The all-time World Cup

July 5th 2005
Mexico City, Estadio Azteca
2-3 a.e.t. (1-0,1-1)

      GOALS                    37'  1-0  Luigi Riva
                               84'  1-1  José Manuel Moreno
                              103'  1-2  Jorge Luis Burruchaga
                              106'  2-2  Silvio Piola
                              115'  2-3  Daniel Alberto Passarella (penalty)
      REFEREE                 Rudi Glöckner (East Germany)

      ATTENDANCE              107,000

      YELLOW CARDS            Benetti, Baresi, Tardelli, Collovati (ITA)
                              Passarella, Monti, Zanetti (ARG)

      RED CARDS               Tardelli, Maldini (ITA) - Monti (ARG)

      ITALY (Coach: Vittorio Pozzo, system 4-3-3)

       1 Dino Zoff
       2 Giuseppe Bergomi
       5 Riccardo Ferri
       6 Franco Baresi (captain)
      15 Paolo Maldini
      14 Marco Tardelli
       8 Romeo Benetti
      12 Sandro Mazzola             (-74)
       7 Giuseppe Meazza            (-91)
       9 Silvio Piola
      11 Luigi Riva                (-110)

      20 Fulvio Collovati           (+74)
      18 Roberto Baggio             (+91)
      21 Christian Vieri           (+110)

      ARGENTINA (Coach: Cesar Luis Menotti, system 4-4-2)

       1 Ubaldo Matildo Fillol
       2 Javier Adelmar Zanetti
       5 Oscar Alfredo Ruggeri
       6 Daniel Alberto Passarella (captain)
       3 Silvio Marzolini
       7 Jorge Luis Burruchaga
       8 Osvaldo Carlos Ardiles     (-71)
       4 Luis Felipe Monti
      10 Diego Armando Maradona
       9 Alfredo Di Stefano        (-119)
      15 Gabriel Omar Batistuta     (-91)
      19 José Manuel Moreno         (+71)
      14 Mario Alberto Kempes       (+91)
      21 Antonio Ubaldo Rattin     (+119)


    At the end of this final the question was whether this match between Italy and Argentina had been advertorial for the game or not. Looking at all aspects, the answer was: yes! Though both teams had made it a fight on life and death, with too many brutal fouls but on the other end it had been a breathtaking and overwhelming experience. A clash that deserved two winners. But there would be only one: an ultracomplete team that withtstood the highest pressure.

    Italy's coach Pozzo knew that his line-up had overcome the most difficult opposition you could imagine: Hungary, Germany, Brazil. He had no need to change a thing. Riccardo Ferri, one of the outstanding defenders in the competition, came back and Collovati had to take place on the bench again. Sandro Mazzola kept his place in midfield to big desillusion of Rivera, Baggio and Valentino Mazzola. Of course they would have sacrificed everything to play in this match. Though there had been rumours about the inclusion of Kempes from the beginning, Menotti still kept faith in the partnership of Di Stefano and Batistuta up front, scorers of 10 goals among them. In defence Ruggeri was back and took his place alongside captain Passarella.

    The biggest brainbreaker for Pozzo was how to neutralize the magical "tridente" that Argentina had. Batistuta would be marked by Ferri, that much was certain from the start. Pozzo chose Bergomi to play against Di Stefano and connected Tardelli - much more mobile than Benetti - to one of the stars of the tournament, Diego Maradona. The plan worked out well, neither of the three big guns could really impose during the match. Now Argentina had more munition aboard and most of all Passarella, Burruchaga and Ardiles played fantasticly. A match within the match was the clash between Monti and Benetti, two great players both prepared to use physical strength when necessary.

    Before the match both teams were presented to All Time FIFA president Jules Rimet. When the Fratteli d'Italia and the Himno Nacional Argentino had been played and both teams had been pictured by hundreds of photoghraphers, referee Rudi Glöckner blew the wistle for the start of of the match.

    Neither of the teams seemed to be willing to gamble too much and run into a quick counterattack. Italy not from a kind of second nature, but also Argentina started looking reluctant to offer too much space. Italy's strikers had shown they could score at times when it was really needed, as if from nothing. The first chance fell to Riva who left Zanetti behind and released a hard shot that Fillol could turn over the bar only just. It was also a clash, though far apart from each other, between two of the greatest sweepers of all time. Baresi and Passarella, both captains, led their teams impressively. Passarella always tried to find the moment to support the attack and he was a threat throughout the match. Baresi was always aware to make up for a possible man extra situation in midfield, or create it. After the 1994 World Cup final, he played a second match of his life.

    Meanwhile it was a hard match, a very hard match. Passarella who showed the road in many ways, was the first to go over the line. Benetti was the victim and Rudi Glöcker showed the Argentina captain the first yellow card of the match. Benetti however got his revenge just moments later when he floored Burruchaga. Glöckner again took the yellow card out of his pocket. Just like Baresi and Monti later in the first half disappeared into the German's book. Baresi had blocked Maradona just when the superstar for once had left Tardelli behind and threatened to break through. Monti had committed a scandalous foul on Tardelli, here a red card would have been the only right decision. Tardelli had to undergo treatment for a few minutes but never thought about having himself substituted in the most important match of his career.

    The match was still perfectly balanced when suddenly, after 37 minutes, Italy broke the deadlock. It was a mistake of goalkeeper Fillol. Meazza took a free kick on the sideline, Fillol came from his line to intercept. Being disturbed by Piola however he dropped the ball and Riva was there first to tab it in: 1-0. It put the match on fire. Argentina responded immediately and launched a string of attacks on Zoff's goal. Maradona now got into the match and dragged Tardelli all over the pitch. The Italian midfielder though wouldn't give in and let the Argentine no inch of space. At the same time Ferri and Bergomi marked Batistuta and Di Stefano very closely. The danger had to come from midfield. Passarella saw it and pushed his team ahead. Even before the break Argentina were close to equalize twice. A thunderbolt shot from Monti needed a fine save from Zoff, Ferri did the rest and made it a corner. In the dying seconds Passarella tried one more, Zoff again was at his post. So it went into the dressing room with Italy 1-0 up, none of the 107,000 spectators as well as billions on their screens could wait for the second half. This was worth a final, this looked like the All Time Greatest Match.

    Italy were pushed back more and more after the break, but still remained dangerous from the counter themselves. Riva was the better of Zanetti and also Ruggeri (against Piola) and Marzolini (against Meazza) were in trouble more than once. This way both full backs had rather little influence on the attacking game of their team. Riva was close to scoring a second time but Fillol had recovered from his fault. Just before Riva wanted to pull the trigger, Fillol dived into his feet and blocked the attempt. In the meantime it was still a hard match. Most of all Maradona - who got better now the match progressed - was knocked down several times. First by Bergomi, then he was brought down by Tardelli who received yellow card number 5. And number 6 was never far away. Zanetti got it for pulling Piola's jersey. If one thing was clear it was, that this game would not end with all 22 players still on the pitch.

    Efforts from Batistuta, Maradona and Passarella were kept out by Zoff who did very well. Time now slipped through Argentina's hands. The Italian defence seemed unbeatable. José Manuel Moreno came in place of Ardiles who had played very well, but was sacrificed for a higher goal. Di Stefano now played more from midfield but still had to do with Bergomi. Pozzo without hesitation ordered Collovati and replaced Mazzola, who had not been the factor he had been earlier in the competition. Collovati would try to control Moreno but started with a flagrant foul: yellow card number 7 was on it's way. Italy now hardly left their own half but had the chance to make everything clear when Riva feeded Piola with an excellent pass. Ruggeri came too late but Fillol got a hand to the lob Piola tried. And how important that save would be ..... Six minutes before the end of the match with Argentina desparately attacking, the equalizer. As yet the equalizer! Burruchaga broke through over the right side, crossed the ball and Di Stefano geniously stepped over. Moreno pushed it over the line: 1-1. Ferri tried to save it, but linesman Bakhramov this time had seen it right: goal, 1-1!

    Italy-Argentina thus went into extra time. Menotti saw that Batistuta was demolished by Ferri and took him off. Kempes came in his place. For Italy Baggio came in Meazza's place. Extra time was the cream on the cake. First of all Passarella struck the post with an impereous header. Zoff would have been without a chance. Soon after the outstanding Luigi Riva struck the bar with an equally powerful shot. But just before the end of the first half Argentina took the lead. Monti set up the attack, Di Stefano kept the ball as long as needed to release a beautiful pass to Burruchaga. The pass was perfect, Burruchaga controlled it and shot it in from the post: 2-1. All of a sudden the game had changed and Italy had to chase Argentina.

    But they were not down and out, the Azzuri, no way! As fast as lightning they got back into the match. In the first minute of the second half of extra time Benetti got the ball. He crossed it into the box and there was Piola who rose above Ruggeri. Fillol was too far in front of his goalline and was beaten: 2-2. This was too much for some of the players, they couldn't control the passion and emotion. Monti again committed a brutal foul, this time against Maldini. Glöckner knew what to do and sent him off. This seemed to be in Italy's favour of course, but Argentina had energy left. Kempes had the winner on his foot, Zoff against saved brilliantly. Three minutes later Collovati could have been immortal. From a Baggio corner he headed against the bar.

    Five minutes before the end the big bomb. Zanetti steamed up along the right sideline and served Burruchaga. The midfielder ran into the box and just when he wanted to finish, there was Maldini. Leg met leg, everyone looked at Glöckner. The German hesitated no single second: penalty to Argentina!

    There were specialists to choose from on Argentinian side. Of course there was Maradona, there was Kempes as well as Di Stefano or Burruchaga himself. But it was captain Passarella who took the ball in his hand and the responsability. Under enormous pressure he put the ball on the spot. It lasted long, seconds seemed like hours and the Italians did all they could to take away Passarella's concentration. Would he break? No, Passarella was a kind of player who would never break, not under the highest pressure! Everyone held their breath when Passarella took his run. Zoff fell to the right corner, Passarella drove it low into the left. Argentina were back into the lead, and for good.

    Italy again grabbed all their positive energy and attacked with all their might. They wanted to do it with one man more on the pitch, but Tardelli floored Maradona again when the superstar tried to break through. It was the second booking for Tardelli who had to go off. Seconds later Maldini underwent the same fate went he pulled Moreno's jersey who was one-on-one with Zoff. Suddenly Italy were one man down but it didn't break their morale. Glöckner added 3 minutes for stoppages and Italy had one more chance. Baresi sent the ball into the box, substitute Vieri found Burruchaga's leg on the line. In the following scrimmage Glöckner gave a foul for Piola's challenge on Passarella. It was as well the signal for the end of the Italian hope. Passarella cleared from the free kick and 30 seconds later it was over.

    It had been a match unmatched. Both teams had given all they had. Benetti, who had surprisingly survived without a red card, Bergomi and Marzolini had been down with cramp during extra time. Passarella, the man that had decided the match with his fierce penalty, received the All Time World Cup from Jules Rimet's hands. Italy and Argentina had shown that their place in the final was justified. They had been only second favourites to Brazil and Germany before it all started but both the Azzurri and the Biancocelestes had shown that their combination of great skills and the power to work together as a team was decisive. There would be long debates about this final and about the total All Time World Cup. But in the end Argentina won it, a team with extra class in all parts of the team as well as the best player ever: Maradona. He had not been decisive in this final but had been terrific all the way. The team rose to the occasion and in the end the value of the team as a whole was more than the addition of all divided elements. And that was what was needed to win. Just as always!


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