Mexico ’86 – one of the greatest ever World Cup finals – was graced, nay dominated, by one team and more specifically one man – Diego Maradona.
Argentina, the 1978 winners on home soil, had a solid, if unspectacular squad. Head Coach Carlos Bilardo guided the side comfortably through the group stages where Maradona had already showed glimpses of why he had been the subject of two world record transfer deals.
The little man from the streets of Villa Fiorito on the south side of Buenos Aires was not alone in making an impact. In attack he was ably assisted by Jorge Valdano and Jorge Burruchaga who each bagged vital goals en route to winning football’s greatest prize.
From the first knockout round onwards, Maradona and Co. really came alive. La Albiceleste disposed of neighbours Uruguay before famously knocking England out in the quarter-finals in a grudge match spiced-up by the animosity created by the Falklands War four years earlier. ‘God’ was certainly an Argentinian that day as his assist for Maradona’s hotly contested first goal was then superseded by his other-worldly second put them on course to win their second world crown.
Another Maradona masterclass inspired Argentina to a semi-final win over Belgium before they took on the stoic West Germans in the final at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City in front of 115,000 people.
Having raced into a two-goal lead, tired legs allowed the Germans to draw level and look the more likely winners as normal time began to run out. But with just six minutes remaining, Maradona cut open the German back line with a precise pass to set up Burruchaga. His neat finish past Harald Schumacher secured glory for the team in the famous blue and white stripes and confirmed Diego Maradona as the greatest player on Earth.
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