Top 100 World Cup Moments (From the Aussie P.O.V.): 22-West Germany Come Out On Top In The Hack Fest of Rome (1990)

World Cup 1990 Final

The 1990 World Cup in Italy was seen as boring, defensive and cynical with the 1-0 results and spite between some sides adding to the stereotype of the sport in countries such as our little island that still saw the game was some kind of peculiar ethnic mating dance. Still, the rematch of the 1986 Final (a classic) to be played at the Olympic Stadium in Rome was set to be a cracker.

In one corner was West Germany who had shaken off their ‘boring’ tag by playing attacking football in the early stages. Still led by Franz Beckenbauer and captained by Lothar Matthaus they opened their campaign with a surprisingly entertaining 4-1 thrashing of the quite fancied Yugoslavia who featured a then 21 year old soon to be Croatian legend Robert Prosinecki. Matthaus scored a double with goals coming from the front two of Voller and Klinsmann to finish the rout. West Germany would then go on to score another massive in with a 5-1 thrashing of the next to hopeless UAE. A double from Voller and goals from Klinsmann, Matthaus and Bein helping out with the beating. They then rounded off the first round with a 1-1 draw with Colombia before beating the European champions Holland in a spiteful 2-1 win and then beating both Czechoslovakia and England to make the big one.

For everything that West Germany was in this World Cup Argentina were the polar opposite. The defending champions most definitely wore the black hat in Italy and were universally loathed by most. They kicked off the tournament with that 1-0 upset loss to Cameroon in the opening match before they beat the USSR 2-0 and then struggled to a 1-1 draw with Romania, not exactly the stuff of champions. In the knockout stage they put up the wall and churned out a 1-0 win against a poor Brazil, a penalty shootout win over Yugoslavia after a 0-0 draw and then defeated Italy on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the semi final to knock the hosts out and confirm their public enemy number 1 status.

Anti-football was a major factor of this tournament and Argentina was the poster boy. What also didn’t help was the fact that before the semi final in Naples Diego Maradona said that people from Napoli should support Argentina in the semi because of the industrial North always dominating the rural south, guess who all the neutrals in Rome would be going for in the final now? The fact that star striker Claudio Cannigia was out of the final suspended meant that Argentina would camp in their own area and defend to the hilt.

Played on July 8 the final was completely forgettable in the first half. Boring tactics, horrible fouls (with only one booking) and no chances to either side had people bored out of their skulls and reaching for pivo. In the second half the same continued with the Argentineans stifling the attacking prowess of Klinsmann and Voller with brute force (which may have learned off the Cameroon side) while Matthaus kept the out of form, out of confidence and injured Maradona in his back pocket. Something finally occurred in the 65th minute when half time substitute Monzon was given a straight red by the Mexican ref for going in hard on Klinsmann, it was a tackle that was a tad horrific it must be said.

The Argentineans surrounded the ref and screamed in his face but like most other times this occurs it wouldn’t change anything. Congratulations to the Argentinean though, he was the first player to ever be sent off in a World Cup Final. The game continued to plod along until the 85th minute when Voller found space, ran in to the area and was brought down by 24 year old Lazio defender Roberto Sensini who was playing on his home pitch, a penalty given and finally something to give everyone a reason to watch.

To take the penalty was the king of free kicks and dead balls in the world a time, Inter Milan left back Andreas Brehme. Brehme slotted the ball home to make it 1-0 and virtually have West Germany’s name on the trophy. Rather than going for a winner Argentina decided to hack at shins a bit more and received another red card when Dezotti (a replacement for Cannigia) was given his second yellow and sent off for going in on Voller with a hard tackle, the nine remaining Argentineans all surrounding the ref and hurling abuse again.

1-0 it would finish and would be remembered as probably the most boring World Cup Final in history. It was the first time that a side (Argentina) had not scored in the final along with the two red cards that had many an Englishman and Italians laughing at their arch rival, not first to be remembered for. For West Germany it was finally a win that they had been longing for after 16 years since the 1974 victory. After their failures in the finals of the 1982 and 1986 tournaments there was much relief when Matthaus lifted the cup to huge celebrations with a blubbering Maradona watching on with his loser’s medal around his neck.

For West Germany also this would be the third time they would win the cup and equal Brazil’s tally. The brilliant Beckenbauer was the first ever person to win the World Cup as a captain and coach and only the second (behind Mario Zagallo with Brazil) to win it as a player and coach. Brilliant stuff for a brilliant German side that were the best team at the tournament but that’s where the lovely warm goodness ends as it was an awful of a game from a tournament that lacked any good nature or perhaps even heart at times. The rule changes for USA ’94 were more than justified.

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

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