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
There was a major change to the World Cup format for the 1982 tournament. For the first time, 24 teams rather than 16 took part in the finals.
Obviously, this required some adjustments to the structure of the tournament. There were six groups of four teams in the first round, with the top two in each going through to the second round. The 12 surviving teams were then put into four groups of three, and the winners of those groups went forward to the semi-finals.
The extra eight places available in the finals enabled FIFA to organise the most genuinely cosmopolitan World Cup finals yet. They allocated 13 of the places in the tournament to Europe, three to South America, two to Africa, two to Asia/Oceania, and two to Central and North America. In addition, Spain qualified automatically as the host nation, and Argentina as World Cup holders.
There was another key innovation in the 1982 tournament. It was the first World Cup to feature a penalty shoot-out. This method of settling drawn games involves the teams taking it in turns to take penalties, with the team that scores most goals from five attempts winning the match1. If the teams are still level after taking five penalties each, then the penalty shoot-out enters the 'sudden death' phase. In this phase, if the team who took the first penalty scores, then the team going second must also score or lose the match. However, if the team going first fails to score, then the side going second need only convert their next penalty to win the match. The players who are on the pitch at the end of the game must take the penalties, and no player can take a second penalty unless the shoot-out goes on for so long that everyone in his team has taken one.
Penalty shoot-outs are hard on the nerves of players, managers and fans, and particularly cruel for the player who misses and costs his team the match. But for sheer drama, they're hard to beat.
The first round of the 1982 World Cup produced some fine football and some real surprises. It's a pity, then, that the game which made most impact was one that caused so much outrage that FIFA changed the rules for future World Cups to ensure that nothing similar could ever happen again.
In the opening game in Group 2, Algeria pulled off one of the all-time great World Cup upsets by beating West Germany 2-1. Rabah Madjer gave them a 54th-minute lead. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge equalised midway through the second half, but Lakhdar Belloumi restored Algeria's lead a minute later. This time, the West Germans had no answer.
West Germany redeemed themselves in their next match, a Rummenigge hat-trick helping them to beat Chile 4-1. Austria also beat Chile, and then overcame Algeria. But on 24 June, Algeria raced into a 3-0 half-time lead in their final group game against Chile. The South Americans staged a second-half fight-back, but Algeria held on to win 3-2.
That left a complicated situation in advance of the final game in the group, between West Germany and Austria on 25 June. A draw or a win for Austria would eliminate West Germany and send Austria and Algeria through to the second round. A win for the West Germans by a margin of three goals or more would knock out Austria, and send West Germany and Algeria through. Significantly, however, a West German win by one or two goals would suit both the teams taking part in the last group game, allowing both of them to progress and eliminating the giant-killers from Algeria.
The game in Gijon began conventionally enough, with West Germany attacking strongly. They soon made a breakthrough when Horst Hrubesch gave them the lead in the tenth minute. And then both teams seemed to stop trying. For the remaining 80 minutes, they simply passed the ball around listlessly, often slowing to walking pace, with neither side making any serious attempt to score. The crowd, which included many Algerians, whistled and jeered furiously, but the farcical match was played out to achieve the result that suited both sides - a narrow West German win. Despite their two wins, Algeria were eliminated on goal difference.
Naturally, there were furious protests from the Algerians at what looked like an obvious case of collusion. But, in the absence of any proof of wrong-doing, there was little that FIFA could do to remedy the situation. What they did do, however, was to change the arrangements for future World Cups so that the final round of games in a group would be played simultaneously, thus making it impossible for opposing teams to contrive mutually-convenient results.
Group 5 provided a story of gallant underdogs with a happier ending. Northern Ireland qualified for the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958, and began their campaign with two draws: a goalless encounter with Yugoslavia and a 1-1 draw with Honduras. They went into their last group match knowing that a win would get them through to the second round. The trouble was that the match they had to win was against the hosts, Spain. To say the least, Northern Ireland had a difficult task. But they defended stoutly, frustrated the Spanish team and reached half-time with the score at 0-0.
Then, in the second minute of the second half, the Spanish goalkeeper Arconada failed to hold on to a shot. The ball ran loose in the penalty area, and Gerry Armstrong gleefully fired it into the net. The home crowd were stunned. Spain fought back, and Northern Ireland's task became even harder when Mal Donaghy was sent off. The last ten minutes or so were played almost entirely in the Northern Irish half of the field, as the hosts frantically tried to find a way through to goal - but Northern Ireland held firm for a sensational victory, and progressed into the second round as group winners. Spain just barely survived, tying with Yugoslavia on points and goal difference but going through because they'd scored one more goal than the Yugoslavs.
England qualified for the finals for the first time in 12 years, and got through the first round with a 100 per cent record. Two Bryan Robson goals and one from Paul Mariner helped England beat France 3-1, and then a Trevor Francis strike and an own goal were enough to beat Czechoslovakia 2-0. Kuwait gave England a tough test, but Francis managed to score the only goal of the game.
Meanwhile, Scotland missed out on progress to the second round on goal difference for the third time in three World Cups. Their campaign began brightly with a 5-2 win over New Zealand. In their next match, the Scots took the lead against Brazil with a David Narey goal, but finally lost 4-1. A win against the Soviet Union in their third group game would have seen Scotland through to the second round, and they led at half-time via a 15th-minute goal from Joe Jordan. But in the second half, Aleksandr Chivadze equalised for the Soviets before Ramaz Sheneglia put them ahead in the 84th minute. Graeme Souness scored for Scotland with five minutes left, but the game ended in a 2-2 draw, and the Scots had another hard luck story to tell.
Cameroon made their first appearance in the World Cup finals, and the 'Indomitable Lions' lived up to their nickname, going through their three first round games unbeaten. The trouble was that they were never conquering lions: they drew all three matches. Amazingly, five of the six games played in Group 1 were drawn: Poland's 4-1 win over Peru was the only decisive result in the group, and so put the Poles into the second round. Italy also drew all three of their group games, and stayed in the tournament only because they'd scored one more goal than Cameroon.
Hungary ran up the highest score ever recorded in a World Cup finals match2 match when they thrashed El Salvador 10-1 - but they still went out in the first round, after losing to Argentina and drawing with Belgium. The Belgians won Group 1 after beating Argentina 1-0 with a goal from Erwin Vandenbergh.
Having scraped through the first stage somewhat fortuitously, Italy began to look much more convincing in the second round. In second round Group C, Italy beat Argentina 2-1, and Brazil then beat the Argentinians 3-1, helped by the fact that a young Argentinian player by the name of Diego Maradona got himself sent off. That set up a showdown between Brazil and Italy that produced a classic match.
The hero was someone who had previously been a villain. Paolo Rossi had served a two-year suspension after being found guilty of match-fixing. He'd been under attack in the Italian press after some indifferent performances in the first round. But against Brazil, he was brilliant. Rossi put Italy ahead in the fifth minute, but Socrates equalised seven minutes later. Rossi struck again in the 25th minute, and Brazil pressed hard for an equaliser. Time and again they were denied by Italy's veteran goalkeeper and captain Dino Zoff. Italy held out until midway through the second half, when Falcao brought the scores level again. Rossi then completed his hat-trick in the 74th minute. In the frantic closing minutes of the game, both teams got the ball in the net, but both 'goals' were disallowed by the referee. Finally, Zoff pulled off an amazing save right at the end. Brazil had been beaten 3-2, and Italy were in the semi-finals.
Poland beat Belgium 3-0 thanks to a Zbigniew Boniek hat-trick. The Soviet Union also beat Belguim, but only by 1-0. So when the final Group A game between the Soviets and the Poles ended 0-0, Poland were through to the semi-finals on goal difference.
But goalless draws didn't help England, who played out 0-0 stalemates with both West Germany and Spain. Those results meant that West Germany's 2-1 win over Spain was enough to put them into the semi-finals.
Northern Ireland's adventure remained alive until the final game in Group D. France beat Austria 1-0 in the first game, and then Northern Ireland and Austria drew 2-2, with Billy Hamilton getting both the Northern Irish goals. A win in the last game in the group would have put Northern Ireland in the semi-finals, but France proved too strong for them, winning 4-1 to claim a semi-final place.
Paolo Rossi again came to the fore in the semi-finals, scoring both goals as Italy beat Poland 2-0. The other semi-final, between France and West Germany, was another truly classic World Cup match.
West Germany began strongly, and Pierre Littbarski put them ahead with a great strike from outside the penalty area in the 17th minute. Within ten minutes France levelled through a penalty converted by their captain Michel Platini. The scores were level at half-time.
Unfortunately, the main talking point of the second half was an ugly incident involving French substitute Patrick Battiston and West German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher. Battiston had been on the field for around ten minutes when a great pass from Platini put him through with only Schumacher to beat. The 'keeper rushed out of his penalty area and clattered heavily into Battiston, knocking the French player unconscious. To the astonishment of the French team and most of the spectators, the referee saw nothing wrong with the challenge, and didn't even award a free kick. Schumacher's attitude further provoked the crowd. As Battiston received urgent medical attention before being carried off on a stretcher, still unconscious, the West German goalkeeper showed no concern, and walked away to do some stretching exercises. For the remainder of the game, Schumacher's every touch of the ball was greeted with whistles and booing.
Both teams came close to winning the game in the last minutes before extra time. A shot from France's Manuel Amoros hit the bar, and the West Germans forced the French goalkeeper Jean-Luc Ettori to make some fine saves to keep his team in the match. But when the 90 minutes were up, the score was still 1-1.
In the second minute of extra time, Marius Trésor put the French 2-1 up. Then Alain Giresse made it 3-1 with a strike from the edge of the box, and it looked very much as though France were heading for the final. But the West Germans refused to give up, and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge pulled a goal back for them just before the break in extra time. Then, in the 18th minute of extra time, Klaus Fischer scored the equaliser with a stunning bicycle kick. There were no more goals, and it was time for the first-ever penalty shoot-out in a World Cup finals tournament.
Alain Giresse converted the first penalty for France, but the West German captain Manfred Kaltz equalised. Manuel Amoros for France, Paul Breitner for West Germany and Dominique Rocheteau for France all succeeded with their spot-kicks - but then French 'keeper Ettori saved from Uli Stielike.
France had the upper hand once again - but then Didier Six failed with his shot from the spot. Littbarski, Platini and Rummenigge all converted their penalties, and the shoot-out was tied at 4-4 after each team had taken five penalties. The shoot-out went into the sudden-death phase - and then French defender Maxime Bossis struck a weak penalty that Schumacher comfortably saved. It fell to Horst Hrubesch to try to win the match, and he kept his nerve to beat Ettori. After an epic semi-final, West Germany were through to the 1982 World Cup Final.
Antonio Cabrini achieved an unwanted distinction in the final, by becoming the first man ever to miss a penalty in a World Cup final. But his failure from the penalty spot didn't deny the Italians for long. In the 57th minute, Paolo Rossi put the Italians ahead. It was his sixth goal of the tournament, making him the leading scorer of the Spain 1982 World Cup.
Italy's dominance grew throughout the second half. Marco Tardelli scored their second goal midway through the half, and with ten minutes left Alessandro Altobelli made it 3-0. Two minutes later Paul Breitner scored for West Germany, but it was no more than a consolation goal. Italy won 3-1, and Italy's 40-year-old goalkeeper and captain Dino Zoff was presented with the World Cup.
The 1982 World Cup featured one of the most bizarre incidents in any World Cup: the strange case of the royal pitch invasion. It happened after the Kuwait team walked off the pitch during their game against France, following an argument over a refereeing decision.
France were leading 3-1 when Alain Giresse put the ball in the net with the Kuwaiti defenders standing and watching. They insisted that they'd stopped playing because they'd heard the referee blow his whistle. The Kuwaiti FA president, Prince Fahid, then came on to the field from his seat in the stands and protested furiously.
Amazingly, the referee finally accepted the royal command and disallowed the goal. The Kuwaitis then agreed to complete the match, and France won 4-1. The Prince was subsequently fined £8,000 by FIFA, but losing that amount probably didn't greatly trouble one of the richest men in the world.
For The Record
Italy 2 : 0 Poland
West Germany 3 : 3 France after extra time
(West Germany won 5-4 on penalties)
Third Place Play-Off
Poland 3 : 2 France
Italy 3 : 1 West Germany
Tournament Top Goalscorer
Rossi (Italy) - 6 goals
Other Entries in This Project
- The Football World Cup - An Introduction
- Football World Cup, 1930, Uruguay
- Football World Cup, 1934, Italy
- Football World Cup, 1938, France
- Football World Cup, 1950, Brazil
- Football World Cup, 1954, Switzerland
- Football World Cup, 1958, Sweden
- Football World Cup, 1962, Chile
- Football World Cup, 1966, England
- Football World Cup, 1970, Mexico
- Football World Cup, 1974, West Germany
- Football World Cup, 1978, Argentina
- Football World Cup, 1986, Mexico
- Football World Cup, 1990, Italy
- Football World Cup, 1994, USA
- Football World Cup, 1998, France
- Football World Cup, 2002, Japan and South Korea