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World Cup 1986

Gary Lineker (ENG)
Emilio Butragueño (SPA)
Diego Maradona (ARG)
Careca (BRA)
Preben Elkjær-Larsen (DEN)
Igor Belanov (SOV)
Jorge Valdano (ARG)
Alessandro Altobelli (ITA)
6 goals
5 goals
5 goals
5 goals
4 goals
4 goals
4 goals
4 goals
Number of games
Total goals scored
Average per game
Sendings off
Own goals
Total attendance
Average attendance


Colombia was originally given the 13th FIFA World Cup, but had to withdraw because of economical reasons. On short notice Mexico was given the job to stage the tournament. Only eight months before the cup, Mexico suffered an earthquake and an estimated 25.000 people died. Still they managed to stage the greatest event in the world and did it very well, even though some aspects of the TV coverage left a lot to be desired and technicians from other countries were eventually called in to help iron out the problems.

     The new rules in the tournament meant that only eight teams would be eliminated after the first round. The four best third placed teams could advance to the second round now. Defending champions Italy met Bulgaria in a boring opening match which ended 1-1. Maradona showed early on that this was to become his World Cup as he scored or assisted all Argentina's goals in the first round! Denmark, Morocco and the Soviet Union were other teams that sparkled in the early stages. The Danes trashed twice World Cup winner Uruguay by 6-1, while the Soviets humiliated Hungary by 6-0. Morocco topped England's group and their keeper Zaki Badou was one of best in the tournament. Brazil came to Mexico with an ageing side, but still won all their first round matches. In their group Northern Ireland failed to produce the play that took them so far in 1982. France and West Germany progressed through without any major trouble.

     Mexico topped their group, and the optimism increased even more when Manuel Negrete scored one of the greatest goals of the tournament against Bulgaria in the second round. Belgium beat the Soviet Union 4-3 after extra-time in an entertaining game, England and Lineker continued to impress and beat Paraguay comprehensively by 3-0. Spain destroyed Denmark by 5-1 after the Danes took the lead and a Matthäus free-kick marked an end to Morocco's brave efforts in this World Cup. Brazil danced through this round as well with 4-0 against Poland. France knocked out Italy and Argentina beat old enemies Uruguay.

     Three of the four quarterfinals went to penalties. Zico, Socrates and Platini missed penalties in the clash between France and Brazil, one of the best matches ever played in soccer history. Belgium beat Spain on penalties, as did West Germany with Mexico. England and Argentina met in the Azteca stadium where Maradona became the man in the spotlight once again. Two legendary goals, "The Hand of God" and the wonderful soloraid from inside his own half. Lineker got one back and won the Golden Boot as topscorer with 6 goals.

     The first semifinal was a replay of the one four years earlier in Spain between France and West Germany. This match never lived up to the standard of the match in Seville, but the outcome was the same. The Germans won, this time by 2-0 after Völler scoring the second goal in injury time. In the other semifinal, it was more Maradona magic. Two brilliant goals by him, the first a little flick with the outside of his left foot, and the other was another proof of his dribbling brilliance. Four men were left stranded as he slotted the ball past goalkeeper Pfaff. 

     The bronzematch was as in 1982 an entertaining one. France beat Belgium after extra time by 4-2. The big final in the Azteca stadium between West Germany and Argentina was an exciting game. A capacity crowd of 115.000 people watched the game. Maradona crowned himself king of soccer as Argentina ran out 3-2 winners. The Germans ended up as losers in the final for the second time in a row. Read more about the final by clicking on the "Final" link in the left column.

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