The 1982 World Cup was hosted by Spain, and it was the first time the competition featured 24 countries, an increase from the 16 of earlier tournaments. This increase had been planned by FIFA President Joao Havelange as a way to increase the numbers of African and Asian teams in the competition. This increase was also viewed favourably by many European football associations as well, as some of the extra places would also be allocated to European teams, making it easier for the likes of England to qualify.

The format

The 24 competing teams were split into 6 groups of 4, with the teams in each group playing in a round robin format. After each team had played the others in their group once the two leading teams would go forward to the next stage. Now the twelve remaining teams would be allocated a place in one of 4 groups of 3, and again each team would play it's group members only once. The top team in each of these four groups would progress to the semi-finals whereupon the tournament would revert to a straight forward knock-out competition.

The difficulties of selecting a winner out of a group of 3 was problematic. It would not inconceivable for the three games in a group to all result in scoreless draws. Who would progress in such a scenario? FIFA annouced that the cuntry with the best record in the first round would qualify, but in the event this situation did not qualify, and this unwieldly format would be ditched in the next world cup in Mexico.

The venues

Matches were held at 17 stadiums spread throughout Spain.

	Group I						

Italy        0 0  Poland       (Vigo)
Peru         0 0  Cameroon     (La Coruna)
Italy        1 1  Peru         (Vigo)
Poland       0 0  Cameroon     (La Coruna)
Poland       5 1  Peru         (La Coruna)
Italy        1 1  Cameroon     (Vigo)

Poland          3  1  2  0  5  1  4      
Italy           3  0  3  0  2  2  3      
Cameroon        3  0  3  0  1  1  3 
Peru            3  0  2  1  2  6  2  

The opening two games were dull scoreless draws with the Poland - Italy encounter, a reprise of a notorious game in the 1974 World Cup, particularly disappointing. Zbigniew Boniek and Paolo Rossi would both belie their subsequent form with awful games, the only sniff of a goal came when Marco Tardelli hit the crossbar. Poland would also record a scoreless draw in their next game with Cameroon.

Meanwhile A goal was sighted when winger Bruno Conti scored for Italy against Peru, who were later denied a stone wall penalty, but for justice's sake managed to equalise in the last minutes of the game. Poland finally woke up in their final game, comprehensively outplaying and beating Peru, while an Italian draw with Cameroon managed to sneak Italy into the next phase at the expense of the unfortunate, unbeaten Cameroon team. Even more galling was the fact that only a slip by the Cameroon keeper Thomas N'Kono handed Italy their goal.

	Group II						

West Germany  1 2  Algeria      (Gijon)
Chile         0 1  Austria      (Oviedo)
West Germany  4 1  Chile        (Gijon)
Algeria       0 2  Austria      (Oviedo)
Algeria       3 2  Chile        (Oviedo)
West Germamy  1 0  Austria      (Gijon)

West Germany   3  2  0  1  6  3  4      
Austria        3  2  0  1  3  1  4      
Algeria        3  2  0  1  5  5  4 
Chile          3  0  0  3  3  8  0 

A surprise here with Algeria beating West Germany, in a game played under intense heat in Gijon. Algeria had some talented players such as Lakdhar Belloumi who set up Algeria's opening game with an elegant chip over Harald Schumacher. West Germany did have the lion's share of play but could only score an equaliser before Algeria got the winner through Belloumi. Austria beat Chile one-nil, with the Chilean Carlos Caszely missing a penalty.

Algeria's tactics against Austria would prove to be not as effective as against the Germans, and Austria breezed through to the second round with two straight wins. West Germany atoned for their loss with a demolition of Chile. Algeria's game against Chile was played next, and despite an Algerian win, their goal difference conspired to hand the Germans and Austrians a chance to both qualify.

If West Germany won one nil, both teams would qualify. What took place for 90 minutes was less a game of football and more of an Anschluss, after an early German goal, both teams failed to compete or create convincing chances. The Algerians were outraged and protested but FIFA did not react. However in future competitions the deciding final group games would kick-off at the same time.

	Group III						

Argentina      0 1  Belgium      (Nou Camp, Barcelona)
Hungary       10 1  El Salvador  (Elche)
Argentina      4 1  Hungary      (Alicante)
Belgium        1 0  El Salvador  (Eiche)
Belgium        1 1  Hungary      (Eiche)
Argentina      2 0  El Salvador  (Alicante)

Belgium       3  2  1  0  3  1  5      
Argentina     3  2  0  1  6  2  4      
Hungary       3  1  1  1 12  6  3 
El Salvador   3  0  0  3  1 13  0  

The opening game of the tournament featured holders Argentina against Belgium. Surprisingly the Belgians won, with Mario Kempes, the hero of 78 looking out of form and the young much fancied playmaker Diego Maradona was nullified by the Belgian midfield. Maradona showed much better form, scoring two goals in Argentina's next match against a Hungarian team that had stormed ten goals against a poor El Salvador.

Belgium on the other hand struggled to beat El Salvador, who had reverted to an extremely defensive formation after their opening humiliation. They eventually beat the central Americans, and a draw in their last match against Hungary was enough to send Belgium through to the next round with Argentina.

	Group IV						

England         3 1  France          (Bilbao)
Czechoslovakia  1 1  Kuwait          (Valladolid)
England         2 0  Czechoslovakia  (Bilbao)
France          4 1  Kuwait          (Valladolid)
France          1 1  Czechosloavaia  (Valladolid)
England         1 0  Kuwait          (Bilbao)

England         3  3  0  0  6  1  6      
France          3  1  1  1  6  5  3      
Czechoslovakia  3  0  2  1  2  4  3 
Kuwait          3  0  1  2  2  6  1 

England made an explosive start to this World Cup, with Bryan Robson opening the scoring against France after only 27 seconds, a World Cup record for quickest goal scored in a match which would stand until 2002. France managed an equaliser but another Robson goal handed the impetus back to England and a comfortable victory. Unfortunately in the next game against Czechoslovakia the injury-prone Robson suffered a groin strain and for the remainder of the tournament the England team would fail to excel.

The France - Kuwait game featured the most bizarre moment of the competition. Approaching the end of a game dominated by France and Michel Platini in particular, Alain Giresse slotted the ball in the net to extend the French lead. The Kuwait defence had been frozen still while Giresse scored; a whistle blown from the stands had fooled them. The Kuwaiti team protested against the goal, and Prince Fahid of the Kuwaiti FA beckoned his team off the pitch. But as his team left the pitch, abandoning the game the prince had a change of heart and the match was completed, but only after the referee had disallowed Giresse's goal!

France still had to battle through a draw with Czechoslovakia to qualify, and nearly went out, having to rely on defender Manuel Amoros to head off his own goal line in injury time to avoid defeat.

	Group V						

Spain         1 1  Honduras          (Valencia)
Yugoslavia    0 0  Northern Ireland  (Zaragoza)
Spain         2 1  Yugoslavia        (Valencia)
Honduras      1 1  Northern Ireland  (Zaragoza)
Honduras      0 1  Yugoslavia        (Zaragoza)
Spain         0 1  Northern Ireland  (Valencia)

Northern Ireland 3  1  2  0  2  1  4      
Spain            3  1  1  1  3  3  3      
Yugoslavia       3  1  1  1  2  4  3 
Honduras         3  0  2  1  2  3  2  

As hosts, Spain enjoyed all the advantages that come with this particular honour, and with a weak team they were needed. In their opening game they came close to being embarrassed by Honduras, having to rely on a dubious penalty to salvage a draw. Elsewhere, the seventeen year old Norman Whiteside was about to break Pele's record as the youngest player in a World Cup finals match, as he lined up in Northern Ireland's opening fixture against Yugoslavia. Not one to be intimidated, soon Whiteside was also the youngest player ever to receive a yellow card.

Spain continued to toil but managed to defeat Yugoslavia in their next game, again with the help of a penalty, although this one was far more justified. Honduras continued their good form by coming back to grab a draw after Northern Ireland had taken an early lead through a Gerry Armstrong goal. Going into the final pair of games, all 4 countries still had a sniff of qualification.

In a hot night in Valencia, Northern Ireland beat the Spanish, overcoming the harsh dismissal of full-back Mal Donaghy, and the harsh physical attention of the Spanish team. The winning goal was a bit special, Luis Miguel Arconada the Spanish keeper could only flap at a Billy Hamilton cross, and the ball was lashed in first time form outside the penalty box by Armstrong. Despite the loss, and Yugoslavia beating Honduras (with another penalty) goal difference was enough to see Spain through.

	Group VI						

Brazil       2 1  Soviet Union  (Roman Sanchez Pizjuan, Sevilla)
Scotland     5 2  New Zealand   (Malaga)
Brazil       4 1  Scotland      (Benito Villamarin, Sevilla)
Soviet Union 3 0  New Zealand   (Malaga)
Soviet Union 2 2  Scotland      (Malaga)
Brazil       4 0  New Zealand   (Benito Villamarin, Sevilla)

Brazil          3  3  0  0 10  2  6      
Soviet Union    3  1  1  1  6  4  3      
Scotland        3  1  1  1  8  8  3 
New Zealand     3  0  0  3  2 12  0 

Brazil looked like having their best team since the 1970 competition, with immensely skillful talents such as Socrates, Falcao and Junior. The match against the Soviet Union was one of the best of the tournament. The Soviets played well, and took the lead after a fumble from the Peres the Brazilian keeper. But Brazil had enough skill and vigour to win the game with goals coming from midfield. But the absence of injured centre forwards Reinaldo and Careca did not seem to matter, for the moment.

Scotland, qualifying for the third successive time would again be their own worst enemies. This time their error was conceding two goals to a woeful New Zealand side, after they had gone three goals up. Playing Brazil, Scotland managed to take the lead thanks to a wonder goal from Dundee United player David Narey. But such provocation only shook the Brazilians to a footballing masterclass, and the Scots, visibly wilting in the heat would concede 4 goals, including one swerving freekick from Zico that was a direct descendant from Rivelino.

So Scotland had to beat USSR to progress, and things looked to be going well as Joe Jordan gave them an early lead. But a misunderstanding between central defenders Alan Hansen and Willie Miller led to a Soviet equaliser, and finding themselves back in the game went on to take the lead through Ramaz Shengelia. Scotland managed to respond with a goal from the tireless Graeme Souness but it was too little, too late, and Scotland went out on goal difference.

Second Round

	Group A						

Poland       3 0  Belgium      (Nou Camp, Barcelona)
Belgium      0 1  Soviet Union (Nou Camp, Barcelona)
Soviet Union 0 0  Poland       (Nou Camp, Barcelona)

Poland          2  1  1  0  3  0  3      
Soviet Union    2  1  1  0  1  0  3      
Belgium         2  0  0  2  0  4  0

Poland easily beat the Belgians, who looked a shadow of their side which reached the final of the 1980 European Nations Cup. Poland took the lead after only three minutes after Boniek fired in from cross by Grzegorz Lato. Boniek was on fine form and scored a hat-trick. Belgium played better against USSR, but again failed to score, and the Soviets stole the points after a mishit volley from Khoren Oganesian found its way into the net.

A superior goal difference meant that Poland only needed a draw from the last match, and they set out there stall to get one. This killed the match as a spectacle as the unadventurous Poles smothered the game. The Soviets did have a few chances, but could not make the most of them, and Poland took advantage of such a weak group to reach the semi-finals. But Boniek stupidly got himself booked and would be suspended for the semi.

	Group B						

England      0 0  West Germany (Bernabeu, Madrid)
West Germany 2 1  Spain        (Bernabeu, Madrid)
Spain        0 0  England      (Bernabeu, Madrid)

West Germany    2  1  1  0  2  1  3      
England         2  0  2  0  0  0  2      
Spain           2  0  1  1  1  2  1

A dull series of games, with little to comment on apart from a series of missed chances, the scorelines speak for themselves. England suffered from little spark, a clearly injured Bryan Robson, and inept finishing from out-of-practice strikers Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking in the second half against Spain. West Germany managed to both score and beat Spain, thanks more to Spanish keeper Arconada's mistakes than German prowess in attack.

	Group C						

Italy        2 1  Argentina    (Sarria, Barcelona)
Argentina    1 3  Brazil       (Sarria, Barcelona)
Brazil       2 3  Italy        (Sarria, Barcelona)

Italy           2  2  0  0  5  3  4      
Brazil          2  1  0  1  5  4  2      
Argentina       2  0  0  2  2  5  0

This lop-sided group ensured that the format of the competition would be changed for 1986. but at least this grouping produced exciting watchable games. It did not look promising after the first half of the opening game between Italy and Argentina, which was another tedious affair. But the game took off in the second half, Bruno Conti performing well on the wing set up the opening goal. A second goal came, despite the efforts of Rossi, still off-form, who missed a reasonably simple chance before Antonio Cabrini followed up. But it wasn't just skill that handed Italy the victory; the thuggish Claudio Gentile had the task of marking Maradona, an undertaking performed with aggression and accompanied by constant niggly kicks and shoves that went unpunished from an apathetic referee.

Now Brazil faced the Argentines, and gained the upper hand with an early goal from Zico. Argentina also pressured and had a series of opportunities to score after half-time but could not convert them. As the game wore on the Brazilian midfield began to tighten their grip on the game, and some inspired play and passing brought two more goals. Argentina's frustration began to vent itself as a number of late challenges and fouls began to escalate, culminating in the dismissal of Maradona for a cynical stamp on Joao Batista. A late goal was no consolation to Argentina, they were on their way home.

So Italy and Brazil were set up for an encounter which became a memorable game that many believe should have been the 1982 World Cup final. Before the game most observers thought that Brazil, with their array of talents, would waltz into the semi-finals. But Italy, for once, took the game to Brazil and attacked, and this approach paid dividends early on as Paolo Rossi glided undetected into the penalty box to head Italy in front. Brazil soon equalised, Zico escaping from the clutches of Gentile to set up Socrates who struck the ball first time past a static Dino Zoff.

The game went on, put poor defending would let the Brazilians down again, Rossi pouncing on a misplaced ball from Toninho Cerezo to poach his second. Brazil, needing only a draw to progress, scored again thanks to the great skill, composure and finishing of Falcao. Brazil could have finished the game off now, but some great saves from Zoff kept the Italian's hopes alive. Then Rossi, heroically won the game with a hat-trick, his third coming from being in the right place at a the right time as the ball bobbled around the Brazilian penalty area in the aftermath of a corner. The Brazilians, devastated, were out; they would have to wait 12 more years for a World Cup winning team to appear. Italy had bested the South Americans.

	Group D						

France       1 0  Austria          (Calderon, Madrid)
Austria      2 2  Northern Ireland (Calderon, Madrid)
France       4 1  Northern Ireland (Calderon, Madrid)

France           2  2  0  0  5  1  4      
Austria          2  0  1  1  2  3  1      
Northern Ireland 2  0  1  1  3  6  1

France simply had too much class for the other two sides. They were always the better side against Austria, a game they won thanks to a brilliant free kick from Bernard Genghini. Then the Austrians played out a competitive, well-fought draw with Northern Ireland, two teams who both looked more competent going forward then defending.

Northern Ireland then never gave up against France, but the guile in midfield of Platini and Tigana created the chances that France needed, and these opportunities were eagerly seized by the French forwards, Giresse and Dominique Rocheteau ending up with a brace apiece. By the end the Irish were spent, but the combative Whiteside showed he also possessed skill and set up Armstrong to restore some Irish respectability.

Semi Finals

Italy 2 0 Poland
(Nou Camp, Barcelona)

Poland's chances were hampered from the start by the enforced absence of centre-forward Boniek. He was replaced by the veteran Lato, who moved in from the wing. Lato was no longer the same force in this position as he had been in the 1974 tournament (where he was top scorer), but with Gentile also suspended for the Italians, the Poles attempted to use their physical strength and muscle a victory. Many feared a repeat of the goalless bore when the teams met in Group I, thankfully the semi-final was a more interesting spectacle.

Italy took the lead in the first half, Rossi the marksman again, he once again got to a loose ball first after Giancarlo Antognoni's free-kick had been blocked by the Polish wall. The Poles failed to mount any effective response, and Italy's win was confirmed when (who else?) Rossi met a cross from Conti and powerfully headed home.

Rossi was a hero for Italy again, he was on the road of redemption back from his earlier disgrace, implicated in a betting scandal Rossi had been suspended from Italian football for two years.

West Germany 3 3 France (5:4 penalties)
(Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Sevilla)

This match is best remembered for the shocking and brutal challenge on the French player Patrick Battiston by the German keeper Harald Schumacher. Battison, clean through the Greman defence, was met by an onrushing Schumacher charging from his goal. Battison played the ball past Schumacher before the keeper smacked into him, leading with a blow from the fore-arm. Battison was left unconscious and less a couple of teeth on the floor as the ball difted out of play wide of the post. Such was the severity of the challenge, magnified by the later unrepentantness of Schumacher, that any neutral observer was soon rooting for the Germans to lose. Schumacher went unpunished for his challenge, the referee, laughably, awarding the West Germans a goal kick.

The match had started with two talented teams both looking at the top of their games. West Germany took an early lead, with a good pass with Paul Breitner, leading to a goal from the young Pierre Littbarski. France soon equalised with a penalty, Rocheteau was fouled, and Platini, after kissing the football, slotted the penalty away with ease. The match then hung in the balance until Battison was assaulted, and the aftermath required a French reorganisation. Despite this the French looked shaky, and it was only the good from of their keeper Jean Luc Ettori, repelling several German efforts, that kept them in the game.

The game went into extra-time and suddenly France looked the strongest, the midfield reasserting their authority. A free-kick from Giresse was spectacularly met in mid-air by Marius Tresor to give the French the lead. West Germany responded, with a gamble, the semi-fit star striker Karl Heinz Rummenigge entered the fray. But then Giresse appeared to make sure for France with a goal himself, played in by Platini his shot beat Schumacher and went in off the post.

But as England found out in 1970, never write off the Germans. With less then ten minutes to go Rummenigge managed to score, although the French complained a number of fouls had gone unpunished in the build-up. Then incredibly, the Germans were back on level terms after the man-mountain Horst Hrubesch headed a cross back to his teammate Klaus Fischer who converted the chance. There was still time for France to hit a shot off the cross-bar in the search for a winner before, for the first time in a World Cup, the match would be decided by a penalty shoot-out.

The drama of such a shoot-out was unknown at the time, and many commentators lamented the fact that it was a lousy way to decide a football match. But given the inept tournament organisation by the Spanish (many teams would be forced to spend hours hanging around airports waiting for their baggage to appear) it can be seen why replays were viewed by FIFA with such dread. As always the villains are remembered more on these occasions than the heroes. Giresse, Amoros, Rocheteau and Platini scored for France; Manfred Kaltz, Breitner, Littbarski, Rummenigge and Hrubesch scored for West Germany. 5 beats 4 so West Germany where in another World Cup final. Uli Stielike was the most relieved man in Sevilla that night, while Didier Six and Maxime Bossis where left to rue what might have been.

Third Place Match

Poland 3 2 France


Italy 3 1 West Germany
(Bernabeu, Madrid)

Italy: Dino Zoff, Guiseppe Bergomi, Fulvio Collovanti, Claudio Gentile, Gaetano Scirea, Gabriele Oriali, Antonio Cabrini, Marco Tardelli, Bruno Conti, Francesco Graziani (Alessandro Altobelli (Franco Causio)), Paolo Rossi

West Germany: Harold Schumacher, Manfred Kaltz, Karl-Heinz Forster, Uli Stielike, Hans Peter Briegel, Bernd Forster, Wolfgang Dremmler (Horst Hrubesch), Paul Breitner, Pierre Littbarski, Klaus Fischer, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Hansi Muller)

Both sides had decisions to make about who would play in the final. Italy were forced to play without Antognoni, whose foot had been injured in the semi-final with Poland. Gentile was restored to the team and the 18 year-old defender Guiseppe Bergomi retained his place. West Germany on the other hand decided to start with a half-fit Rummenigge. The Italian response was to man mark Rummenigge with Bergomi, who would perform an admirable job, and unleash Gentile on the young and tender skills of Littbarski.

The two teams cancelled each other out in the first half, each side succeeding in their aim of preventing the other side playing. Such tactics were best illustrated by the crude bodycheck by Stielike on the lightweight Gabriele Oriali as the Italian advanced towards the German goal. The resultant free-kick was wasted and Stielike escaped a booking. Earlier Rummenigge snatched at a shot in the opening minutes, a chance a fit Rummenigge would have taken easily. Conti fell over Hans Peter Briegel in the 18 yard box and a penalty given. With Antognoni, the first choice taker, confined to the stand, Cabrini shouldered the responsibility, but his tame effort missed the target.

In the second half, the game improved, thanks to Italy taking the lead but then refusing to sit back and let the German attack them. The opening scorer was, inevitably and fittingly, Rossi, who scored with another header, this time the provider was Gentile, deciding to kick the ball and not an opponent for a change. The Germans then had a number of chances, but Dino Zoff in the Italian goal used all his 40 years of experience to steady the Italian boat.

The second goal was a glorious long-distance strike by Marco Tardelli, perhaps one of the finest to ever grace a World Cup final. Italy grabbed a third, this time on the counter after West Germany were searching for a way back into the game. Conti, still looking fresh (those muscle stimulants administered by the Italian coaching staff proving their worth), embarked on a 60 yard plus dribble before setting up Alessandro Altobelli who calmly placed the ball past Schumacher.

Breitner manages to grab a consolation for West Germany before the end, but the Italians emerged victorious. This result was accepted happily by neutrals, happy the Germans had not been rewarded for some of their cruder antics. But the competition still seemed to leave a bitter taste, the 24 teams meant the tournament dragged out longer than ever before, much of the refereeing was sub-par and the format clearly needed altering. The journey to global behemoth status was underway.

Top Scorers

6 - Paolo Rossi (Italy)

5 - Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (West Germany)

4 - Zico (Brazil), Zbigniew Boniek (Poland)

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