MARADONA -THE ONE MAN
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,
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.