giving full effort against his country of birth in that match, a close look at the video of the match reveals that it was impossible for him to do anything for at least three of the six goals.

The Peruvian military president Francisco Bermudez was accused of illegally sending 13 Peruvians to Argentina as part of the so-called ‘Condor Plan’, under which Latin American regimes in the 1970s co-operated to repress political dissidents. Once inside Argentina, the prisoners were tortured by the military regime and forced to sign false confessions. Mr. Ledesma, Peruvian opposition leader at the time, claimed Argentinean dictator Jorge Videla only accepted the political prisoners on condition that Peru deliberately lost the World Cup match — and by enough goals to ensure Argentina progressed to the final. Both Argentina and Peru denied any wrong-doing in this match. Argentina went on to defeat a strong Netherlands side in the World Cup final to prove their supremacy in the football world – no one could claim any pact between Argentina and Netherlands before the final. Netherlands lost the final for a second consecutive time, and thus their golden generation ended their careers empty handed. Years later, when Argentine players like Luque and Kempes were asked about the incident, they mentioned that they knew nothing about any pact or conspiracy, they just played football. But events that night triggered a change in rule – it ensured that in future final group matches would kick off at the same time.

Match: Mexico vs. Bulgaria
Round: Round of 16
Venue & Date: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico, June 15th, 1986


1986 World Cup was originally scheduled to take place in Colombia, but due to a natural calamity on 1985, it was shifted to Mexico. The host nation quite comfortably topped Group B by defeating Belgium and Iraq, sandwiched by a draw against Paraguay. Mexico team mainly consisted of local players, with Hugo Sanchez being the only super-star in the team, who played in Real Madrid. But Javier Aguirre, Fernando Quirarte, Felix Barbosa, Carlos Munoz, Manuel Negrete did boast a solid line-up who were looking increasingly formidable at home territory.

Mexico’s opponent in the second round was Bulgaria, who had qualified as one of the best four 3rd place teams from the group stages – a new format that was introduced in that edition of World Cup. That was no mean feat as they were drawn in a tough Group A featuring reigning champions Italy and eventual champion Argentina. Bulgaria They managed to draw with Italy, could not force a result against South Korea and then lost to Argentina – but made it to the next round by virtue of a superior goal difference.
It was an era where couple of draws were given equal importance as an outright win and Bulgaria (and also Uruguay from Group E) benefited from that at the expense of Hungary. Bulgaria, however, was a compact defensive side with Borislav Mikhailov as goalkeeper and Petar Petrov, Georgi Dimitrov in the defence.
Mexico started the match in whirlwind fashion as Aguirre, Sanchez and Negrete frequently moved upfront and took their chances at goal. Negrete’s shot from a rebounded freekick was tipped off by Mikhailov in the 3rd minute. Then Mikhailov had to punch out a Hugo Sanchez shot from close range in the18th minute. Soon, in the 24th minute, Aguirre blasted a shot from close range only to find Mikhailov’s body in the way. Literally, the Bulgarian keeper was the only obstacle between Mexico and a goal.

But even the all conquering Mikhailov could not stop Mexicans from taking the lead in the 35th minute, when Negrete produced arguably the most acrobatic goal in World Cup history. The move was an innocuous one to start with. Raul Servin ran down towards the left corner flag only to be chased down by Georgi Yordanov and Radosalv Zdravkov. The latter finally cleared the ball towards midfield. Thomas Boy then headed the ball towards penalty area, and Aguirre nodded it down to Sanchez. Sanchez tried to enter the penalty area by dribbling past three defenders but Petrov managed to clear the ball only as far as Miguel Espana who again lobbed the ball towards penalty area. Now the ball was met by an onrushing Negrete. Negrete controlled the ball with a little lob and on the second touch passed the ball to Aguirre on his right and continued the run. The defenders were confused whom to guard as Sanchez was also making a run on the far side of the penalty area. Aguirre sensed this confusion among the defenders and returned the ball to Negrete like a one-two wall pass with the ball about 2 feet above the ground. Negrete squeezed inside the 3 defenders just outside the penalty area and jumped above the ground, connected the ball with a “scissor” kick. The ball flew past a diving Mikhailov and went inside the goal inside the far goalpost. The whole stadium erupted in joy and Mexican teammates jumped over Manuel Negrete.

This goal is still considered as one of the most “acrobatic” goals scored in the World Cup history. The goal earned Negrete a remembrance plaque outside the Azteca stadium and a contract at Europe – he joined Sporting Club de Portugal in the next season. Mexico scored again via Aguirre in the 60th minute from Negrete’s corner kick, and won the match 2-0. Manuel Negrete’s name was etched in the history of world cup due to an acrobatic brilliance.

Match: Serbia & Montenegro vs Argentina
Round: Group Stage
Venue & Date: Red Bull Arena, Zentralstadion, Leipzig, Germany, 11th June, 2006


In the 2006 World Cup, Argentina was drawn in Group C, the group of death. They had to face off strong challenges from Netherlands and Ivore Coast. Only saving grace was the last team in the group – Serbia & Montenegro, making their debut in the competition after being separated from Yugoslovia. And the Latin Americans ensured they take full toll of them.
Argentina actually looked destined for glory for most of the tournament. Their midfield was orchestrated by Juan Roman Riquelme who played much like a quarter-back, with the team revolving around his assured passing. Other attacking options comprised of Pablo Aimar, Javier Saviola, Hernan Crespo and a certain 18 year old Lionel Messi. And they showed their full prowess of slick movement and inventive passing in their second group match against Serbia & Montenegro.
The moment of the match occurred in the 31st minute while Argentina was leading by 1-0. Argentina choreographed – yes, it was like watching a ballet or listening to some symphony – a never seen before display of 25 passes culminating to a goal. Baring goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri and full-back Nicolas Burdisso, every single Albiceleste player had touched the ball in this breath taking move. The play began deep inside the Argentine half with Maxi Rodriguez passing back to Gabriel Heinze. The sequence of players involved then was Javier Mascherano, Riquelme, Maxi, Juan Pablo Sorin, Maxi, Sorin, Mascherano, Riquelme, Roberto Ayala, Maxi, Mascherano, Maxi, Sorin, Maxi, Esteban Cambiasso, Riquelme, Mascherano, Sorin, Saviola, Riquelme, Saviola, Cambiasso, Crespo, Cambiasso with Cambiasso scoring. Maxi was involved 6 times, while Requilme, Masherano and Sorin had touched the ball 4 times each. The beauty of the goal was all these passes were brisk and off the ball movements of Argentina was a sight to behold. The move found a just culmination as Cambiasso, who was benched after the first group match and had to come on in the 18th minute only for an injured Luis Gonzalez, cut across the ball with his left foot after Crespo had brilliantly back heeled the ball towards the penalty spot.
Serbia & Montenegro players stood like statues, simply awestruck. The play has since been hailed as “the play of the tournament”, “one of the all time great World Cup goals”, “a joy forever”, “an exposition of football” and “a string of pearls”. The goal was described enthusiastically by the Guardian’s Barry Glendenning, who wrote: “Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Cambiasso. Crespo. Cambiasso … goal! The goal of the tournament so far and quite possibly the greatest goal that’s ever been scored. They’ll be setting that one to music for years to come.”
Argentina went on to complete a 6-0 thrashing which ensured their pole position in the group followed by a goal less draw with Netherlands in their last group match. However the Latin Americans could not progress beyond quarter finals where they were beaten in shoot out by the host Germany. Cambiasso missed the fateful spot kick. Truly game of sport is a great leveller!

Match: Brazil vs. France (the preparation period)
Round: Final
Venue: Before the match, State de France, Paris, 12th July, 1998


Brazil qualified for the World Cup final second consecutive time, and after ending the 24-year-drought of World Cups in 1994, they were firm favourites to win the title again. France qualified for the final after a series of patchy performances. They defeated Italy in quarter-final via tie-breaker, and rode a Lillian Thuram brace to wipe out Croatian advantage in the semi-final and advanced to the final. Football pundits around the world tipped Brazil to win the match, with players like Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Bebeto, Dunga, Cafu in their ranks. France had Zidane, Didier Deschamp, Marcel Desially, Youri Djorkaef, but their power and weightage was supposed to be at a lower level compared to Brazil.

Before the match, The Brazilian team went to have lunch together at Chateau de Grande Romaine in Lésigny, near Paris. After the lunch when the players came back to room, at about 3:00 P.M. local time, Ronaldo fell down on the floor of his room which he was sharing with Roberto Carlos, and had a convulsion. He frothed at the mouth and shaked uncontrollably. Cesar Sampaio, Brazillian defender rushed in before the doctors and tried to open his mouth and removing his tongue from teeth to let him breathe. Roberto Carlos and Edmundo called the coaching staff members of the team, who rushed in to see that Ronaldo was sleeping. Keeping in mind about the final that was going to take place in few hours, most of the staff members were off the opinion that Ronaldo should not be told about what happened once he woke up. Ronaldo woke up after a while, but was really subdued, and on insistence by Leonardo, he was told what had happened. The Team doctors told him that he would be carried to hospital to have tests, and was taken to the Lilas Clinic in Paris while the other players went to Stade de France. The initial team list, that came out 70 minutes before the match did not feature Ronaldo.

But only half hour later, Ronaldo appeared with the all-clear certificate from the doctors, and declared himself fit to play. Coach Mario Zagalo, who had given a pep-talk highlighting his own campaign in the 1962 world cup to the players, had no choice to include him in the squad. He later confessed that if he had not included Ronaldo in the team after he himself claimed fit to play, he would have faced more criticism. The whole team was not quite out of trauma, and Brazil was just a mere shadow of their display throughout the World Cup. Zinedine Zidane scored two goals from two headers in the first half, and the match was all but over in the first half. Emmanuel Petit did score in the dying minutes of the match to complete the 3-0 route, and one of the most one-sided finals ever played in history of World Cup.

Several theories emerged behind the nervous breakdown of Ronaldo before the final. When Brazil won the World Cup in 1994, he was a 17-year-old kid, and did not feature in any of the matches. In 1998, Brazil attack revolved around him, and there was a lot of expectation on a 21-year-old boy, who was about to play the biggest game of his career. Many people said that he could not cope up with the pressure of World Cup final. Why Ronaldo was included in the squad if he was not fit? A readymade scapegoat was available in form of Nike. Nike and CBF- Brazils’ football federation had penned down a deal in excess of US $ 150million two years before which irked common Brazilian people and politicians. The whole Brazil believed that Nike forced Zagalo to play Ronaldo, so as not to lose on the revenue on sponsorship deals. Enquiry in the Brazilian Parliament tried to find out the real cause of Ronaldo’s trauma, and Nike came out unscathed there. One plausible explanation that was given by the team doctors was that Ronaldo was given an injection for his knee injury, which contained common anaesthetic Xylocaine. The medicine got inside his vein and triggered that kind of nervous attack.

Conspiracy theories regarding drugs, turbulent relationships, bribe surfaced regarding Ronaldo’s illness. Some of the doctors mentioned it was rarest of rare case in sports medicine history. Till date it remains a mystery, an unsolved mystery. Though Ronaldo and Brazil did bury the ghost of 1998 four years later in Yokohoma, Japan, where they defeated Germany 2-0 to win the Cup for record fifth time, Ronaldo scored both the goals in the final, the 1998 mystery still lingers over the people of football crazy nation. What actually happened or triggered the nervous breakdown to Ronaldo, probably we will never know.

Match: Italy vs. Argentina (the build-up to the game)
Round: Semi-final
Venue & Date: Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy, 3rd July, 1990


Host Italy faced Argentina in the first semi-final of Italia ’90 in one of the most memorable match-ups ever in World Cup history. The match was memorable not so much because of the footballing reasons, but more so because of various off-field emotional attachments and consequences associated with the game.

Diego Armando Maradona, captain of reigning world champion Argentina, played his club football at that time in Napoli. He arrived at the club in 1984 and left in 1991. Napoli won two “Scudetto”, one Copa Italia, one Supercopa Italia, and one UEFA Cup during Maradona’s stint with the club. Napoli won nothing before and after Maradona left the club, till 2012. In the season 1990, just before the World Cup, Napoli won the Scudetto for the 1989-1990 season. The little man from Buenos Aires was treated as “God” in the southern Italian city, which was deprived of generally any facilities from the national government.

Napoli was not generally considered a part of Italy as its culture and people are much different from those in the northern parts of the country. In a football crazy nation, the Neapolitans did not have any trophy to show for either, to claim a place in the discussions of common Italian people. Arrival of Maradona from Barcelona changed that dramatically. Napoli’s footballing fortune changed and the club became a premier force in Italian football as long as they had the little magician. Maradona gave the common Neapolitans something to be proud of, and something to cheer about. He gave them the strength to fight the racist behaviour shown by northern Italians. Neapolitans generally was of the opinion that it did not matter they did not have mayor, housing, schools, employment, buses, sanitation, money or ideas, but they did have Maradona.

Before the match on 3rd July, Maradona spoke to his fans in the city of Naples via media and urged the Neapolitans to support him in the match against Italy. He mentioned that the whole Italy forgets about Napoli for 364 days of the year, but cometh the match time tomorrow, Italy was considering Neapolitans one of their own and asking for support. Maradona hoped Naples would root for him, as they have rooted for him for past six years.

To just give a glimpse of Naples love for Maradona, 25% name of the new-born babies were named Diego after the first Scudetto win for Napoli in 1986-87. He was referred as the king of the kingdom Napoli, and featured in many religious prayers. The whole Napoli was marginalised by industrial northern powerhouses Turin and Milan, and suffered from acute economical crisis over the years. So Maradona’s appeal for Neapolitans support against Italian national anthem was significant one considering the socio-economical scenario in the region.

On 3rd July, before the match, Argentine national anthem was NOT jeered by 60,000 people present in the stadium. After the national anthem Maradona answered with a bow to the fans present in the stadium. But just before the kick-off, a huge banner in the stands was unveiled, which read “”Maradona, Napoli ti ama, ma l’Italia è la nostra patria!” meaning” Maradona, Naples loves you, but Italy is our blood, our homeland!” So finally the Neapolitans were going with the homeland, despite their own Maradona was playing on the field against Italy. Salvatore Schillaci, who claimed before the match that Napoli is not discriminated by the rest of the nation, gave Italy lead in the 17th minute, but a glancing header from Claudio Caniggia restored parity in the 67th minute. The match finished 1-1 after added extra time and went into penalty shoot-out. Maradona scored from an important fourth spot-kick in the tie-breaker, and Sergio Goycochea saved two spot kicks from Roberto Donadoni and Aldo Serena to take Argentina to the final of Italia 90, at the expense of the host nation.

The whole nation was under shock, and took time to realise that they are ousted from the tournament they were supposed to and predicted to win. Maradona went towards all the four corners of the stadium and bowed to the Neapolitan fans. After a while, the fans in the stadium applauded their own “Maradona”. It was one of the most emotional roller-coaster stories ever emerged in world cup history. Diego Maradona’s jersey was retired by Napoli, and to honour the little magician, Stadio San Paolo will be name Stadio Diego Maradona, after the day the magician will start his journey to afterlife.

Match: West Germany vs France
Round: Semi-final
Venue & Date: Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, Seville, Spain, 8th July, 1982


There are very few matches in history that symbolize the clash of contrasting styles between two successful teams. The classic semi-final between West Germany and France from 1982 World Cup is definitely one of them. Michel Platini’s France, which had mesmerized the football world, against the gritty and resolute West Germany. The magical trio of Platini-Girese-Tigana became a stuff of legends. On the contrarily, West Germany had to rely on their traditional qualities of consistency and never-say-die attitude to make it to the semi-final. They could well have been knocked out in first round itself but they managed to qualify after a controversial group league match against Austria.

Michel Platini was the French captain that night and has said: ‘That was my most beautiful game. What happened in those two hours encapsulated all the sentiments of life itself. No film or play could ever recapture so many contradictions and emotions. It was complete. So strong. It was fabulous.’

The kick-off was scheduled at 9:00 P.M. but it was a muggy night in Seville, with the temperature in the high nineties. France had a day fewer to recover from their last group match, but this handicap had been balanced by nature, a stomach bug affecting their opponents. The Förster brothers and striker Klaus Fischer were among those affected.

As expected, France started the match with a series of attacks in the German half. Surprisingly Germans took the lead when Pierre Littbarski scored after a save from French ‘keeper. Platini levelled the score with a penalty minutes later as the match finished 1-1 in normal time.

In the third minute of extra time, Briegel obstructed Platini out on the right, and now something inexplicable happened. The penalty area was packed. As Giresse shaped to dispatch the free-kick, France players began to move, to dart this way and that, their markers shadowed them, and at the moment Giresse’s cross arrived the middle of the penalty area was suddenly empty. Except for the French sweeper, Marius Trésor, who stood all alone just in front of the penalty spot. With perfect, joyful technique, he walloped the volley into the net.

After the second French goal, Jupp Derwall brought his injured but totemic captain, reigning European Footballer of the Year Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, off the bench in place of Briegel, and the substitution jolted the Germans: a shock of effort rippled through the team, sending them pulsing forward. On the contrary. In his own half, Giresse tapped a simple free-kick up the right to Rocheteau, who advanced and squared the ball to Platini on the front edge of the penalty area. Faced with three defenders ahead of him, Platini sent the ball on across to Six on the left. Six controlled the ball and then, in his most positive contribution of the match, caressed the ball from one foot to another while others moved around him: Platini went forward then suddenly out to the right, dragging defenders with him. Into space in the middle came Alain Giresse, and now Six laid the ball off gently, invitingly, into his path. Giresse met the ball with the outside of his right foot, giving it a flight path that curved outside Schumacher’s dive and then inside towards the goal, glancing in off the right-hand post. Three-One.

France did not sit on their lead, by playing square passes simply to keep possession. They wanted to score a fourth, and surged forward. Six was fouled, another Platini free-kick. This one ripped through the wall and cannoned back off Schumacher’s chest.’Germany are dissolving,’ the commentator Martin Tyler said. ‘I can’t remember ever saying that about a German side.’

In 102nd minute, Rummenigge and Littbarski combined on the vacant left, Stielike joined in, the sweeper at last making an advanced contribution with a fine pass out to Littbarski, who floated the ball forward into space at the near post between the France defence and the goalkeeper. Janvion and Rummenigge ran forward, Ettori rushed out, all three lunged but the West German got there first, and with a deft, incisive flick sent the ball past Ettori and fractionally inside the near post.

In 107th minute, West Germany advanced down the left, Littbarski crossed, Hrubesch headed back from the far post into the middle. Klaus Fischer had been dominated throughout by Bernard Janvion. But a top-class striker has to be obtuse, undismayed by all that has gone before, eternally alert to that one opportunity. There were two defenders plus the goalkeeper on the line, but Fischer met Hrubesch’s lay-off with a brilliantly executed bicycle kick into the top corner.

The players were exhausted, no goals were scored after that and referee blew the final whistle. ‘So, abominably, irrationally and unforgivably,’ as Brian Glanville wrote, ‘a World Cup semi-final would be decided, for the first time, on penalties.’

It was tied 4-4 in the tie-breaker and the match reached the sudden death. Where Maxime Bossis struck his penalty to Schumacher’s right, and watched as the goalkeeper dived the same way: although the shot was a half-decent one, the save was easy enough. Horst Hrubesch now lumbered up, and shoot low and hard for the winning penalty. West Germany were through to the final.

The match would also be remembered for German goalie Harold Schumacher’s infamous lunge at Patrick Battiston. Michel Platini had released Battiston with a delicious through ball. Battiston had a clear sight of goal with only Schumacher in his path. The German’s ‘keeper didnt make any attempt to get the ball, instead flew straight towards Battiston’s torso. Battiston lost two teeth and suffered damage to his vertebrae. Schumacher was unfazed as he walked towards the edge of the penalty box as if nothing had happened. Incredibly the referee didn’t give a red card or a penalty to France. When Schumacher was told after the match that Battiston had lost two teeth, he said: ‘If that’s all that’s wrong, tell him I’ll pay for the crowns.’

Schumacher received great degrees of notoriety for his actions and was voted as more evil than Adolf Hitler in a French poll that year.

Match: Italy vs Brazil
Round: Semi-final
Venue : Stade Vélodrome, Marseille, France
Date: 16th June, 1938


The 1938 World Cup saw a repeat winner as Italy trumped Brazil to win it second time in a row. This was an unusual version of the World Cup where  Uruguay and Argentina did not participate, and Spain was barred from playing because of the war. Guiseppe Meazza was still pretty much the man to watch out for from Italy, although the outright winner for his amazing displays throughout the campaign was Brazil’s Leonidas Da Silva.

Meazza‘s feat at this World Cup found its way into the pages of soccer history and left an indelible mark on football fans across the world remember through generations.
Leonidas scored two goals in a two-match thriller with the Czechs in the quarter-final. While the Brazilians were playing very well, Leonidas was sharpening his skills. He has been credited with popularising the overhead kick and introducing the world to samba-style football players.
But then the Brazilian management made one of the craziest decisions in World Cup history when, they decided to rest Leonidas and fellow striker Tim for the semis to keep them fresh for the final.  Despite knowing  they were facing the defending World Champions, the Brazilians were so confident of their victory that they purchased all plane tickets from Marseille to Paris before the semi-final match. The  Brazilian coach even decided not to line up some of the stars like Leonidas, Tim or Brandão. “We don’t need them to defeat the Italians!” he had said arrogantly.
However, as the semi-final started, the arrogant Brazilians did not look so strong against the efficient, strong and tactically intelligent Italians, who completely managed to close down the Brazilian attack, making the first half a rather eventless and goalless affair.
In the second half, Brazil was still unable to force through the strong Italian defence, and on a deadly counter-attack Gino Colaussi brought Italy ahead 1-0.
Five minutes later, a controversial situation led to Italy’s second goal. The Swiss referee Hans Wutrich awarded Italy a penalty kick after the Brazilian defender Domingos da Guia kicked Piola, to take revenge for an earlier kick.
The Brazilian goalkeeper Walter, who was  known to hypnotize  opponents and save penalties back in Brazil seemed confident that he could save the shot as the legendary Milan-star Giuseppe Meazza stepped up to take the kick.
Meazza began his run up, and just as he was about to kick, his pants fell off, and while Walter was laughing, he pulled up his shorts with one hand and scored Italy’s second goal. The Brazilian goalkeeper was thus left laughing at his own defeat
This rather odd goal was the last goal Meazza scored for Italy. That, also was the goal that put Italy in the final.
In spite of Romeu scoring a late goal for Brazil, the Italians won and made it to their second World Cup final in a row. Italy had certainly been the better team, and the Brazilian arrogance in not playing some of their best players proved to be  their downfall, despite Guiseppe Meazza’s near-impossible moment of brilliance.
Italy would go on to win the trophy that year (its second in a row) against Hungary, and the next World Cup would not be held for another 12 years, till 1950, because of World War II.

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