The all-time World Cup

April 12th 2005
Paris, Stade Colombe
1-2 (0-1)

      GOALS                   12'  0-1  José Miguel Michel
                              55'  1-1  Aleksandr Zavarov
                              78'  1-2  Raul Gonzalez Blanco

      REFEREE                 William Ling (England)

      ATTENDANCE              31,000

      YELLOW CARDS            Camacho (SPA)

      SOVIET UNION (Coach: Valerij Lobanovski, system 4-3-3)

      12 Rinat Dassaev (captain)
       2 Vladimir Bessonov
      17 Viktor Onopko
       3 Aleksandr Chivadze
      16 Vasili Rats
      18 Valeri Voronin                 (-73)
      13 Aleksandr Zavarov
      19 Igor Netto
      20 Valentin Ivanov                (-60)
       9 Oleg Protasov
      21 Anatoli Ilyin                  (-73)

      14 Eduard Streltzov               (+60)
       8 Vladimir Muntian               (+73)
      15 Igor Tschislenko               (+73)

      SPAIN (Coach: Miguel Munoz, system 4-4-2)
      12 Luis Miguel Arconada
      20 Juan Segarra
      18 Miguel Bernardo Migueli
       6 Fernando Hierro
       2 José Antonio Camacho (captain)
       8 José Miguel Michel             (-82)
      21 Victor Munoz
      10 Luis Suarez (-84)
      11 Francisco Gento
       7 Raul Gonzalez Blanco           (-80)
       9 Emilio Butragueno

      15 Telmo Zarra                    (+80)
       4 Antonio Maceda                 (+82)
       5 José Pirri                     (+84)


    The Soviet Union started the match sure of having qualified for the second round and Lobanovski left out many of his first choices. But what was left wasn't bad either. From the team that had played the first two matches as starters, only Bessonov, Rats and Netto were in the team. Even Yashin was rested, but Dassaev was more than a worthy replacement. He and Chivadze, Voronin, Zavarov and Ilyin played their first minutes in this All Time World Cup.

    For Spain this was a do-or-die match. Unlike the Soviets they were not sure of reaching the next phase. As a complete surprise coach Miguel Munoz left out his giant goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora, but it was a necessity. Zamora had injured a thumb in training, it wasn't very bad but Munoz thought he needed healthy players and put Luis Arconada in the starting line-up. Rafael Gordillo was the second who had to withdraw, but with Francisco Gento Spain had a lot of power on the left flank. Munoz opted for a team with two central strikers, Butragueno was back in business and just behind him Raul would play.

    In the Stade Colombe Spain played very careful from the beginning. Everyone was convinced that in Pasadena, Mexico would beat the Americans so Spain needed at least a draw. They played very concentrated defensively against a Soviet team that was in a freewheeling mood, open-minded but just because of that at the same time very dangerous. Early on Protasov, left alone by marker Migueli, got a great opportunity to open the score but Arconada saved it magnificently, justifying his place. The corner kick that was the result was headed away by Hierro, and Spain were out of trouble.

    At the start the Soviets looked the better team, but when Spain took over they immediately opened the score. Raul turned away from Netto in midfield and passed the ball to Michel. The right midfielder released a high curling shot that surprised Dassaev completely. The shot went in at the far post: 0-1. It reminded very much of the goal Dassaev had conceded from Marco van Basten in the Euro 1988 final. That was the start Spain had hoped for. Against a not very motivated Soviet Union they now could lean back and wait for the moments that would come to counter. It made not a very interesting game and both teams only had one chance in the rest of the first half. Ilyin shot straight at Arconada after an intelligent pass by Voronin had beaten Segarra and Hierro. Shortly after Butragueno was provided with a cross by Gento but he found Dassaev in the way. Half-time came with a 1-0 lead for the team that needed it the most.

    Lobanovski was not the type of manager to accept his team being lacklustre and in the dressing room he released a thunderous speech. From the beginning in the second half, the Soviet Union now showed much more interest and eagerness to make the most out of it. Ivanov and Ilyin, virtual no-showers in the first part, increased the pressure on the Spanish full-backs and from midfield more accurate passes reached Protasov. Vladimir Bessonov, the right back, now supported his men up front much more. It was him who provided the equalizer. He freed himself from Victor, Migueli could only clear the cross partially and Zavarov from 12 metres out made no mistake. Arconada tried to narrow the angle but it was too late: 1-1. Still no reason to panic for Spain, but looking at the score from Pasadena at that moment things could go the wrong way if they would lose.

    But once they got the equalizer, the Soviet Union were satisfied. They seemed to be happy with a draw which would guarantee them the top spot in the group. Spain came back in the match but created very little chances. Only on the right flank, where Michel and Rats clashed, they came through dangerously every now and then. On the left Gento was chained by Bessonov and Luis Suarez also couldn't impose. Lobanovski tried to revive his team by taking off Ivanov (chanceless against Camacho) and replacing him with joint topscorer of the tournament Eduard Streltzov. Later also Muntian and Tschislenko entered the pitch but it didn't change much. It was Spain that had taken control now and that took the lead.

    It was Netto who unexpectedly lost the ball in midfield. He wanted to pass it to Rats but Victor had foreseen it. The ball came to Michel who beautifully passed it over 30 metres to Raul. Onopko and Chivadze were nowhere to be found and with only Dassaev in the way Raul made no mistake. The 2-1 lead was the signal for Munoz to shut the door defensively. The substitution of Raul with Zarra was a normal one, but when he replaced Michel with central defender Antonio Maceda and Suarez with Pirri, it was clear what the goal was: keeping the lead intact and nothing more than that. At any cost Spain wanted to carry the 2-1 over the 90 minutes. And that happened. The Soviets had one more chance, but Arconada saved from Streltzov and Protasov couldn't net the rebound. The win gave Spain first place in the group and a game in Berne against the runners up from group C. The Soviet union travelled to Yokohama for a match against the winners from group C.

    Next Friday the countries from group C will play their last match. Holland take on Poland in Mexico City, while at the same time Uruguay and South Korea meet in Santiago. Holland and Uruguay are the clear favourites to qualify, but if Holland fail to grab at least a draw against Poland they are most certainly out. South Korea are sure of elimination but the team will play for their consolation. Referee in Mexico City is Arnaldo Coelho from Brazil, while Uruguay-South Korea is under guidance of East-German Rudi Glöckner. No suspensions or injuries it seems, so all teams can field their best teams.


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