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The 12th Edition - Spain 1982

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The 1982 FIFA World Cup, the 12th FIFA World Cup, was held in Spain from 13 June to 11 July. The tournament was won by Italy, after defeating West Germany 3–1 in the final. It was Italy's third World Cup win and first since 1938. The holders Argentina were eliminated in the second group round. The tournament's top scorer was Paolo Rossi of Italy with six goals, including a hat-trick in a second group game against Brazil and one in the final.

Spain was chosen as the host nation by FIFA in London, England on 6 July 1966. Hosting rights for the 1974 and 1978 tournaments were awarded at the same time. West Germany agreed a deal with Spain by which Spain would support West Germany for the 1974 tournament, and in return West Germany would allow Spain to bid for the 1982 World Cup unopposed.

For the first time, the World Cup finals expanded from 16 to 24 teams. This allowed more teams, especially from Africa and Asia, to participate.

Teams absent from the finals and that also failed to qualify were 1974 and 1978 runners-up Netherlands (eliminated by Belgium and France), Mexico (eliminated by Honduras and El Salvador), and the participants of the 1974 and 1978 tournaments Sweden (eliminated by Scotland and Northern Ireland). Northern Ireland qualified for the first time since 1958. Belgium, Czechoslovakia, El Salvador, England, and the Soviet Union were back in the Finals after a 12-year absence. England had its first successful World Cup qualifying campaign in 20 years - the English team had qualified automatically as hosts in 1966 and as defending champions in 1970, then failed to qualify for the 1974 and 1978 tournaments. Yugoslavia were also back after failed to qualify for the 1978 tournament.

Algeria, Cameroon, Honduras, Kuwait, and New Zealand all participated in the World Cup for the first time. As of 2014, this was the last time that El Salvador, Kuwait and Peru qualified for a FIFA World Cup finals.

There was some consideration given as to whether England, Northern Ireland and Scotland should withdraw from the tournament due to the Falklands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom. A directive issued by the British sports minister Neil Macfarlane in April, at the start of the conflict, suggested that there should be no contact between British representative teams and Argentina. This directive was not rescinded until August,

following the end of hostilities. Neil Macfarlane, the Sports Minister, reported to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that some players and officials were uneasy about participating due to the casualties being suffered by British forces. FIFA advised the British Government that there was no prospect of Argentina (the defending champions) being asked to withdraw. It also became apparent that no other countries would withdraw from the tournament. It was decided to allow the British national teams to participate because it could have been used for propaganda purposes by Argentina, rather than having the intended effect of applying political pressure onto Argentina.

The 1982 competition used a unique format. The first round was a round-robin group stage containing six groups of four teams each. Two points were awarded for a win and one for a draw, with goal difference used to separate teams equal on points. The top two teams in each group advanced. In the second round, the twelve remaining teams were split into four groups of three teams each, with the winner of each group progressing to the knockout semi-final stage.

In Group 1, newcomers Cameroon held both Poland and Italy to draws, and were denied a place in the next round on the basis of having scored fewer goals than Italy (the sides had an equal goal difference). Poland and Italy qualified over Cameroon and Peru. Italian journalists and tifosi criticised their team for their uninspired performances that managed three draws; the squad was reeling from the recent Serie A scandal, where national players were suspended for match fixing and illegal betting.

Group 2 saw one of the great World Cup upsets on the first day with the 2–1 victory of Algeria over reigning European Champions West Germany. In the final match in the group, West Germany met Austria.
Algeria had already played their final group game the day before, and West Germany and Austria knew that a West German win by 1 or 2 goals would qualify them both, while a larger German victory would qualify Algeria over Austria, and a draw or an Austrian win would eliminate the Germans. After 10 minutes of all-out attack, West Germany scored through a goal by Horst Hrubesch. After the goal was scored, the two teams kicked the ball around aimlessly for the rest of the match. Chants of "Fuera, fuera" ("Out, out") were screamed by the Spanish crowd, while angry Algerian supporters waved banknotes at the players. This performance was widely deplored, even by the German and Austrian fans. One German fan was so upset by his team's display that he burned his German flag in disgust. Algeria protested to FIFA, who ruled that the result be allowed to stand; FIFA introduced a revised qualification system at subsequent World Cups in which the final two games in each group were played simultaneously.

Group 3, where the opening ceremony and first match of the tournament took place, saw Belgium beat defending champions Argentina 1–0. The Camp Nou stadium was the home of Barcelona, and many fans had wanted to see the club's new signing, Argentinian star Diego Maradona, who did not perform to expectations. Both Belgium and Argentina ultimately advanced at the expense of Hungary and El Salvador despite Hungary's 10–1 win over the Central American nation — which, with a total of 11 goals, is the second highest score line in a World Cup game (equal with Brazil's 6–5 victory over Poland in the 1938 tournament and Hungary's 8–3 victory over West Germany in the 1954 tournament).

Group 4 opened with England midfielder Bryan Robson's goal against France after only 27 seconds of play. England won 3–1 and qualified along with France over Czechoslovakia and Kuwait, though the tiny Gulf emirate held Czechoslovakia to a 1–1 draw. In the game between Kuwait and France, with France leading 3–1, France midfielder Alain Giresse scored a goal vehemently contested by the Kuwait team, who had stopped play after hearing a piercing whistle from the stands, which they thought had come from Soviet referee Miroslav Stupar. Play had not yet resumed when Sheikh Fahid Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, brother of the Kuwaiti Emir and president of the Kuwaiti Football Association, rushed onto the pitch to remonstrate with the referee. Stupar countermanded his initial decision and disallowed the goal to the fury of the French. Maxime Bossis scored another valid goal a few minutes later and France won 4–1. Stupar lost his international refereeing credentials as a result of this incident, and Al-Sabah received a $10,000 fine.

In Group 5, Honduras held hosts Spain to a 1–1 draw. Northern Ireland won the group outright, eliminating Yugoslavia and beating hosts Spain 1–0; Northern Ireland had to play the majority of the second half with ten men after Mal Donaghy was dismissed. Spain scraped by thanks to a controversial penalty in the 2–1 victory over Yugoslavia. At 17 years and 41 days, Northern Ireland forward Norman Whiteside was the youngest player to appear in a World Cup match.

Brazil were in Group 6. With Zico, Sócrates, Falcão, Éder and fellows, they boasted an offensive firepower that promised a return to the glory days of 1970. They beat the USSR 2–1 thanks to a 20 metre Éder goal two minutes from time, then Scotland and New Zealand with four goals each. The Soviets took the group's other qualifying berth on goal difference at the expense of the Scots.

Poland opened Group A with a 3–0 defeat of Belgium thanks to a Zbigniew Boniek hat-trick. The Soviet Union prevailed 1–0 in the next match over Belgium. The Poles edged out the USSR for the semi-final spot on the final day on goal difference thanks to a 0–0 draw in a politically charged match, as Poland's then-Communist government had imposed a martial law a few months earlier to quash internal dissent.

In Group B, a match between England and West Germany ended in a goalless draw. West Germany put the pressure on England in their second match by beating Spain 2–1. The home side drew 0–0 against England, denying Ron Greenwood's team a semi-final place and putting England in the same position as Cameroon, being eliminated without losing a game.

In Group C, with Brazil, Argentina and Italy, in the opener, Italy prevailed 2–1 over Diego Maradona's side after a game in which Italian defenders Gaetano Scirea and Claudio Gentile proved themselves equal to the task of stopping the Argentinian attack. Argentina now needed a win over Brazil on the second day, but lost 3–1 — Argentina only scoring in the last minute. Diego Maradona kicked Brazilian player Joao Batista in the groin and was sent off in the 85th minute.

The match between Brazil and Italy put Brazil's attack against Italy's defence, with the majority of the game played around the Italian area, with the Italian midfielders and defenders returning the repeated set volleys of Brazilian shooters such as Zico, Socrates and Falcao. Italian centre back Claudio Gentile was assigned to mark Brazilian striker Zico, earning a yellow card and a suspension for the following game against Poland. Enzo Bearzot's striker, Paolo Rossi, opened the scoring when he headed in Antonio Cabrini's cross with just five minutes played. Socrates equalised for Brazil twelve minutes later. In the twenty-fifth minute Rossi stepped past a Brazilian defender, intercepted a pass across the Brazilians' goal, and drilled the shot home. The Brazilians threw everything in search of another equaliser, while Italy defended bravely. On 68 minutes, Falcao collected a pass from Junior and fired home from 20 yards out to draw the match. Now Italy had gained the lead twice thanks to Rossi's goals, and Brazil had come back twice; at 2–2, Brazil would have been through on goal difference, but at the 74th minute, a poor clearance from an Italian corner kick went back to the Brazilian six-yard line where Rossi and Francesco Graziani were waiting. Both aimed at the same shot, Rossi connecting to get a hat trick and sending Italy into the lead for good.

In the last group, Group D, France dispatched Austria 1–0 in their opener, then beat Northern Ireland 4–1 for their first semifinal appearance since 1958.

Italy beat Poland in the first semi-final through two goals from Paolo Rossi. In the game between France and West Germany, the Germans opened the scoring through a Pierre Littbarski strike in the 17th minute, and the French equalised nine minutes later with a Michel Platini penalty. In the second half a long through ball sent French defender Patrick Battiston racing clear towards the German goal. With both Battiston and the lone German defender trying to be the first to reach the ball, Battiston flicked it past German keeper Harald Schumacher from the edge of the German penalty area and Schumacher reacted by jumping up to block. Schumacher completely missed the ball, however, and clattered straight into the oncoming Battiston – which left the French player unconscious and knocked two of his teeth out. Schumacher's action has been described as "one of history's most shocking fouls". The ball went just wide of the post and Dutch referee Charles Corver deemed Schumacher's tackle on Battiston not to be a foul and awarded a goal kick. Play was interrupted for several minutes while Battiston, still unconscious and with a broken jaw, was carried off the field on a stretcher. After French defender Manuel Amoros had sent a 25-metre drive crashing onto the West German crossbar in the final minute, the match went into extra time. On 92 minutes, France's sweeper Marius Trésor fired a swerving volley under Schumacher's crossbar from ten metres out to make it 2–1. Six minutes later, an unmarked Alain Giresse drove in an 18-metre shot off the inside of the right post to finish off a counter-attack and put France up 3–1. But West Germany would not give up. In the 102nd minute a counter-attack culminated in a cross that recent substitute Karl-Heinz Rummenigge turned in at the near post from a difficult angle with the outside of his foot, reducing France's lead to 3–2. Then in the 108th minute Germany took a short corner and after France failed to clear, the ball was played by Germany to Littbarski whose cross to Horst Hrubesch was headed back to the centre towards Klaus Fischer, who was unmarked but with his back to goal. Fischer in turn volleyed the ball past French keeper Jean-Luc Ettori with a bicycle kick, levelling the scores at 3–3 and sending the match to penalties. This goal was voted the greatest goal in the history of German football by German supporters. Because the scores were level after extra time, France and West Germany participated in the first ever penalty shootout at a World Cup finals. Giresse, Manfred Kaltz, Manuel Amoros, Paul Breitner and Dominique Rocheteau all converted penalties until Uli Stielike was stopped by Ettori, giving France the advantage. But then Schumacher stepped forward, lifted the tearful Stielike from the ground, and saved Didier Six's shot. With Germany handed the lifeline they needed Littbarski converted his penalty, followed by Platini for France, and then Rummenigge for Germany as the tension mounted. France defender Maxime Bossis then had his kick parried by Schumacher who anticipated it, and Hrubesch stepped up to score and send Germany to the World Cup final yet again with a victory on penalties, 4–5.

In the final, after a scoreless first half during which Antonio Cabrini fired a penalty wide of goal, the fresher legs of the Italians and the confidence gained from their previous three victories began to make the difference between the teams. After a foul just outside the area by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Italian central defender Claudio Gentile raced upfield to set the ball and initiate the quick restart, catching the German goalkeeper Schumacher out of position and the German defence unprepared. Paolo Rossi scored first for the third straight game by heading home Gentile's bouncing cross at close range. Exploiting the situation, Italy scored twice more on quick counter-strikes, all the while capitalising on their defence to hold the Germans. With Gentile and Gaetano Scirea holding the centre, the Italian strikers were free to counter-punch the weakened German defence. Marco Tardelli's shot from the edge of the area beat Schumacher first, and Alessandro Altobelli, the substitute for injured striker Francesco Graziani, made it 3–0 at the end of a solo sprint down the right side by the stand-out winger Bruno Conti. Italy's lead appeared secure, encouraging Italian president Sandro Pertini to wag his finger at the cameras in a playful "not going to catch us now" gesture. In the 83rd minute Paul Breitner scored a goal against Dino Zoff, but Italy claimed their first World Cup title in 44 years, and their third in total with a 3–1 victory.

In the third-place match, Poland edged the French side 3–2 which matched Poland's best ever performance at a World Cup previously achieved in 1974. France would go on to win the European Championship two years later.

Italy became the first team to advance from the first round without winning a game, drawing all three (while Cameroon were eliminated in the same way), and also the only World Cup winner to draw or lose three matches at the Finals. By winning, Italy equalled Brazil's record of winning the World Cup three times. Italy's total of twelve goals scored in seven matches set a new low for average goals scored per game by a World Cup winning side (subsequently exceeded by Spain in 2010), while Italy's aggregate goal difference of +6 for the tournament remains a record low for a champion, equalled by Spain.

Italy's 40-year-old captain-goalkeeper Dino Zoff became the oldest-ever player to win the World Cup. This was the first World Cup in which teams from all six continental confederations participated in the finals, something that did not happen again until 2006.

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