1982 and beyond-alternate history of FIFA World Cups

One David, two Goliaths
  • Cameroon was less successful during second round, facing two South American giants. Cameroonians hold 0-0 draw with defending champion Argentina until 80 minute, but then lost 3 goals within just 9 minutes. Against Brazil Cameroon conceded goal early, and while African team was able to equalize, two further goals scored by Brazilians definitely ended Cameroon's hopes to advance to knock-out stage. Goal scored against Brazil by Abega meant, that Brazil had to win last match against Argentina, as Argentinians had better goal difference. Brazil was on good way to achieve that goal, taking 2-0 lead by 51 minute, but Argentinian team, despite being badly outmatched, managed to equalize, making use of two mistakes of Brazilian defense. Draw meant, that Argentina as winner of Group C advanced to Semi-Final to face Poland, winner of Group A.

    Results of Group C:

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    Szarmach na ratunek
  • 4 group winners of second phase of the tournament, which advanced to knock-out stage, were Poland, West Germany, Argentina and France.

    Poland, winner of group C, was considered as one of top football powers since 1974 World Cup, when Golden Generation of Polish players reached third place, losing only one match against host nation, infamous Match on the Water. But Poles' moods just before 1982 World Cup were not particulary good. Poland faced economical crisis and political turmoil, which affected also national football team. Near end of eliminations to Spanish tournament in aftermath of protests following Okęcie Airport affair, team's manager Ryszard Kulesza was fired and few key players-Zbigniew Boniek, Władysław Żmuda, Józef Młynarczyk, Stanisław Terlecki and Włodzimierz Smolarek, were suspended by Polish Football Federation. Most of them had their suspensions lifted eventually, thanks to intervention of new coach Antoni Piechniczek, but Terlecki, known for his anti-Communist stance, never played for Poland again.

    Poland, drawn into Group 1 with Italy, Cameroon and Peru, started tournament with two draws. Before last match with Peru players and members of staff expected, that for Poland World Cup is over. Staff members packed their stuff and were prepared to leave, some of them bought tropical fruits (not available in Poland at the time) to bring them home, but Piechniczek managed to motivate his players to give their best in last match. Poland defeated Peru 5-1 and advanced to second round, also successful-Poland defeated Belgium 3-0 after Boniek's hat-trick and then drew with Soviet Union, eliminating Soviet team thanks to better goal difference. Poland's matches happened to be problematic for censorship-transmissions were delayed and TV in Poland showed Spanish or Brazilian fans at stadiums instead of Polish ones (as the latter often were waving Solidarność flags).

    'Victorious' draw wasn't without costs-Boniek received second yellow card and could not play in semi-final match. There was player, who could take his place-Andrzej Szarmach, one of stars of 1974 World Cup, who score 5 goals on that tournament (including goal against Argentina, which Poland would face in Semi-final match at Camp Nou), top scorer of French Ligue A. Problem was Szarmach was conflicted with coach Piechniczek, who didn't want to let him play even in such dire situation, but after rethinking various options Piechniczek, after long hestitation, decided to give Szarmach one more chance... [1]


    Andrzej Szarmach (first from the left) at 1974 World Cup .

    [1] IOTL Piechniczek didn't let Szarmach play until third-place play-off. Szarmach scored goal in that match and ended his international carrier after tournament, due to his sour relations with coach. ITTL things would go a bit better for Szarmach, and for Polish national team too...
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    Szarmach raz, Szarmach dwa
  • Semi-final match between Poland and Argentina wasn't particulary good, both sides played below their capabilities, especially Poland, which conceaded goal in 22 minute and remained one goal down for most of the match. Situation changed 20 minute before end of match, with Szarmach, man, who could score out of nothing, equalized with header after receiving long pass from Kupcewicz. Just 3 minutes later Szarmach scored second goal, which was not only most important but also one of most beautiful in his career. Szarmach's goals revived Polish team after long period of dull performance. With no more goals scored in that match, Poland advanced to the final, surprassing achievement of 1974 team, that won bronze medal in Germany. And despite fact, that Boniek would return for final match after suspension, it would be hard for coach Piechniczek to not let Szarmach play after his goals gave Poland advance.

    Semi-final, World Cup 1982

    Night of Seville
  • Second semi final match, featuring France and West Germany, was rich in goals and dramaturgy. After 1 - 1 draw in regulation time extra time was needed to decide, who'd face Poland in final. France started extra time better, taking 3- 1 lead thanks to goals of Trésor and Battiston [1], but the same player, who scored third goal for France also allowed West Germany to come back, as for his handball German team was given penalty, converted by Breitner, and Germans eventually equalized thanks to Rummenigge's goal. Penalty shoot-out that followed was won 5-4 by West Germany.


    [1] As you may noticed-Schumacher's raid does not happen in this match.
    For Bronze medal and Golden Boot
  • Argentina failed to defend title won 4 years earlier, but managed to defeat France, demoralised and tried after narrow loss in two hour long battle against West Germany. Diego Maradona, who scored two goals in that match, found consolation in the fact, that with 6 goals scored he became best scorer of the tournament.

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    Schumacher, what have you done????
  • Poland and West Germany faced each other at World Cup third time in row. Previous matches ended in German victory in 1974 and draw in 1978.

    Poland never defeated West German team before, and it seemed that fact would not change on 11 July 1982 at Santiago Bernabeu. West Germany took lead in 43 minute and created more situations than Poland, but 30 minutes before end of regulation time German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher made mistake, that propably costed his team title. Schumacher rammed Polish midfielder Kupcewicz outside penalty box, running for a ball, which he had not chance to catch. Kupcewicz lost consciousness and lost few teeths, he was taken away from the field and Włodzimierz Ciołek took his place. Schumacher for his foul was send off, as first goalkeeper at World Cup [1].

    Reduced to 10 men Germans tried to hold the lead until final whistle, but Boniek, who returned after suspension, scored equalizer in 84 minute. Regulation time ended with 1-1 draw and extra time was needed to decide, who would win the tournament. German team was losing steam, being outnumbered and tried after having to play extra time against France 3 days earlier. Poland exploited problems of opponents during extra time-Poland took lead thanks to goal of substitute Ciołek, and then Szarmach scored his third goal at tournament, convincing coach Piechniczek, that national team really needs him. Against all odds, at the time, when Poland faced masive crisis, with martial law imposed few months earlier, golden generation of Polish football achieved its last and biggest success.

    Harald Schumacher was blamed for defeat in Germany and never played in national team again.

    World Cup Final

    [1] I've mentioned, that Schumacher's raid does not happen during semi-final, but not that it does not happen at all...
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    Mexico 1986-13th FIFA World Cup
  • mxx.png

    Logo of 1986 World Cup, designed by Rubén Santiago Hernández.

    13th edition of FIFA World Cup was hosted by Mexico, after Colombia, originaly choosen as host, widthrew from organizing tournament due to economic costs. Mexico hosted World Cup in 1970, so needed infrastructure from previous tournament played on Mexican soil could be re-used.
    FIFA kept format with 24 teams, but this time second group stage was replaced by knockout round of 16 teams.

    24 qualified teams were divided into 6 groups. Before final draw these teams were placed in 4 pots, with host, top 4 of previous tournament and Brazil as seeded teams:


    Have you noticed some subtle differences compared to OTL? ;)
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    Group Stage, part 1
  • Mexican tournament started with surprising 0-1 defeat of defending champion Poland by East German team, returning to World Cup after 12 years long absence. Two days later Italians, looking for redemption for poor performance in 1982, defeated South Korea 3 - 2. Italians defeated later also Poland and were close to winning Group A, but conceaded injury time goal while playing against East Germany. East Germany, equal on points with Italy but with better goal difference, surprisingly won the group. Poland struggled to secure advance after two loses, but 2-0 victory against South Korea happened to be enough to advance to Round of 16 from third place.

    Table and results of group A

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    Group Stage, part 2
  • Group B is unchanged (Mexico won, Paraguay was runner-up, Belgium third, Iraq fourth), so let's go to Group C.

    France and England, just like 4 years earlier in Spain, faced each other during group stage. France and England clearly dominated Group C, defeating Hungary and Canada and drawing with each other. France finished group stage with clean sheet, England conceaded one goal-Terry Butcher's own goal against Canada. Butcher thus accidentally became Canada's first scorer at World Cup. Thanks to better goal difference England won the group, France was runner up. Hungary and debutant Canada failed to advance.

    g a.png
    Group stage, part 3
  • First two matches in Group E-West Germany vs Uruguay and Scotland vs Denmark, ended with 1 -1 draws, with both Scotland and West Germany coming from behind few minutes before end of their matches. Second round of games brought West Germany's 2-1 victory over Scotland and shocking 6-1 devastation of Uruguay by Denmark. Denmark won also third match, defeating West Germany 2-0 and surprisingly winning the group. Uruguay desperately needed victory over Scotland to avoid last place in the group, which was not easy after Batista was send off just after minute of play. Uruguay was getting more and more frustrated, and also more brutal. After Cabrera was send off too, playing 11 against 9, Scotland scored 3 goals in 17 minutes. Uruguay was eliminated, with 1 point, two goals scored and 10 coneded. Scotland for the first time advanced past group stage. Equal on points with West Germany, but with better goal difference, Scotland finished as runner-up of Group E.

    table 1.png
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    Group stage, part 4
  • Group E featured third team of previous World Cup-Argentina, and Soviet Union, Morocco and Portugal, returning to the tournament after 20 years.

    In first round of matches Argentina for long time struggled to break solid Moroccan defense, until Maradona scored wonderful goal in 85 minute and added one more during injury time. Soviet Union, thanks to Belanov's hat-trick, defeated Portugal 3-2. Next round brought two draws-goalless draw between Soviet Union and Morocco and 1-1 draw between Argentina and Portugal. Argentina won group F thanks to 2-1 victory over Soviet Union in the last round, Morocco meanwhile defeated Portugal 3-1, becoming second African nation to advance past first group stage. Soviet Union had same number of points and identical goal difference, but thanks to more goals scored Soviet Union finished as runner-up.

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    Round of 16
  • table 1.png

    With teams from groups A, B, E and F advancing from third place pairs of Round of 16 looks like this:

    East Germany vs West Germany (you think what I needed East Germany at this tournament for ;) ?)

    Paraguay vs Soviet Union

    Denmark vs Spain

    England vs Belgium

    Brazil vs Morocco

    Italy vs France

    Argentina vs Scotland

    Mexico vs Poland

    Your predictions?
    Round of 16
  • Lets start with harshest (for me) part

    First match of knockout stage ended with victory of host nation over defending champion. Mexico won 2-1 with Poland, reduced to10 men after Ostrowski was send off in 70 minute, after extra time.

    Match between England and Belgium played on the same day was one of the most exciting matches at the tournament. England defeated Belgium 4-3 thanks to penalty converted by Lineker (who thus completed hat-trick) near end of extra time.

    Next day brought Brazil's narrow victory over Morocco. Brazilians needed 88 minutes to break tough Moroccan defense, but eventually prevailed thanks to Socrates' goal.

    Match between West and East Germany also was thrilling. East Germans, like usual, gave their best playing more titled West German team and came from behind twice. West Germany eventually won 3-2, taking revenge for 1974 loss (although many believed, that West Germans lost match with East Germany in 1974 intentionally, to avoid Netherlands in next round).

    France defeated Italy 2-0 thanks to goals of Platini (that is OTL story) and Argentina, like expected, decisively won with ambitious Scotland, which managed only to score consolation goal in 86 minute.

    Last matches of Round of 16 ended with Soviet Union's 2-0 victory over Paraguay-Belanov, who scored both goals, almost completed second hat-trick at the Tournament, as ball after his shot in last action hit the post.

    Denmark, which surprisingly won group E, was disappointment (although not as much as IOTL, 2-4 loss looks much better than 1-5)of next round and after 2-4 defeat with Spain was eliminated from the tournament.

    Round of 16

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  • First Quarter-final match between France and Brazil was also first one decided by penalties. Francewon penalty shoot-out after 1-1 draw and advanced to semi-final, to face Argentina, which on the same day defeated Mexico 1-0, not without problems and not without controversial decision of referee, who favoured hosts.

    Day later West Germany defeated Soviet Union 2-1 after extra time. Victorious goal was scored by Littbarski during very first minute of extra time. Minutes, when goals were scored (41' for Germany and 45' for Soviet Union) were sources of allusions to ww2, just like the fact, that match was played on 22 June (45th anniversary of Operation Barbarossa). Goal for Soviet Union was scored by Andriy Bal, it was his second goal scored for national team, previous one also was scored at World Cup (against Brazil in 1982).

    England defeated Spain 1-0 thanks to goal scored by Wilkins, who was send off 15 minutes later. England, reduced to ten men, survived until last whistle despite Spain's numerous sttempts to equalize. Shilton's incredible saves kept England in game.


    table c.png
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  • France has not shined against Argentina as it shined against Brazil, but thanks to Platini took the lead in 49 minute. Argentina soon equalized the score after Maradona's controversial goal-Argentina's captain used his hand to control the ball before he scored equalizing goal. Referee has not noticed it and ruled Maradona's goal legitimate, despite protests of French team [1]. Fact, that referee was Italian gave rise to assumptions, that he helped Argentina to defeat France as revenge for Italy's loss to France in Round of 16. Maradona later scored second goal, this time undoubtedly legitimate, which brought Argentina to the final.

    Second semi-final match ended with 1-1 draw and was decided by penalties, won by West German team. All German players converted their penalties, while on English side only Lineker has not missed. England, like in 1982, was eliminated from champion's path without losing single match and wasn't even for minute goal down during whole tournament [2].


    [1] So not exactly Hand of God, rather something like Thierry Henry's goal vs Ireland in 2010

    [2] England, Germany and penalties-what should we expect?
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    Third place play-off
  • England and France, teams, that faced each other in group stage before, met again in third place play-off. It was their third encounter at World Cup level, as they shared group also at Spanish tournament in 1982. France, playing without Platini, was defeated 2-3. Gary Lineker, who scored 2 goals in that match and 8 in total, received Golden Boot as best scorer at the tournament.

    Frequent encounters between France and England at World Cups became widely known as Hundred Years' War [1]


    [1] That is not the last encounter. I guess France-England football rivalry would be much stronger ITTL as result.
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  • Final of 1986 World Cup, played at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on 29 June, was exciting match with more goals scored than in any other final since Brazil's 5-2 victory over Sweden in 1958. Argentina took 2-0 lead after goals of Brown and Valdano, but thanks to Rummenigge and Voller West Germany came from behind. Argentina had chance to regain the lead in 86 minute, but Burruchaga missed minimally. Regulation time ended with 2-2 draw and extra time was needed to decide who'd win the tournament. For West Germany it was third match in row, which eneded with extra time, while for Argentina it was first extra time at that World Cup and soon it became visible.

    Burruchanga redeemed himself for 86 minute miss and gave Argentina lead near end of first half of extra time, five minutes later action of Maradona and Valdano ended with goal scored by the latter, West Germany responded with consolation goal scored in last action of the match by Magath. Argentina defeated West Germany 4-3 and won World Cup for second time



    Argentinian players celebrating victory in World Cup final.
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    World Cup 1986-summary
  • Final positions:

    Argentina (2nd title)
    West Germany

    Best player:

    Diego Maradona

    Top scorer:

    Gary Lineker (8 goals)
    Coppa del Mondo Italia '90
  • 1990 tournament, hosted for the second time in history by Italy, also featured 24 teams divided into 6 groups. Host nation, top 4 teams of previous tournament and Brazil were seeded teams [1]. Italy hoped to win World Cup played on home soil and regain title of world champion after long 52 years of misfortune.

    Seedings of 1990 World Cup [2]


    [1] Atl least England's seeding would not be that controversial as IOTL, as England is third team of previous tournament. Group E, where England is automatically relocated, would obviously play all matches in Sardinia. @Ruperto Pesto mentioned, that Havelange FIFA wanted Brazil-Italy and Germany Argentina in semi-finals, thus Brazil in group C. Argentina failed to win her group, thus whole plan also failed, ITTL one of that Big Four also would upset FIFA, but this time it would not be Argentina...

    [2] This time there are few more changes than East Germany instead of Bulgaria...
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