Argentina-West Germany chosen by fans for the #WorldCupAtHome series
Intense decider 34 years ago today saw comeback dashed in frantic finale
Massive crowd at Azteca watched Maradona lift trophy
In 1986 Mexico played host to the 13th edition of the FIFA World Cup™. Considered one of the best of all time, the tournament served up intense encounters and fantastic goals that football fans still talk about to this day.
On 29 June, an expectant Azteca crowd sensed history in the making, and so it proved. With a huge attendance and wonderful atmosphere for a final between two former champions in Argentina and West Germany, all eyes were on Maradona.
In the end, it would be La Albiceleste’s delirious fans who saw their team crowned champions and their beloved captain lift football’s most coveted trophy.
[[flag-arg-s]] Argentina 3-2 West Germany [[flag-ger-s]]
29 June 1986 | Estadio Azteca, Mexico City (114,000 in attendance)
Goalscorers: Argentina: Jose Brown (23), Jorge Valdano (56), Jorge Burruchaga (84) West Germany: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (74), Rudi Voller (81)
Line-ups: Argentina: Nery Pumpido, Jose Brown, Jose Cuciuffo, Oscar Ruggeri, Sergio Batista, Ricardo Giusti, Julio Olarticoechea, Jorge Burruchaga (Marcelo Trobbiani 90’), Hector Enrique, Diego Maradona (c), Jorge Valdano
West Germany: Harald Schumacher, Ditmar Jakobs, Hans-Peter Briegel, Thomas Berthold, Andreas Brehme, Norbert Eder, Lothar Matthaus, Felix Magath (Dieter Hoeness 62’), Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (c), Klaus Allofs (Rudi Voller 45’)
Having lost the final of the previous edition four years earlier, West Germany were desperate to make amends for that bitter defeat. Furthermore, several of their ageing stars also wished to end their international careers on a high. However, the early games of _Die Mannschaf_t’s campaign at Mexico 1986 provided little to suggest that they would go all the way to the final. They narrowly avoided defeat in a 1-1 draw with Uruguay in their opener, then beat Scotland 2-1 before losing 2-0 to Denmark to qualify in second place from Group F. Things were not much better in the knockout rounds either; a late strike from Matthaus was required to see off Morocco in the Round of 16 and a penalty shootout needed to get past Mexico (0-0, 4-1) in the quarters, before a 2-0 triumph over France secured them a spot in the final.
For their part, Argentina arrived intent on making up for their early exit in 1982. Armed with self-belief and their inspirational captain Diego Maradona, La Albiceleste improved game by game. They began by beating Korea Republic 3-1, then drew 1-1 with holders Italy, before winning the group with a comfortable 2-0 defeat of Bulgaria. They kicked off the knockout phase with a 1-0 defeat of Uruguay before seeing off England 2-1 thanks to Maradona’s mesmerising solo run and finish. In the semis, they swept aside Belgium 2-0 to return to the final eight years after their 1978 triumph.
Brown's triumphant spirit: During the national anthem, the camera panned to the faces of the Argentinian players, who showed little emotion. The exception was defender Jose Brown, who lowered his head and wiped tears from his eyes. His emotions may well have been stirred by a combination of factors. First, he was a doubt to even take part in the tournament due to a succession of injuries sustained in the preceding years. Moreover, Carlos Bilardo came in for fierce criticism for including him in the squad under these circumstances. However, both of them proved their critics wrong, as Brown went on to have a stellar tournament and play in every game. When the national anthem finished before the final, the player took a step forward and, along with Maradona, shouted motivating words at his team-mates. Brown also left his mark on the game by jumping high to head home the opening goal, reinforcing his side’s belief that they could go on and win the title. Despite dislocating his shoulder before the end of the first half, the player refused to leave the pitch, improvising a sling by making a hole in his shirt. It truly was an epic performance from Brown.
Another German comeback: Throughout the history of the World Cup, Germany have produced many a comeback when all seemed lost. This final was no exception, with Die Mannschaft’s players continuing to believe and finally getting back on terms. While Argentina valiantly defended Pumpido’s goal, the European side hit back with two goals in just seven minutes as Rummenigge and Voller netted from two Brehme corners.
Dramatic finale: Just when it looked like the match was headed for extra time, Diego Maradona produced another moment of magic. Picking up the ball while surrounded by German defenders just inside his own half, he took one touch then split open the defence with a delightful ball to Burruchaga, who raced towards goal and fired in the winner.
After a string of fine performances en route to the final, Burruchaga produced another stellar display in the decider. His surging runs down both flanks caused opponents no end of trouble, leaving his markers for dead on many occasions. Furthermore, it was the No7 who sent over the cross from which Brown scored the opener. Then, amid all the tumult that followed Germany’s equaliser, Burruchaga had the wherewithal to anticipate Maradona’s pass as he raced forward. Pushing the ball ahead of him without breaking his stride, he somehow kept his composure with Briegel breathing down his neck to slide the ball under Schumacher and settle the tie once and for all.
"Yes, I didn’t touch the trophy during the celebrations, and I took off the medal that was around my neck. I was annoyed because they’d scored the same way against us twice, despite having repeatedly worked on that in training. They scored both goals from corners, and that was unacceptable. I felt dead inside for a moment." Carlos Bilardo, Argentina coach
"I have to admit that this was the best moment in my career. I touched the heavens by scoring the deciding goal. We had a fantastic game and went two-up, but they made a comeback. It was me who scored the winner with what was the most joyful goal of my career. It’s one that every player dreams of scoring." Jorge Burruchaga
"At the time we were too eager and careless. After I equalised for the 2-2, we absolutely wanted to win it in regular time instead of waiting for extra time. But Argentina deserved the win. They were the best side at the tournament and had the outstanding player in Maradona. It was a World Cup full of passion and emotions. The Azteca is still the world's most beautiful stadium, a temple of football, with over 100,000 spectators. I love this arena, even though it has aged a bit." Rudi Voller, Germany forward
Mexico 1986 will forever be associated with Diego Maradona. The Argentinian legend left an indelible mark on this tournament and deservedly won the adidas Golden Ball for the best player and the Sliver Boot as joint second-highest scorer (along with Careca and Emilio Butragueno).
He bagged five goals, just one less than Gary Lineker’s total and created another five, meaning he had a hand in ten of his side’s 14 goals. Moreover, he would draw two or more defenders to him whenever he touched the ball, creating space and openings for his team-mates to exploit.
No-one would dispute that Argentina have their No10 to thank in huge measure for that title. The photos of him raising the trophy aloft and later being carried by fans will forever be part of World Cup history.