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Football World Cup - 1970: Mexico

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The World Cup: An Introduction | 1930: Uruguay | 1934: Italy | 1938: France | 1950: Brazil
1954: Switzerland | 1958: Sweden | 1962: Chile | 1966: England | 1970: Mexico
1974: West Germany | 1978: Argentina | 1982: Spain | 1986: Mexico | 1990: Italy | 1994: USA
1998: France | 2002: Japan and South Korea

The 1970 World Cup is now remembered as a classic - but, as usual, the tournament was preceded by disputes over the organisation of the event. The 1970 tournament was the first one in which kick-off times were moved at the request of TV companies. The TV people demanded noon kick-offs - an unpopular move with many of the players and managers, as it meant that the games were being played in intense heat.

This time, 75 teams entered the qualifying tournament. Those who failed to qualify included France, Portugal, Hungary, Argentina and Spain. Meanwhile, Morocco became the first African nation to reach the World Cup finals since the Second World War.

For world champions England, the build-up to the tournament took a bizarre turn when their captain was accused of theft. While England were in Colombia for a pre-tournament friendly, Bobby Moore was arrested for allegedly stealing a bracelet from a jeweller's shop. He was released on bail to allow him to appear in the World Cup finals, and the charges were later quietly dropped.

The best news for football fans everywhere in the run-up to the tournament came when Pelé announced that he would, after all, play for Brazil again. After being constantly fouled in the early stages of the 1966 tournament, during which he twice had to leave the field through injury, he'd announced his retirement from international football. Luckily for Brazil, he was persuaded to change his mind. It certainly proved to be the right decision.

The Tournament

The 1970 Brazil team was simply superb, with the great Pelé finding worthy team-mates in players like Jairzinho, Tostao, Rivelino and captain Carlos Alberto. They played thrilling, positive, flamboyant football.

They fell behind early in their opening game against Czechoslovakia, but fought back strongly and eventually won 4-1. Pelé scored one of their goals, but a goal attempt that narrowly missed is better remembered. Seeing Czech goalkeeper Ivo Viktor off his goal-line, Pelé attempted an outrageous long-range lob from inside the Brazil half of the field. The shot beat Viktor, but went narrowly wide.

Brazil's second group game, against England, is also best remembered for a Pelé near-miss. His powerful close-range downward header was kept out by an amazing save from Gordon Banks, who somehow managed to get down to the ball and flick it upwards and over the bar. In the end, a single Jairzinho goal was enough to win the game for Brazil.1 Romania ran Brazil close in their third game, but were finally beaten 3-2.

Brazil were able to shine because, thankfully, there was less foul play in Mexico than in the previous two World Cups. But there was some defensive, negative play. Group 2 of the opening round produced just six goals in six games. Italy won the group despite scoring only one goal in their three group matches, beating Sweden 1-0 before playing out goalless draws with Uruguay and Israel.

Morocco got off to a bright start, taking the lead against West Germany in their first match, but the Germans came back to win 2-1. West Germany also went behind against Bulgaria in their second match, but a Gerd Muller hat-trick helped them fight back to win 5-2. Muller hit another hat-trick in the Germans' last group game, scoring all their goals in a 3-1 win over Peru.

Despite that defeat, Peru qualified for the last eight. They'd previously come back from 2-0 down to beat Bulgaria 3-2, and then scored three times in 11 second-half minutes to beat Morocco 3-0.

The Soviet Union and Mexico comfortably dominated Group 1, the Mexicans getting through their three games without conceding a goal.

Peru's World Cup adventure ended in the quarter-finals, where they lost a highly entertaining game 4-2 to Brazil. The host nation also bowed out at the quarter-final stage. Mexico took the lead against Italy with a Jose Gonzales goal, but his team-mate Gustavo Pena equalised with an own goal before half-time. Italy then took over, and dominated the second half. Two goals from Luigi Riva and one from Gianni Rivera saw them go through 4-1. The game between Uruguay and the Soviet Union was goalless until five minutes from the end of extra time, when Victor Esparrago struck to send the South Americans through.

The tie of the round, though, was the one in Leon between England and West Germany. England suffered a serious blow before the game, when their great goalkeeper Gordon Banks was taken ill with food poisoning. His deputy Peter Bonetti stepped into the breach, and early in the second half all seemed to be going smoothly for England. Goals from Alan Mullery and Martin Peters put the defending champions into a 2-0 lead.

Then Bonetti was beaten by a fairly tame shot from Germany's Franz Beckenbauer, which Bonetti later admitted he should have saved. Two minutes later, in the 70th minute, England manager Alf Ramsey withdrew inspirational midfielder Bobby Charlton in order to try to conserve his energy for the semi-final. But the absence of Charlton made life much easier for the German midfielders. In the 76th minute, Uwe Seeler equalised. The game went into extra time - and 12 minutes from the end, Gerd Muller struck to put West Germany through and end England's reign as world champions.

The semi-finals produced one of the all-time great World Cup matches: an epic encounter between Italy and West Germany. It featured a particularly courageous performance from Franz Beckenbauer, who played despite a dislocated shoulder, his arm in a sling strapped to his body. Roberto Boninsegna put Italy ahead in the eighth minute, and it looked as though that would be enough to put Italy into the final. But in the 90th minute Karl-Heinz Schnellinger grabbed an equaliser for the Germans, and the game went into extra time.

Gerd Muller scored to put West Germany ahead. But then the Italians hit back through Tarcisio Burgnich and Luigi Riva to lead 3-2 at the half-way point in extra time. Muller headed home his tenth goal of the tournament with ten minutes remaining to bring the scores level, but a minute later Gianni Rivera scored to put Italy into the final.

In the other semi-final, Uruguay took the lead against Brazil with a 19th-minute strike from Luis Cubilla. But Clodoaldo equalised just before half-time, and Brazil took control in the second half, goals from Jairzinho and Rivelino seeing them through 3-1. The most memorable moment in the game came with another Pelé near-miss. He pushed the ball past Uruguay goalkeeper Ladislao Mazurkiewicz, then ran around the other side of the 'keeper to collect the ball, before sending an angled shot just wide of the Uruguay goal.

So Brazil met Italy in the final - which added an extra degree of importance to the match. FIFA rules said that the first team to win the Jules Rimet Cup three times would keep the trophy permanently - and both Italy and Brazil had won it twice before.

Italy had the best of the early exchanges, with Brazilian 'keeper Felix saving well from Luigi Riva. It was rather against the run of play when Pelé headed home from a Rivelino cross, to register Brazil's 100th goal in World Cup competition and give Brazil the lead. However, Italy were back on level terms before half-time. Roberto Boninsegna intercepted a careless pass from Clodoaldo and ran on to score the equaliser from just outside the penalty area.

Brazil dominated the second half right from the restart, and their reward came in the 66th minute with a left-footed strike from 20 yards by Gerson. Jairzinho made it 3-1 after 70 minutes, and captain Carlos Alberto sealed the victory with Brazil's fourth goal five minutes from the end.

After the final whistle, Pelé was carried from the pitch shoulder-high. Brazil captain Carlos Alberto collected the Jules Rimet Cup, and their coach Mario Zagallo became the first man to win the World Cup as both a player and a manager, and football fans the world over enthused about the beauty and power of Brazil and their 'samba soccer.'

Tournament Trivia

Brazil's third World Cup win meant that the Jules Rimet Cup should have been theirs for all time. Unfortunately, after they got it back to Brazil, the World Cup was stolen, just as it had been in London in 1966. This time, the trophy was never found, and the Brazilian FA were given a replica to display by FIFA.

The 1970 tournament was the first at which the referees were issued with yellow and red cards to signal cautions and dismissals. Happily, the red cards were redundant on this occasion, as no player behaved badly enough to be sent off2.

Jairzinho scored in every game that Brazil played in during the 1970 World Cup finals. He scored twice in their first group game against Czechoslovakia, then got one goal in every subsequent game up to and including the final. Remarkably, his seven goals only earned him second place on the list of the tournament's top goalscorers, as West Germany's Gerd Muller grabbed ten goals.

For The Record

Group 1
  P W D L F A Pts
Soviet Union 3210615
El Salvador3003090

Group 2
  P W D L F A Pts
Italy 3120104

Group 3
  P W D L F A Pts
Brazil 3300836

Group 4
  P W D L F A Pts
West Germany 33001046

Brazil 4 : 2 Peru

Italy 4 : 1 Mexico after extra time

West Germany 3 : 2 England after extra time

Uruguay 1 : 0 Soviet Union after extra time

Italy 4 : 3 West Germany after extra time

Brazil 3 : 1 Uruguay

Third Place Play-Off
West Germany 1 : 0 Uruguay

Brazil 4 : 1 Italy

Tournament Top Goalscorer
Muller (West Germany) - 10 goals

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1The England team's preparation for this game was hardly ideal. On the night before the match, Brazilian fans massed outside the England players' hotel. They chanted and sang all night, and generally did everything they could to try to ensure a sleepless night for the England side.2 Carlos Caszely of Chile had the dubious honour of becoming the first player to be shown the red card during a World Cup finals tournament in 1974.

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