Great World Cup finals are surprisingly easy to come by when you look back through the tattered pages of the tournament’s history. Given what’s at stake, you would imagine that these games would be been tense, tight affairs — admittedly, the last few have been pretty abrasive contests—but overall, there have been some wonderfully gripping showpieces.
One of the best came in 1986, when West Germany met Argentina. The narrative ahead of that clash is pretty comparable to the one in the build-up to the 2014 final, where the Germans and Argentineans will do battle again: a formidable team trying to contain an XI heavily reliant on one of the all-time great players.
That man was Diego Maradona of course, and much of the pre-match chatter ahead of the final 28 years ago was to with how Franz Beckenbauer’s team were going to contain him. After all, El Diez had bagged a brace against England in the quarter-final and then another against Belgium in the semis; Maradona was looking irrepressible.
The Germans had been far from impressive in the tournament, although there were inklings that Beckenbauer’s team were beginning to grow as a unit. They unconvincingly edged past both Morocco and hosts Mexico in the last-16 and quarter-final respectively, although a dominant 2-0 win over the French in the semis looked to have given this team some much needed momentum ahead of the final.
It was a clash that festered a buzz in the build-up. How could the Germans stifle Maradona? Would Beckenbauer’s side continue to grow into the tournament? Would the team or the individual emerge victorious?
All the questions were answered in front of 114,600 people at the iconic Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. If we get a final on Sunday that is half as good as this one, we’re in for a treat:
Match: West Germany vs. Argentina
Competition: 1986 World Cup
Date: June 29, 1986
Stadium: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City
Here’s the full 90 minutes of the game:
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