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Mundial: An alternative history of the Football World Cup

Wanted to give a quick update - I'm close to finishing 1970 (t e c h n i c o l o r), and while I haven't decided a full cutoff point (probably 1994 as it's the year of my birth) I refuse to write any AH up to the present day. I will do an epilogue and probably some sort of postscript, but I don't want to get in stuck in a weird loop where I imagine future tournaments etc. partly because I find future history incredibly hard to write but also because (and I don't think I'm alone in this) I find stuff I write that's about things from my own lifetime can get really convergent real fast.

Anyway, there will be plenty of your favourite stars including Barreaga! Barreage II!
1970 - Dreams in Technicolour
1970 – Argentina


The return of the finals to South America for the first time since 1950 (and outside of Europe since 1958) coincided with the dawn of the technicolour age and live satellite broadcasting, to make 1970 for many, the first truly modern tournament.

Argentina, under the ‘civic-military dictatorship’ of General Juan Carlos Ongania, was a hybridised dictatorship built around a mixture of corporatist economics, direct military rule and state bureaucracy which eliminated the inefficiencies of liberal democracy, while remaining stringently anti-communist.[1] The country’s authoritarian turn was mirrored in its football, as the junta established a truly national league (though like neighbouring Brazil, this was dominated by the long-established metropolitan sides) and the club game and national side combined technical ability with brute physicality, seen most commonly in the frequently violent Intercontinental Cup matches between the winners of the South American Copa de Campeones and the European Cup.[2]

Argentina’s national side, were in many ways the great underachievers on the world stage – while they had twice reached the final in the 1930s, they had failed to make it past the quarter-final stage since 1950 (where they finished third.) The shift in government, increased funding to sports, and football in particular, with the hosting rights for the 1970 tournament turbocharging construction on stadiums across the country, alongside a general mass investment in infrastructure projects. 1969 and 1970, the year of great advances in the space race and technological innovations more generally, were “years of lead” in Argentina as Ongania’s junta cracked down heavily on a series of student and leftist protests – much like the authoritarian regimes which had hosted the finals in the 1930s, his regime put great hope into the success of the tournament.

1970 also marked the end of the ban on overseas internationals by the Argentine FA, largely at the urging of Humberto Maschio who had taken over as national coach in 1969.[3] South American sides remained almost overwhelmingly domestically based as did their international counterparts, but Argentina’s lifting of its ban heralded a shift to an increasingly internationalised world cup tournament.

Argentina’s junta may have been in the midst of unrest and a declining economy, but the concentration of resources ensured that the stadiums were either renovated or newly constructed on time, though given the scale of funds dedicated to the task, it would’ve been highly embarrassing for Ongania’s regime if stadia were still unfinished.[4] These venues included two in Buenos Aires city, Mar del Plata & La Plata (both in Buenos Aires province), Córdoba, Rosario, Mendoza and Tucuman, with groups to be divided geographically.

1970 also saw the introduction of several firsts – for one, it would be the first fully technicolour world cup, and would also be the first to be broadcast live around the world thanks to satellite television. Red and yellow cards for expulsions and bookings were introduced, while Addas signed on as equipment partner for the tournament (and all subsequent tournaments.) 1970 cemented the growing commercialisation of the world game, with international hoardings predominant across the various stadia (though this would become much more prevalent in the tournaments of the 1980s and 1990s.) As with previous tournaments, 1970 used the same format, with four groups of four and three knockout rounds – as with 1966, the tournament also had an official mascot, with Gauchito, a young boy in traditional Gaucho dress (replete with Argentina shirt.)


Argentina and England both qualified automatically, leaving fourteen places to be decided: one each for Africa and Asia/Oceania,[5] eight for Europe and four for the Americas, keeping the same criteria as 1966.

If 1966 had been relatively surprise free in qualification, 1970 threw up a few surprises, with Mexico failing to qualify for the finals for the first time since their boycott of 1938. The Mexicans were surprised by both El Salvador and Canada in the final round to finish third out of the four-team round robin, which saw El Salvador qualify for the finals for the first time. Elsewhere in Latin America, Peru, with a talented generation of players, returned to the finals for the first time since 1930 alongside Uruguay and Brazil, both of whom were under new management. Brazil, under manager Dorival Yustrich (assisted by 1958 winner Mário Lobo) qualified unbeaten for the finals and had undergone transition from the side of 1966, with a combination of traditional attacking skill and “European fitness”, which in essence meant that the Brazilians had a side full of technical ability which could also hold its own with brute physicality. Uruguay were managed by former world cup winner Juan Hohberg and had been similarly strong in qualifying, and had issued a statement of intent with a 3-1 win over Argentina in Buenos Aires in their final warmup game.

In Europe, Spain returned to the finals for the first time since 1950 with a side largely built around the aging brilliance of Internazionale’s Luis Suárez, who would be making his tournament debut aged thirty-five.[6] Romania also returned to the finals for the first time after a long absence (having not qualified since 1934), but the two biggest surprises were the failure of 1966 runners up Portugal to qualify alongside Yugoslavia, who had finished runners up to the Italians in the 1968 European Nations Cup. Portugal’s failure was staggering – from reaching the summit in 1966, they finished bottom of a qualification group with Romania, Greece and Northern Ireland. Elsewhere, there were no real surprises – Germany, Italy, Bulgaria and the Soviets all comfortably qualified, while Hungary narrowly finished ahead of the Czechoslovaks. Belgium, the last European team to qualify had the satisfaction of finishing ahead of their neighbours France.

In Africa, Morocco returned to the finals ahead of Nigeria, South Africa and Sudan – unlike the tense finish in 1966, the Moroccans won what was a straight shootout with Nigeria who had surprisingly knocked out Ghana in the preliminaries. In Asia, Australia surprisingly won out, finishing ahead of Korea, Japan, the Peoples Republic of China and Iran to qualify for the first time.[7]

Participating teams

  • Argentina (hosts)
  • England (holders)
  • Australia (debut)
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • El Salvador (debut)
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Morocco
  • Peru
  • Romania
  • Soviet Union
  • Spain
  • Uruguay
The draw, held in Buenos Aires on March 22 1970, saw the seeding system introduced in 1954 retained, with the groups again split geographically, with Group 1 in Buenos Aires, Group 2 in Mar del Plata and La Plata, Group 3 split between Rosario and Mendoza and Group 4 divided between Córdoba and Tucuman.

The seeds were: Argentina, Brazil, England, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Soviet Union and Uruguay. The draw was as follows:

Group 1: Argentina, Soviet Union, Belgium, Morocco

Group 2: Italy, Hungary, Peru, El Salvador

Group 3: Germany, Uruguay, Spain, Australia

Group 4: Brazil, England, Romania, Bulgaria

Tournament summary

Group 1

Group 1 grouped the hosts Argentina with the Soviets, Belgium and the 1962 African heroes Morocco. Argentina, who had earned a deserved reputation for overt physicality, had refreshed their side, though the core of the squad from 1966 remained intact. The Soviets, were also in a period of transition, but had a experienced squad, while Morocco were built around a core of the army side FAR Rabat.

The opening game, between Argentina and the Soviet Union ended in a 0-0 draw in front of a capacity crowd in Buenos Aires, as both sides cancelled each other out in a sterile draw. The game, minus a chance from left-back Silvio Marzolini, is perhaps notable for Lev Yashin breaking the record for the oldest player at the World Cup at the age of forty and winning his 75th cap in the process.[8] In the other match, Belgium recovered from a surprise Maouhoub Ghazouani opener to beat Morocco 3-1, with Paul van Himst scoring a hat-trick, the third of which involved a sumptuous volley to leave Allal Benkassou no chance.

In the second round of fixtures, Argentina improved to beat Belgium 4-1, with Oscar Más scoring twice and setting up another in a performance which drew widespread attention from European clubs[9], though an injury suffered by Marzolini marred the result. In the other game, the Soviets under long serving manager Gavril Kachalin[10], failed to convert a series of chances and were held to a surprise 1-1 draw with Morocco, with a rare error from Albert Shesternyov allowing Mohammed El Filali to tap home and cancel out Anatoliy Byshovets opener. The game, played José Amalfitani, was notable for having the first red card at the world cup, as Jalili Fadili was dismissed for a scything challenge on Gennady Yevryuzhikhin. Despite the man advantage, the Moroccan defence, superbly marshalled by captain Moulay Khanousi, shut out the Soviets, though they were lucky that a Soviet shot that crossed the line was denied by the Austrian linesman.

The final round of matches, saw Argentina ease to a 2-0 win over Morocco, with Roque Avallay and Rodolfo Fischer scoring in either half, much to the delight of the watching President Ongania, who attended all the Argentine matches.[11] Elsewhere, the Soviets eased to a 1-0 victory over Belgium who were unlucky to lose, with Yashin belying his age in a superb performance – sadly it would be his counterpart, the young Christian Piot who’s error would gift the Soviets victory, dropping a high ball into the path of substitute Eduard Streltsov to tap home.[12] The results saw Argentina top the group ahead of the Soviets, while the Belgians and Morocco exited with a measure of pride.

Soviet Union312021+14

13 June Argentina 0-0 Soviet Union

14 June Belgium 3-1 Morocco

16 June Argentina 4-1 Belgium

17 June Soviet Union 1-1 Morocco

19 June Morocco 0-2 Argentina

20 June Soviet Union 1-0 Belgium

Group 2

Group 2 paired an improving Italy, with an aging Hungary, a talented Peru and debutantes El Salvador who had surprised Mexico to qualify. Italy, under Edmondo Fabbri, played a more attacking style than their predecessors in the 1960s, but were still prone to workmanlike displays and often saw Gianni Rivera introduced as a late substitute, rather than a starter.[13] Hungary, long competitive on the international stage, were beginning to enter something of a downward era, but were still expected to be competitive with Flórián Albert leading the line. Both Peru and El Salvador were something of an unknown, but Peru had become increasingly competitive in South America, winning the 1969 Campeonato Sudamericano (perhaps aided by both Uruguay and Brazil sending weakened squads) while El Salvador’s triumph over Mexico was a genuine shock.[14]

The first round of fixtures saw Italy ease to a 2-0 victory over Hungary, with Luigi Riva, who had spearheaded the unlikely league triumph of provincial Sardinian side Cagliari, scoring twice. Hungary, perhaps unsettled by an injury to Albert, who hobbled off after a hard tackle from Giorgio Puia, faded from the game and the contest was virtually over by the hour mark. In the other match, Peru comfortably dispatched El Salvador 4-0, with Teófilo Cubillas, Alberto Gallardo and Eladio Reyes. Peru, playing in a kit perfect for technicolour, played with real panache, leaving the El Salvadorans no real chance – indeed if it hadn’t been for Gualberto Fernández in the El Salvador goal, the Peruvians could easily have scored ten, such was their dominance.[15]

The second round of games saw Italy and Peru play out an entertaining 2-2 draw, with Cubillas scoring twice to ensure Peru shared the points after Angelo Domenghini and Riva had put them two goals in front. Italy, so long associated with sterile defence, were playing with an attacking verve rarely seen at national level, though Fabbri’s unlikely reinvention as an all-out attacking coach was one that many felt would collapse on its own internal contradictions as soon as the Italians found themselves under any real attacking pressure. Gianni Brera, the doyen of Italian sports writing had long dismissed Rivera as il abatino for his lack of defensive application, was scathing of Fabbri’s decision to deploy him in the place of Sandro Mazzola.[16] Meanwhile, Hungary crushed El Salvador in La Plata, scoring six unanswered goals in the second half to win 6-1, the El Salvadorans being rewarded for taking a surprise lead with a pummelling. Their goal, which came in the 34th minute, was against the run of play, but the first half itself was a poor one, with neither side really able to get to grips with the pitch. Hungary, under Rudolf Illovszky, changed tactics in the second half, going more direct, and relying on Ferenc Bene’s speed and extraordinary finishing ability to do the rest. Bene, playing off the taller, more withdrawn János Farkas, ran riot setting a record for most goals scored by one player in a world cup match, with five, with Farkas scoring the last to add gloss to the finish. El Salvador, despite the shellacking, had at least scored their first world cup goal.

The final round of matches saw Italy ease to a 3-0 victory over El Salvador, though the goal that broke the deadlock was highly controversial. The Egyptian referee, Ali Kandil appeared to stop play for a foul, but Riva continued and blasted past the rooted Fernández. Despite vociferous protests, Kandil allowed the goal to stand, and El Salvador wilted, bringing their campaign to a sad end. Elsewhere Peru and Hungary played out a 1-1 draw, with the Peruvians indebted to their captain Héctor Chumpitaz who marshalled his defence superbly. Whether a fully-fit Flórián Albert would’ve made a difference has long been debated in Budapest, but for the first time they were exiting the world cup at the first round, a result met with sadness and resignation on the Danbue. Peru, meanwhile, had qualified for their first ever quarter final.

El Salvador3003113-120

13 June Italy 2-0 Hungary

14 June Peru 4-0 El Salvador

16 June Italy 2-2 Peru

17 June Hungary 6-1 El Salvador

19 June El Salvador 0-3 Italy

20 June Hungary 1-1 Peru

Group 3

Group 3 paired 1962 winners Germany with three-time champions Uruguay (in a repeat of the 1966 bronze medal match), Spain appearing at their first world cup in twenty years and debutantes Australia, who’s squad was almost entirely domestic based but included players with experience of European leagues.[17]

The opening round of matches saw Germany ease to a 1-0 win over Spain, who’s veteran playmaker (and former holder of the transfer record) Luis Suárez came close to scoring a late equaliser for the Spanish. Spain, a direct and hard-running side, lacked polish in the final third, with Suárez often on a different wavelength to his teammates, allowing the Germans to simply mark him out of the game. Germany’s goal, from the poacher extraordinaire Gerhard Müller, powering a header from a floating Netzer cross past the static José Ángel Iribar in the Spanish goal to seal the win.

Elsewhere, Uruguay eased to a 2-0 win over a spirited Australia, who came close to taking the lead through captain Johnny Warren, who’s shot was well-saved by Ladislao Mazurkiewicz. Uruguay, playing a more dynamic style than their more defensive approach of four years ago, had too much quality for the Australians, who were nonetheless cheered loudly by the local crowd.[18]

The second round of games saw Uruguay and Spain play out a 1-1 draw in Rosario, with an error from Antonio Bentacourt, a late replacement for José Ángel Iribar after the latter had injured his hand in training, allowing Juan Mujica to steal home from a corner, after Bentacourt had spilled a corner into his path.[19] Spain, despite the setback, grew into the game and equalised through Joaquín Peiró, who like Luis Suárez had spent most of his career in Italy.[20] The match, despite the somewhat substandard pitch, was an entertaining one, but one also marked by unsettling images of massed army personnel around the running track.[21]

Germany, beat Australia 3-1, with Müller’s hat-trick cancelling out Johnny Warren’s surprise opener. The Germans, playing a passing style in contrast to the fast-running approach with which they’d won in 1962, were nevertheless supremely fit, and ran their largely semi-professional opponents of the park, though Australia’s striker Ray Baartz unsettled the usually unflappable Anton Beckenbauer with his hard-running style. Germany, now under the management of Georg Buschner, the long-serving coach of SV Jena, were something of a side in transition, though several veterans of the 1962 triumph were still in the squad including Uwe Seeler and Peter Ducke.[22]

In the final round of fixtures, Germany overcame a stubborn Uruguay to win 2-1 with nineteen-year-old Joachim Streich (a surprise pick, but one who had an exceptional debut season for Hansa Rostock in the Bundesliga) scoring a late-winner as a substitute to send Germany through as group winners. Both sides attacked in waves, with Josef Maier in the German goal making a superb save to deny Rocha a second goal. Played in Rosario, the match itself was an advert for attacking football, with Germany’s captain Uwe Seeler setting up Gerhard Müller for his fifth goal of the tournament. Viewed by many as one of the best games in the group stages, both sides would be involved in classic matches in the knockout stage as well.

Spain, depleted by injury, eased to a 1-0 victory over Australia, thanks to a goal from Suárez, though the Australians who played with a dogged determination, and were deeply unlucky not to equalise, as Miguel Reina (the third Spanish goalkeeper to play at the finals) tipped Baartz’s goalbound header onto the crossbar. Despite their failure to win a game, Australia returned home from Argentina with their heads justifiably high. Spain despite their failure to qualify for the knockout stage (despite finishing level on points with Uruguay, their goal difference was inferior) laid the groundwork for the side that would host the tournament in 1974.


13 June Germany 1-0 Spain

14 June Uruguay 2-0 Australia

16 June Uruguay 1-1 Spain

17 June Australia 1-3 Germany

19 June Germany 2-1 Uruguay

20 June Spain 1-0 Australia

Group 4

Group 4 paired the holders England with 1958 winners Brazil, and two Eastern European sides in Romania and Bulgaria, with the Romanians making their appearance at the finals since 1934. The group, staged between Córdoba and Tucuman was viewed as a straight shootout between the English and Brazilians. England, still under the shrewd management of Bill Nicholson, had gradually refreshed their squad, though mainstays of the 1966 team, including Gordon Banks, Fred Moore, (who had become the first £200,000 player in British history upon signing for Tottenham Hotspur from West Ham in 1967), Bobby Charlton, Martin Peters and Jimmy Greaves[23] remained key to the side. Brazil combined exquisite skill with a team trained in endurance, having used the military government’s Cold War ties to the US government to do a series of endurance training, with an emphasis on fitness training, with a series of fitness trainers and medical staff appointed to the side from the Brazilian military.[24] Bulgaria and Romania were both competitive sides, though neither had particularly strong international records, with Bulgaria having finished bottom of their group at both the 1962 World Cup and the 1968 European Nations Cup, while Romania were returning to the world finals for the first time in nearly four decades.

The opening round of matches saw England defeat Romania 2-1, with Francis Lee and Joe Royle on the scoresheet, with Mircea Lucescu netting a late consolation for the Romanians. England, having largely refined their style since the 1966 victory were in some ways a better team than the one that had won four years ago, having largely refreshed the squad with players more comfortable playing a multi-functional role.[25] Nevertheless, despite the victory the ease with which Lucescu burst past George Cohen alarmed Nicholson, and he was replaced by Leeds United’s right-back Paul Reaney for the rest of the tournament, bringing a sad end to an excellent international career.[26]

Elsewhere, Brazil ran riot in a 4-1 victory over the Bulgarians, who were subject to a display of potency and attacking skill not seen by a Brazil side since 1962, as Yustrich and Mário Lobo adopted a system designed to get the best out of their attacking players.[27] The Bulgarians, generally compact but not offering much of an attacking threat, were torn to shreds by the interplay between Dico and Eduardo Andrade who both scored alongside Jair Ventura and Dario José. Brazil’s second goal, involving a string of passes from defence to midfield to the overlapping full-back Carlos Alberto, who cut back to Roberto Rivellino who dinked the ball into the path of Dico to slot home, is one of the greatest goals in the history of the tournament, and fired a warning to the rest of the world – Brazil were not hear for platitudes.

The second round of matches saw the Brazilians and English play out an entertaining 1-1 draw, with Greaves late strike cancelling out Andrade’s opener. England, despite suffering a setback when Charlton had to go off injured, held their own and Brazil were indebted to their goalkeeper Félix Miélli for a superb save from Geoff Hurst, which saw him tip a goalward bound header over the bar, much to the disbelief of the English. The game was also notable for it’s low foul count, with both sides generally playing fairly, in a pleasant contrast to the wanton brutality which had passed for contests between Latin American and European sides at both international and club level for the preceding decade. In Tucuman, Romania won their first match at the finals since 1930, defeating Bulgaria in a tightly-contested game, settled by a Emerich Dembrovschi goal in the last five minutes. The game, played in the most northerly of the venues, was held the day after a massive clampdown on the workersprotest movement, with both the military and riot police on the streets and volley after volley of teargas deployed.[28] Romania’s victory, was watched by the smallest crowd at the finals, with only 12,000 or so watching in a stadium built for three-times as many.

The final round of fixtures saw Brazil triumph in a thriller against the Romanians 4-3, with Dico scoring twice and Jair Ventura and Roberto Rivellino adding the rest. The game, ended up feeling like a basketball match as both sides committed to all-out attack, with Dico’s second leaving a memorable image, as four canary yellow shirts bore down on two Romanian defenders. The game, which saw Brazil finish the group stage with an average of three goals a game, would later be commemorated in a series of performance art pieces by the Japanese artist Yoko Ono, as football became increasingly of interest to the art world. England, shorn of such pretension eased to a 1-0 victory over Bulgaria with Francis Lee scoring the winner with a volleyed shot from a deflected clearance. While not a vintage display, England’s win saw them qualify alongside Brazil, though they finished second despite being on level points, due to Brazil’s superior goal difference.


13 June England 2-1 Romania

14 June Brazil 4-1 Bulgaria

16 June England 1-1 Brazil

17 June Romania 1-0 Bulgaria

19 June Brazil 4-3 Romania

20 June Bulgaria 0-1 England

Quarter finals

Following the conclusion of the group stages, the quarter finals were drawn on 21 June, with the hosts Argentina paired with Peru, Italy facing the Soviets, Germany facing England and Brazil drawn with old foes Uruguay.

The opening quarter final, between Argentina and Peru saw Argentina eventually triumph in extra time in a game that burst into life in the second half. Whether it was the sense of occasion, the pressure of playing to a capacity crowd in front of the president, or perhaps the absence of Silvio Marzolini for Argentina, who’s attacking thrusts down the left were sorely missed. And yet, despite the sterility, neither side wilted, and with legs tiring, and the crowd almost lulled by the hypnotic boredom of the spectacle in front of them, the game turned. Oswaldo Ramírez, the foil to Teófilo Cubillas, burst through an Argentine defence too slow to react to a through ball from Pedro Pablo León and smashed the ball past Antonio Roma in the Argentine goal.[29] Rafael Albrecht would equalise before Ramírez scored again, getting above his marker to power a home a header from a corner a minute after Albrecht had restored parity. With Peru looking on course to cause an almighty upset, Argentine substitute Alberto Rendo, who had come on for captain Antonio Rattín scored with a scuffed shot, which took a deflection off of Peruvian captain Héctor Chumpitaz to leave Luis Rubiños in the Peru goal no chance. In extra time, with both sides nearly off their feet, Argentina sealed it when an exhausted Alberto Gallardo failed to clear properly and substitute Aníbal Tarabini tucked home in the 117th minute to send Argentina through, much to the relief of the nation.

Italy, playing with greater freedom than previous tournaments, saw off the Soviets 3-1, though the game was effectively decided as a contest in the 60th minute, when Soviet captain Albert Shesternyov was sent off for a debatable second yellow, for a push on Gianni Rivera. Down to ten men, and without their inspirational skipper, the Soviet defence wilted and the Italians added two easy goals to give gloss to the scoreline, with Riva scoring twice, and Rivera adding the third, with Yashin having no chance with any of them.[30] The Soviets afternoon could be summed up by their consolation goal, Pierluigi Cera making an absolute hash of a clearance and smashing the ball past his own goalkeeper. It was a sad end to the career of one of their great servants in Lev Yashin, who played his 78th and final game for the national side.

Germany and England, meeting for only the second time at the tournament (England having previously defeated Germany 1-0 in the 1958 quarter finals), played out a thriller in Córdoba, with the Germans holding on to break English hearts. In an end to end game, high on tension and attacking intent, if not always end product, the veteran Uwe Seeler would prove the hero, scoring a late winner due to a defensive error from the usually unflappable Fred Moore, who’s decision to hold onto the ball near his own goal-line and shepherd it out for a goal kick saw German substitute Hans-Jürgen Kreische steal in and nip the ball from him, before cutting back for Seeler, who had stepped in front of Norman Hunter to drive past Gordon Banks.[31] Before that, the two sides had cancelled each other out, though England had largely been in control, thanks to Martin Peters opening goal. And yet, Germany didn’t wilt – Beckenbauer, playing one of his many outstanding performances for the national side, began to slowly grow into the game, and initiated the move which led to Peter Ducke equalising. Geoff Hurst, had a goal ruled out for offside, but from the equaliser Germany steadily grew into controlling the match tempo, with England pushed further and further back, before Moore’s mistake sealed the victory.

In the final game, Brazil eased to a 2-0 victory over Uruguay thanks to a goal in each half from Dico and Jair Ventura, though Uruguay were perhaps unlucky to see Víctor Espárrago’s goalbound shot cleared off the line by Wilson Piazza. Uruguay were also hindered by an injury suffered by their captain Pedro Rocha, which reduced their attacking play, and faced with a strong defence and unyielding waves of attack struggled to deal with the pressure – indeed if it hadn’t been for the exceptional Ladislao Mazurkiewicz, they could easily have lost by more.


27 June Argentina 3-2 Peru

27 June Italy 3-1 Soviets

27 June Germany 2-1 England

27 June Brazil 2-0 Uruguay


The semi-final draw paired Argentina with Germany and Brazil with Italy, with both games taking place in Buenos Aires. The hosts, buoyed by fervent home support, had eased into the semi-finals without particularly impressing (Brian Glanville describing them as one of the worst last-four sides in recent memory) hampered as they were by Silvio Marzolini’s absence from their left flank. Germany, in contrast, had emerged from a tough group and then knocked out the holders in the quarter finals, though they had also had the toughest game of any of the semi-finalists in the preceding round.

The game, hosted in front of a capacity crowd and numerous attendees from Ongania’s regime, as well as the German foreign minister Walter Scheel.[32] The game, in contrast to the barnstorming classic played out the day after, was a controversial one, with several instances of hard tacking on Germany’s midfield maestros Overath and Netzer going unpunished by the Peruvian referee Arturo Yamasaki. Germany, opened the scoring thanks to Netzer, a surprise starter.[33] Netzer, running onto a dinked pass from Beckenbauer, drew two Argentine defenders out of position with a mazy run, before threading a ball through for Müller to pounce.

Argentina, possessed by a wave of fury from the crowd, came out swinging in response, attacking at pace and tackling with a physicality that caught the Germans by surprise. Under the direction of their captain Antonio Rattín, they scrapped and cajoled and worked their way up the pitch and secured an equaliser after the usually unflappable Willi Schulz miskicked a clearance under pressure from Agustín Balbuena, which allowed an unmarked Tarabini to blast past the stranded Maier, sending the crowd into a frenzy. The second half was less a football match than an exhibition in theatrics as the Argentines took the lead through Alberto Rendo and proceeded to protect it via time-wasting, gamesmanship, near constant fouling of Netzer and lax refereeing. The game, descending into farce, saw the Germans become increasingly wound up by the Argentine antics, and their rhythm was further disrupted by an injury to Beckenbauer. Nevertheless, despite the provocations, Argentina were indebted to their veteran goalkeeper Antonio Roma, who made two brilliant saves to deny both Joachim Streich and Uwe Seeler, to send Argentina through to their first final since 1934, and the third in a row to see the hosts make it.[34]

In contrast to the gamesmanship on display in the first semi-final, Brazil and Italy produced an all-time classic, the Brazilians eventually triumphing 3-2 after an enthralling spectacle which saw both sides throw caution to the wind. Italy’s commitment to attacking at the tournament, memorably described by Hugh McIlvanney, as “watching a priest cast off the frock and rechristen himself as the return of Lord Byron”, saw them take the game to Brazil in a manner the Brazilians perhaps weren’t expecting. The first half, saw a ten-minute burst where three goals were scored, Italy’s dual registas Mazzola and Rivera passing around the generally excellent Brazilian midfield, setting up Riva to score twice, neither goal leaving Félix Miélli any chance. And yet despite the wave of attacks, the two sides almost designed for the technicolour ages, as yellow shirts crashed against blue in the midafternoon sun, Brazil held on with Dico scoring their first on the verge of half-time, dinking a finish beyond the reach of Enrico Albertosi.

The second half, saw Italy’s never falter as Edmondo Fabbri substituted Mazzola for his more-defensive minded Internazionale teammate Mario Bertini. Without Mazzola’s diligence however, the Italian midfield began to find itself overran as they retreated further and further into their own half, allowing Brazil space to exploit.

And how they exploited it! The Brazilian equaliser, one of the most famous goals scored in the tournament’s history, is also one of its most beautiful, as the Brazilians strung together eighteen passes before Carlos Alberto thundered home. The Italians, seemingly shellshocked wilted, and Brazil’s winner came from substitute Dario José, who headed home from a corner to send Brazil through to face their great rivals and neighbours Argentina.

The third-place playoff, played in Rosario saw Italy win a tight contest 1-0 following a goal from Luigi Riva, to see Italy achieve their highest finish at the tournament since their back-to-back triumphs in the 1930s.


1 July Argentina 2-1 Germany

1 July Italy 2-3 Brazil

Third place playoff

4 July Italy 1-0 Germany


Many finals are competitive, many are one-sided and many are narrow contests decided by one moment of skill. The 1970 World Cup final was not any of these. It was a rout, a moment of national humiliation as Brazil fully exercised the demons of 1950 on a rival host nation. More importantly, it was a crushing defeat for brute physicality, as the Brazilians, possibly the side best equipped to deal with such tactics at the final, simply played through and around the Argentines as if they were marionettes. Indeed if it hadn’t been for the veteran Antonio Roma, the scoreline could’ve been far worse.

The game, despite the one-side nature saw moments of real skill and talent, Dico’s goal from a Roberto Rivellino through-ball, subtly changing pace and accelerating past a hatchet man defence to leave Roma no chance. Argentina, struggling to deal with the Brazilian’s metronomic passing in midfield were left stranded by the second, which saw every single one of the Brazilian outfield players involved as the defence moved the ball to midfield who passed the Argentines out of existence to allow Dico to thread the ball through for Brazil left-back Everaldo to blast home.[35] Argentina, shellshocked and playing to a largely silent stadium (minus a noisy Brazilian corner) managed to claw a goal back through Rafael Albrecht, but the result remained indelible – they were not going to win.

Brazil further added to their lead, as Clodoaldo Tavares, Brazil’s midfield anchorman scored his only international goal, picking the ball some thirty yard out and blasting far beyond the reach of a despairing Antonio Roma, who had made several fantastic saves to keep the score respectable. Brazil’s fourth and final goal, came from Hércules Brito who drove a header home to emphasise the win and Brazil’s total dominance over Argentina.

Upon the final whistle, the atmosphere was funereal, no band striking up a patriotic jaunt to celebrate Argentina’s victory. Much has been written about Brazil’s dominance in the final, their so called love of artistry winning through. This is very much a fatuous reading – Brazil played attractive football, but they won because they were fitter than any other side at the tournament, and because of their military regime’s cold war ties, they were tougher as well. Juan Carlos Ongania may have led a corporatist, military regime, but Argentina did not spend two and a half months before the tournament being trained by Brazilian and American military personnel how to endure, or indeed how to win.

Ongania had built the stadiums, he had renovated them and he had celebrated the World Cup as being the moment to celebrate the apotheosis of his regime’s glory, and thus Argentina’s. Three years later, the victim of a coup by his comrades in arms, he’d find himself tried and executed in the stadium where had watched those dreams turn to ash.

[1] With the exception of Chile, which remained a representative democracy throughout the Cold War, and the populist leftism of Jorge Gaitán and his followers in Colombia, South America was dominated by authoritarian regimes during this period, most of whom were unified by a stringent anti-communist world view.
[2] There are too many incidents to mention in one short paragraph, but the level of violence was such that some managers, including England’s Bill Nicholson called on sides to boycott the fixture. The Intercontinental Cup would shift location and format as commercialisation and business interests in the Far East saw it become an increasingly lucrative venture.
[3] Roberto Perfumo’s move from Racing Club to Cruziero may also have played a part, as Argentina would’ve been without their key centre-back for the tournament. Perfumo would remain the only overseas based player in Argentina’s squad.
[4] How much of Argentina’s economic resources was committed has never been fully substantiated, but the consensus figure remains around 11-14% of the country’s GDP during the 1960s.
[5] The Pacific Football Confederation merged with the Asian Football Union in 1966, having (alongside their counterparts in the Middle East) previously signed a memorandum of understanding. The new body, headquartered in Hong Kong, was renamed the Asia-Pacific Football Union or APFU.
[6] Spain’s national side had undergone something of a renaissance in the late sixties, finishing fourth at the 1968 European Nations Cup, and qualifying ahead of European silver medallists Yugoslavia,.
[7] The Asian qualifiers saw politics intervene as the Republic of China refused to play the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, while Indonesia refused to play West Papua or Malaya due to disagreements between its communist government and those two nations.
[8] The match report being a sole paragraph in The Times perhaps proving the lack of quality on display
[9] Más would join Madrid F.C. in 1971.
[10] Kachalin was in his second spell in charges, having taken over after the 1966 World Cup.
[11] At the same time, the Argentine military was engaged in a brutal suppression campaign in the northern regions of the country. Ongania, ever alert to propaganda opportunities was frequently seen in full military uniform.
[12] Streltsov, who would retire after the finals, would alongside Yashin, remain the only Soviet player to play in four consecutive finals.
[13] The Italian media had been surprised to see Fabbri retained, but he led his side to their first World Cup quarter final since 1950 and victory at the 1968 European Nations Cup. Nevertheless, despite shifting to a more attacking style, Fabbri was a pragmatic, cautious coach and the idea of two playmakers (particularly including one in Rivera who had limited work rate) was anathema to him.
[14] Becoming only the fourth North American side to appear at the finals, El Salvador had also overcome sporting challenges, including having to play their home qualifiers in Guatemala City, due to the increasing violence of a growing rural insurgency, which had seen the military take power and declare martial law.
[15] El Salvador were perhaps undermined by news that riot police had killed seven protestors and injured hundreds more in a demonstration against the military government on the day of the game itself.
[16] Joao Saldanha, the Brazilian journalist, in his reflections on the tournament maintained that if the pair had been Brazilian, they would’ve been deployed in tandem, with another midfielder operating in the Lobo role.
[17] Australia’s squad, much to the chagrin of conservative commentators was largely immigrant based, with the majority of the squad born overseas. Their squad did contain players with experience of European leagues, with goalkeeper John Reilly having played for Hibernian and a number of other players having played in the lower divisions of the English Football League, including former Leyton Orient player Ray Richards.
[18] How much of this was due to the rivalry between Argentina and Uruguay or genuine support for the underdog is a question perhaps best left unanswered.
[19] This was a rare error from Betancourt, who had been Madrid F.C.’s first choice since the mid-60s, though he was appearing in only his seventh game for Spain, and first in three years when called upon.
[20] Peiró, at 34 was making his world cup debut, would return to Athletic Club de Madrid where he had previously made his name. Athletic Madrid, who had alongside Barcelona challenged Madrid F.C. dominance (thanks in part to a relationship with the country’s air force which evolved into a partnership with the national airline Iberia) would enjoy a sustained period of success upon Peiró’s return to the club in 1970.
[21] Ongania’s regime was in the midst of fighting a long and bloody internal war against hard-left guerillas in the interior of the country, and had brutally repressed a series of wildcat strikes in Mendoza in the month sleading up to the tournament.
[22] Buschner, who had won a handful of caps as a player in the 1950s, was a competent tactician, if a somewhat surprise choice for the national team job. However after Georg Gawliczek had stood down in 1968, and the DFB had been unable to agree compensation with Borussia Mönchengladbach for Schön’s services, Buschner was appointed. His record at SV Jena, establishing as a consistent top-half side and a league champion in 1968 (as well as several cup triumphs) saw him picked by the DFB as Gawliczek’s successor.
[23] Alan Ball and Geoff Hurst were both in the squad, alongside George Cohen. The squad also contained new blood, with players from Manchester City, Everton and Leeds United in the squad, though it retained the Manchester United-Tottenham Hotspur core from the ’66 team.
[24] Increasingly strong ties between the Brazilian military regime and that of Ongania’s Argentina would also see a military attaché travel with the side, and members of the Brazilian military used the tournament to meet with their South American counterparts for in-depth discussions on how to counter their respective insurgencies.
[25] Greaves, who’s scoring record in both the football league and at international level remained undimmed, saw his role largely reduced to that of super-sub by Nicholson who recognised that his increasing lack of pace, hindered by a series of injuries he suffered playing for Chelsea (where he was largely expected to play every game) reduced his contribution. Nicholson, an astute man-manager encouraged Greaves to sign with Brian Clough’s Derby County where he would eventually revive his career.
[26] Reaney, a disciplined right-back and superb marker made history when making his debut in 1968 by becoming the first mixed-race (and second non-white international after Frank Soo) to play for England. Alongside utility-man Paul Madely, Norman Hunter and Terry Cooper, he was one of a strong Leeds contingent in the England squad for the 1970 tournament.
[27] Yustrich, a pragmatic coach with a fearsome temper, had been something of a surprise appointment to the role, but alongside Lobo developed a style of play built around rapid passing and off-the-ball movement with technical midfielders who could hold their own against the overt physicality which had undone Brazil in 1962 and 1966.
[28] So much teargas was deployed that both sides abandoned their respective training sessions at the stadium, with an apocryphal story told that both countries communist governments sent diplomatic protests to Buenos Aires decrying their treatment.
[29] Roma, who was thirty-seven, was a controversial pick as first-choice, with longstanding rumours that the Argentine sports ministry put pressure on Humberto Maschio to keep him as first choice due to President Ongania’s fondness for him. Maschio’s assistant coach Adolfo Pedernera would later state that it was Maschio’s mistrust of the younger Hugo Gatti and Miguel Ángel Santoro that saw Roma retained as first choice.
[30] Yashin had originally been called up as third choice, after announcing that the 1970 Soviet season would be his last, but injuries to Viktor Bannikov and Anzor Kavazashvili saw him return as first choice at the age of forty.
[31] Nicholson, a manager who was both tactically astute and a decent man-manager, refused to blame Moore for the mistake, though Hunter, who was deputising for the injured Brian Labone would rarely appear for England after the tournament.
[32] Scheel’s attendance as part of a broader conference between several key CECI member states and their South American counterparts over increased economic links, partially encouraged by the Kennedy Administration in the United States, was controversial in Germany, particularly amongst the left.
[33] Georg Buschner tended to select one of Wolfgang Overath or Günther Netzer, generally preferring Overath for his increased workrate, and pairing them with a more defensive counterpart. Buschner, an often unheralded coach pulled a surprise with the expectation that Overath and Netzer’s combination play would unsettle an Argentine midfield built around a hard-working, physical trio.
[34] Much ink has been spent on discussing whether there was a conspiracy at FIFA to ensure that host nations would win the tournament, though no evidence has ever been produced to support it. In both Germany and England, the tournaments were won by the most consistent side rather than the best (Brazil and Portugal), while the Argentines are sadly remembered for their overemphasis on brute force, often overshadowing just how talented so many of their players were during the 1960s.
[35] The goal, regularly voted the greatest in world cup history, would gain a second life in the cultural world, with Borges (who hated football) immortalising it in a short story, while JG Ballard would incorporate it into one of his many tales of postwar British deprivation.
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As host-nation humiliations go, this makes Qatar falling out of the Cup with no goals scored look like toffee. Suspect Argentine AH's classics are rather centred around what might have happened if Rafael Albrecht (or, more realistically, one of the Italians) had played...

I've never been a big football person IRL, but I love the description you pour into the great matches of these tournaments--they really feel electric.
I did not call Brazil winning in 1970, I was sure they would take the wrong lessons from 1966. I also had a bet on England at least making the semi-final (especially with Nicholson managing, Banks fit), so wrong there too.

Argentina's performance here - having failed to qualify in OTL - is actually quite good considering, but possibly not seen as such domestically. It will be interesting to see how the team respond, and how it impacts the development of that golden Passarella/Kempes/Houseman/Gallego/Villa/Ardiles generation that are just about to break through. I admit, I'm not sure how Maschio's getting the international ban lifted compares to OTL to judge the impact.

Spain 1974 is going to be interesting, because OTL's Spain team were having its wilderness years, so presumably aren't going to pull up roots here. That said, maybe having the Republican government will mean things are a bit more stable and they perform better. I wonder if the Netherlands will be able to win the World Cup if they're not coming up against the home team in the final. The other factor is the weather, likely to be much better in Spain than it was in Germany (the World Cup was a washout and pitches were often waterlogged - unlikely to be a factor in Spain. That might help Brazil reach the final.

No East Germany in this timeline, so every East German football fan I ever meet will not be able to bore me by going on about Jürgen Sparwasser. ("Who went on to win the World Cup in 1974, by the way?")

I hope FIFA don't adopt the two rounds of group stages as they did in OTL. That said, doing this allowed FIFA to hold more matches at the World Cup - so more advertising sold - and made it easier to cheat the hosts in the final (see 1978), so maybe FIFA will still make the change. Get Spain into a group containing Zaïre or Haïti, guarantee yourself 6 games for the hosts.

I feel that England should be able to qualify unlike in OTL, as Bill Nicholson was still doing well as a coach, though it will probably be his last World Cup as England manager.
Funnily enough Georg Duschner was DDR coach at 1974 and Carl Zeiss Jena coach when they had a long run in Europe (which is why I selected him as bundestrainer here)

Nicholson was incredibly disillusioned by football by the time he left Spurs (the increasingly high salaries, the hooliganism of the 70s) but with England at least you're spared some of that.
Nicholson was incredibly disillusioned by football by the time he left Spurs (the increasingly high salaries, the hooliganism of the 70s) but with England at least you're spared some of that.

He was at least still going until November '74, and unlike Ramsey, who you felt had lost the plot a bit by '73, Nicholson was still competing for major honours (even if the league performances did tail off a bit). The hooliganism is a problem though, and presumably not affected by the alternate Brirish political scene here.
So, having done the table finally:

- Hungary joins the 60 goal club, joining Brazil, Uruguay, Germany and Argentina
- Germany and Argentina both cross 70 goals scored
- Hércules Brito's header in the final was Brazil's 100th goal scored at the World Cup


Also, meaningless as it is, Top of the Table per year:

1930 - Uruguay
1934 - Argentina
1938 - Argentina
1950 - Uruguay
1954 - Uruguay
1958 - Uruguay
1962 - Brazil
1966 - Brazil
1970 - Brazil
1974 - Clockwork Orange
1974 – Spain

Background and host selection

Spain was selected as the 1974 hosts at the 1966 FIFA General Congress, which also determined the 1978 hosts. In contrast to the selection in 1960 which determined 1966 and 1970, it was agreed to return to the single host selection as practiced previously. Spain, won out of the five European bids, defeating the three “surprise” entrants in the Netherlands, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, and seeing off a strong Italian challenge.[1] Spain, had recovered from a bloody civil war, and with a prolonged economic boom beginning in the 1950s, as the country rebuilt with aid from the US and France[2] which had seen its football clubs, often with the aid of powerful economic patronage become pre-eminent in Europe, though the national side had failed to qualify for the World Cup at all between 1950 and 1970.[3]

The country had experienced something of a football boom in the 1950s and 1960s as various interests became involved in patronising football – Athletic Club de Madrid, Madrid F.C’s city rivals were largely bankrolled by the country’s state airline Iberia, while Barcelona enjoyed support from Catalonia being the main hub for Spain’s saving bank industry.[4] As a result, similar to England in 1966, no new stadiums needed to be built and very few renovations were required, making Spain’s bid relatively cost-effective for the government of Pío Cabanillas.[5] In contrast to Argentina, Spain was a firmly democratic country, albeit one that enjoyed a long presidency under a former civil war general, and it was widely expected that the tournament would be free of the off-the -field controversy which had dogged its predecessor.

1974, while also marking a return to Europe was a tournament of transition for FIFA, which was under a new President following Stanley Rous’s decision to stand down due to ill health. The vote to select his successor saw Chilean Carlos Dittborn emerge as the compromise candidate acceptable to both Europe and Latin America. Dittborn’s ascendancy also saw a strengthened Executive Committee, under the auspices of Vice-President Helmut Käser and General Secretary J. M. Havelange, which instigated several wide-ranging reforms – an agreement to expand the tournament from sixteen teams to twenty-four from 1982, the creation of a World Youth Tournament for players aged under twenty and from 1980 an expanded Intercontinental Cup.[6] The expansion, a result of an agreement between the UAEF and African and Asian representatives for the latter to support Dittborn’s compromise candidacy in exchange for an increased number of qualifying spots, wouldn’t effect the 1974 or 1978 tournaments, but had been on the cards for most of the 1960s, following changes to qualifying slots implemented in 1962.

The tournament, would also see commercial partners increase, as international firms became increasingly interested in sponsorship, with numerous partnerships signed to go along with the exclusivity agreement signed between Addas and FIFA for 1970 onwards. These firms included American corporations such as Coca-Cola, Kodak and Anheuser-Busch, European firms including Cadbury, Longines, Volkswagen and FIAT and Japanese corporations Toyota and Hitachi.[7] If 1970 had been the dawning of the age of Technicolor, 1974 represented its rapid growth, with the tournament bathed in a sunlit glow. While 1978 would see a new format introduced, which was refined by 1982, 1974 would continue the well-established format of four groups of four followed by three knockout rounds. Spain saw eight host cities selected: Madrid, Barcelona and Seville (all of whom supplied two stadiums), Bilbao, Valencia, Zaragoza, Gijón and Málaga.[8]


Spain and Brazil both qualified automatically leaving fourteen places to be played for: one each for Africa and Asia-Pacific, eight for Europe and three for the Americas, with a final place to be decided via a playoff between the best runner up from Europe and the worst finishing South American group winner.

Qualification through up some surprises – Mexico failed to qualify for the tournament for the second successive time, being surprised in the final round by the Caribbean nations of Haiti and Trinidad & Tobago, both of whom were enjoying something of a golden era at the start of the 1970s.[9] Haiti’s qualification, under Haitian-American coach Louis Gaetjens (who had played for the US at the 1950 tournament) was a culmination of a period of sustained success, which had seen them emerge alongside the Trinidadians, Costa Rica and El Salvador as the main competitors to Mexico, and they won the 1973 North American Championship to reach the finals for the first time, becoming the first Caribbean side to do so.

In South America, Argentina and Chile comfortably qualified for the tournament, though Argentina’s preparations for their final qualifier against Bolivia were thrown into chaos following the military coup which had overthrown Juan Carlos Ongania.[10] Chile, easily qualified ahead of Colombia and Ecuador, though the match played between themselves and Colombia in Bogotá was postponed due to an outbreak of violence following the Colombian’s government institution of antigaitánismo policies.[11] The match, played in neutral Caracas, saw Chile triumph 4-0 to reach the tournament for the first time since 1962, resulting in wild celebrations in Santiago, with the country’s German coach Rudi Gutendorf offered honorary citizenship by the country’s president Jorge Alessandri. In the final group, Uruguay eventually ground out results to finish ahead of Peru and Venezuela to set up a playoff with Poland, who had finished as the best runner-up in Europe.

In Europe, the traditional powers qualified largely untroubled as England, Italy and Germany all qualified comfortably, though the Soviets surprisingly failed to qualify, finishing behind Yugoslavia to fail to qualify for the first time since 1954. Several sides returned to the finals for the first time after a long absence, including the Netherlands who finished ahead of Belgium to qualify for the first time since 1938 and Austria who saw off Sweden to reach the tournament for the first time since 1954. Scotland and Yugoslavia both qualified for the first time since 1958, as Hungary failed to reach the finals for the first time in their history. The two biggest surprises came from Israel and Poland, as the Israelis, having been a member of the UAEF since the 1960s for political reasons, shocked Romania to reach the finals for the first time, while Poland finished as unbeaten runners up behind Germany, missing out on automatic qualification due to goal difference, which saw them enter a playoff with Uruguay.

In Asia, Australia reached the finals for a second consecutive tournament, seeing off Korea, Iran and Japan in the final round to qualify, though as with four years prior, their achievement barely registered on the national consciousness, as the cricket side battled with the West Indies for the title of best side in the world. Zvonko Rašić, Australia’s Yugoslav coach, who had been the youngest national manager at the 1970 finals (leading Australia at the age of thirty-four) would further inflame the issue by largely relying on a core of foreign-born players.[12]

In Africa, the final round of qualification paired FR Congo, Morocco, Ghana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, with the Zimbabweans having received a bye following the DPR Congo’s withdrawal. The final round saw it come down to a straight shootout between the Congolese and South Africa, with the former winning the decisive game 2-1 in Johannesburg to reach the finals for the fist time, and become the second Sub-Saharan African side to reach the finals. South Africa, with a young squad, would gain revenge to win the 1974 Africa Cup, but for all their footballing resources, were developing a reputation as continental chokers.

The final qualifying spot, was decided in a playoff between a talented Poland and a rugged Uruguay, with the Poles winning 2-0 in Warsaw to qualify for the first time since 1938. Uruguay’s military government was initially opposed to hosting the side of a communist country, but relented with the return in Montevideo ending in a 0-0 draw.

Participating nations

  • Spain (hosts)
  • Brazil (holders)
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Chile
  • Congo, Federal Republic of the (debut)[13]
  • England
  • Germany
  • Haiti (debut)
  • Israel (debut)
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Scotland
  • Yugoslavia
The draw, held in Madrid on January 5 retained the 1954 seeding system. Group 1 was split between Madrid and Sevilla, Group 2 between Bilbao and Gijón, Group 3 between Barcelona and Zaragoza and Group 4 between Valencia and Málaga.

The seeds were: Spain, Brazil, Argentina, England, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Yugoslavia. The draw was as follows:

Group 1: Spain, Yugoslavia, Haiti, Scotland

Group 2: Italy, Argentina, Poland, FR Congo

Group 3: Brazil, Germany, Israel, Australia

Group 4: England, Netherlands, Austria, Chile

Tournament summary

Group 1

Group 1 paired hosts Spain with Yugoslavia, Scotland and debutantes Haiti. Spain, largely built around Athletic Club de Madrid and Barcelona, were under the management of László Kubala, a Hungarian of Slovak descent who had played the majority of his club career in Spain.[14] Yugoslavia, a talented side which had reached the final and semi-finals of the European Nations Cup in 1968 and 1972, had largely resolved a monetary dispute with their federation, thanks to the direct intervention of President Tito (who would attend their matches in Spain alongside Prime Minister Edvard Kardelj), had shown their talent in beating world champions Brazil in 1973. Scotland, with a squad largely composed of players from Scottish and English clubs, included veteran Dennis Law, who had spent the bulk of his career in Italy, were expected to be competitive under former international Tommy Docherty. Finally, Haiti, the great unknowns, made up the group with a largely domestic squad, though captain Wilner Nazaire played in France for Valenciennes.

The opening game saw Spain ease to a 1-0 victor, and a y over Scotland with Spanish captain José Claramunt scoring the only goal of the game, taking control of a miskicked clearance and volleying past David Harvey in the Scottish goal. Scotland, came close to equalising through substitute Dennis Law, but were denied thanks to a combination of Spanish goalkeeper José Ángel Iribar and the woodwork. In the other game, Yugoslavia beat Haiti 7-1 with Dušan Bajević scoring a hat-trick, alongside goals from Branko Oblak, Dragan Džajić, Josip Katalinski and Ivica Šurjak in a display of technical attacking football which left the Haitians no real chance, though their chances were severely reduced thanks to Pierre Bayonne’s red card and an injury sustained by Haiti’s goalkeeper Henri Françillon. Haiti did manage to score their first ever world cup goal through Emmanuel Sanon.

In the second round of games, Scotland and Yugoslavia played out a 1-1 draw with Joe Jordan cancelling out Yugoslav substitute Stanislav Karasi’s 75th minute opener. The game, played in high heat in Seville was a sluggish contest, with neither side able to offer much of a goal threat. Scottish captain Billy Bremner became the first player to be sent off at the World Cup for two bookable offences, having floored Oblak with a brutal challenge in the first half, and earning his second for a running dispute with the referee over whether Karasi had been offside for his goal.[15] Bremner’s sending off gained further notoriety in Britain due to a clash between pundits Brian Clough and Don Revie, the managers of Derby County and Leeds United (Bremner’s club) respectively), while it also drew condemnation from former Manchester United manager Matt Busby. The clash between Clough and Revie, part of a long running feud between the two men, would later be used in a satirical piece by English poet Tony Harrison who juxtaposed the two men’s argument with that of the increasingly testy exchanges between Tory PM Iain Macleod and Labour leader Jim Callaghan.[16] In Madrid, Spain eased past Haiti 2-0, with a superb performance from Haiti’s reserve goalkeeper Gérard Joseph keeping the score down, with Spain registering seventeen shots on target to Haiti’s one. Joseph’s performance so impressed, that he would join second division Madrid side Rayo Vallecano after the tournament, and the result restored a measure of pride for Haiti following their crushing by Yugoslavia.

The final round of games, saw Scotland beat Haiti 4-1, with Dennis Law, Kenny Dalglish and Peter Lorimer bagging the goals, Lorimer scoring his only brace in a Scotland shirt. Haiti, who’s goal came from Sanon, who would join Belgian side Beerschot AC after the tournament, were more competitive than the scoreline suggests, though they struggled with Scotland’s physicality. Scotland’s win however, was not enough to send them through, as Spain and Yugoslavia played out a 1-1 draw in Seville with thirty-five year old Luis Aragonés, a former Betis player and Athletic Club de Madrid icon, coming on as a substitute to rescue a point after Danilo Popivoda had put Yugoslavia ahead.[17] The game, was played at a slow tempo, with both sides hampered by a poor pitch. The result sent both sides through, with Yugoslavia finishing ahead of Spain due to superior goal difference.


13 June Spain 1-0 Scotland

14 June Yugoslavia 7-1 Haiti

18 June Yugoslavia 1-1 Scotland

18 June Spain 2-0 Haiti

22 June Haiti 1-4 Scotland

22 June Yugoslavia 1-1 Spain

Group 2

Group 2 paired Argentina, who had endured the humiliating defeat to Brazil on home soil four years earlier with Italy, still under the management of Edmondo Fabbri, Poland who had emerged with a superb generation of players spearheaded by Grzegorz Lato and captain Kazimierz Deyna under the astute management of Kazimierz Górski and assistant Jacek Gmoch. The final slot in the group was taken by African side FR Congo, who, as their mineral rich country emerged from the chaos of the early 1960s into a prosperous era under Moïse Tshombe, who had previously made his name as leader of Katanga before establishing the “Era of Cooperative Development” first as Prime Minister, and then as President, maintaining strong relations with Washington and former colonial power Belgium.[18] Football, like many other areas in the country, benefitted from this as local patricians (often tied to the ruling Popular Democratic Party of the Congo or PADEPOCO, which was a national alliance of various parties tied to Tshombe and his supporters) funded clubs, with Congolese sides regularly reaching the final of continental competition, while the national side made the last four of the Africa Cup on five consecutive occasions between 1966 and 1974.)

Group 4 saw Italy open with a 3-1 win over FR Congo, with AS Vita striker Jean Maku scoring FR Congo’s first ever goal at the World Cup to give the Congolese an unlikely lead. Italy, featuring several of the squad that had finished third in 1970, were stung into action, with Luigi Riva scoring an equaliser on the stroke of half-time, his bullet header leaving Robert Mwamba no chance in the Congolese goal. The second-half, saw a scuffle break out between Italian defender Joe Wilson[19] and Congolese captain Raoul Mantantu, following a hard tackle by Wilson on Emmanuel Kakoko, which saw Wilson given a yellow card and Mantantu a red, much to the chagrin of the Congolese and their Yugoslav coach Blagoje Vidinić. Congo, a man down and minus their captain, were unable to hold on to the point as Paolo Pulici and Fabio Capello both scored to seal the win for Italy. The other game, saw Poland triumph over Argentina 2-1, with Poland scoring twice in the first ten minutes and holding on to seal their first win at the World Cup since 1938. The game, played in Gijón, saw Poland ease off in the second half, allowing Rubén Ayala to score a consolation goal for the Argentines.

In the second round of games, Argentina defeated Italy 1-0 thanks to René Houseman, who had emerged at the Huracán side which had electrified Argentine football through its focus on possession-based attacking play in contrast to the antifútbol which had predominated throughout the 1960s. Houseman, a winger with electric dribbling ability tore the Italian defence to shreds, and if it hadn’t been for some wayward finishing from the side’s strikers, could have added to Argentina’s lead. In the other game, Poland eased to a 3-0 win over FR Congo with Andrzej Szarmach scoring the first Polish hat-trick at the finals since Ernst Prandella in 1938. In the final round of fixtures, Poland and Italy drew 1-1, which coupled with Argentina’s 3-1 victory over the Congolese, saw Poland top the group with Argentina going through in second, while Italy went out at the group stage for the first time since 1962. FR Congo, who had been patronised throughout the tournament finished bottom, but had been more competitive than results indicated.

FR Congo300329-70

14 June Italy 3-1 FR Congo

14 June Argentina 1-2 Poland

18 June Argentina 1-0 Italy

18 June Poland 3-0 FR Congo

22 June Italy 1-1 Poland

22 June FR Congo 1-3 Argentina

Group 3

Group 3 paired holders Brazil with European champions Germany, debutantes Israel and Australia. Brazil, now under the management of 1958 winner and 1970 assistant Mário Lobo were in a period of transition, with only a handful of players from the 1970 squad still in situ. In contrast to the attacking side of 1970, and in many ways against his natural instincts, Lobo’s side were more physical and more defensive, with the 4-5-1 that he and Dorival Yustrich had used in 1970 becoming more counterattacking as a result. Germany, continental champions in 1972, were largely built around four sides in Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayern Munich, FC Magdeburg and Dynamo Dresden all of whom had made significant progress in European competition over the four years between 1970 and 1974.[20] Israel, surprise qualifiers ahead of Romania, were a well-organised if somewhat limited side, while Australia had experience from 1970.

In a game with significant historical context, Germany and Israel faced each other in Zaragoza, the first ever meeting between the two sides.[21] The game, saw Cologne-born Zvi Rosen score a surprise opener for Israel, heading home from a corner after German fullback Berti Vogts misjudged the flight of the delivery from Yochanan Vollach. Germany, perhaps shocked out of their initial lethargy by Rosen’s goal equalised from Gerhard Müller, who’s scuffed shot slipped under Itzhak Vissoker in the Israeli goal. The second half saw Germany’s greater experience pay off as left-back Paul Breitner and Joachim Streich scored in the last ten minutes to seal the game. In the other game, goals from Jair Ventura and Roberto Rivellino, both key players in 1970, saw Brazil ease past Australia.

In the second round of games, Germany beat Brazil 1-0 thanks to a Wolfgang Overath belter of a free-kick which left Émerson Leão no chance in the Brazil goal. The game, billed by many before the tournament as the tie of the round, was something of a damp squib as Brazil lacked the penetrating fluidity of 1970, with Dico’s retirement in 1972 depriving Brazil of their fluid focal point. As a result, their attacking moves often fell flat, with Germany’s defence barely tested. Elsewhere, Israel and Australia drew 0-0 to earn both their first ever points at the tournament. The final round, saw Germany beat Australia 3-0 in Zaragoza, with captain Anton Beckenbauer, Streich and substitute Jürgen Sparwasser scoring in the second half as the Germans eased to a routine victory. In Zaragoza, Brazil beat Israel 2-0 with goals from Valdomiro and Jair Ventura seeing the Brazilians home.


14 June Germany 3-1 Israel

14 June Brazil 2-0 Australia

18 June Australia 0-0 Israel

18 June Brazil 0-1 Germany

22 June Germany 3-0 Australia

22 June Israel 0-2 Brazil

Group 4

The final group paired 1966 winners England with a Dutch side brimming with talent, Austria and South American side Chile. England, under the long-term management of Bill Nicholson had been consistent at international level, making the semi-finals of the European Nations Cup in 1968 and 1972, and suffering an unlucky defeat to Germany in the 1970 quarterfinals. While not as strong as his earlier sides, England still possessed talent, and had a younger squad than 1970, nursing hopes that they could be a dark horse for the final. The Dutch, built around two exquisite sides in Ajax and Feijenoord, played a freewheeling, positional interchange style similar in conception to that of the Soviet side Dynamo Kyiv.[22] Austria, back at the tournament for the first time in sixteen years had a young squad, while Chile were a limited side built around a strong defence.

The opening round of games saw England ease to a 2-0 victory over Austria, with Keegan playing as an attacking midfielder scoring the first and setting up Leicester City striker Frank Worthington, a late bolter for the squad for the other. Despite the comfortable scoreline, the English were indebted to both Ray Clemence and the Hungarian referee for a clean sheet as Clemence saved superbly from Hans Krankl, while Josef Hickersberger was denied a goal for a disputable offside. The Dutch, captained by Barcelona maestro Hendrik Cruijff and built around total football, proved far too strong for Chile, who were reduced to hacking at them to try and keep the score down. Cruijff, who had been injured in the final league game of the season for Barcelona, was not at full fitness and so only played the first half was simply unplayable, leaving his Chilean marker chasing air. The Dutch, scored through Piet Keizer and Johannes Neeskens before Rob Rensenbrink added a third in the second half to seal the game.

The second round of games, saw England and Holland draw 1-1, though the Dutch were utterly dominant, and if it hadn’t been for Nicholson’s decision to switch to a back five in the second half, England could easily have lost by three or four goals, though Fred Moore’s performance in keeping Cruijff quiet was a bright spot. The game, in as such as it is remembered, is probably now better known for Cruijff’s moment of skill in leaving England’s left-back Emlyn Hughes on his backside, though the move itself didn’t lead to a goal. Elsewhere, Austria defeated Chile 3-0 to win their first game at the finals since 1954, and continue Chile’s poor record at tournaments outside of Latin America.

The final round of fixtures saw England beat Chile 2-1, with Joe Royle and Martin Chivers scoring the goals before a rare error from Moore allowed Sergio Ahumada to steal the ball and divert it past Clemence in the England goal. Despite the victory, England had looked shaky with Alan Ball diverting a goal bound shot from Carlos Caszely over the bar, with Clemence well-beaten. The Dutch, with Cruijff back to full fitness, obliterated Austria 5-1, with Cruijff scoring twice and setting up Johnny Rep and Willy van de Kerkhof for the others, with Austria’s consolation coming from an error from goalkeeper Jan van Beveren who came out too slowly to claim an inswinger from Hickersberger and saw Krankl steal home. The results saw the Dutch top the group, with a tired England second while Austria and Chile both exited.


14 June England 2-0 Austria

14 June Netherlands 3-0 Chile

18 June England 1-1 Netherlands

18 June Austria 3-0 Chile

22 June Chile 1-2 England

22 June Netherlands 5-1 Austria

Quarter finals

Following the conclusion of the group stage, the quarter finals were drawn on June 23, with Yugoslavia facing Argentina, hosts Spain facing Poland, the Germans facing England in a re-run of 1970 and the Dutch facing Brazil. For the first time in tournament history, games that finished level after extra time would go to a penalty shootout, following rule changes introduced before the tournament.

The opening game, between Yugoslavia and Argentina in Seville, was played in the evening to avoid the worst of Seville’s summer heat, though given the lethargic sterility of the contest that followed they shouldn’t have bothered. 120 minutes of goalless football later, characterised by Brian Glanville as one of the dullest contests in the history of the tournament, we would have a world cup first, with the sides contesting the first ever penalty shootout, which saw Argentina win 4-2 after Ivica Šurjak missed the decisive kick.

Spain and Poland, by contrast played out a thriller, with the Poles eventually triumphing 1-0 thanks to a late goal from Lato, who stole past Antonio de la Cruz to bury the ball past the reach of José Ángel Iribar. Despite the low score, the game itself had been an entertaining one, with both sides committed to frenetic, attacking football, with the two goalkeepers Iribar and Jan Tomaszewski keeping the contest tight. The win saw Poland through to the semi-finals for the first time in their history while Spain achieved their best finish since 1950.

England and Germany, reacquainted in a rerun of the tight quarter final of 1970, saw the Germans win 3-1 as Bill Nicholson’s long reign as England manager ended in sad fashion.[23] The game, which saw Günter Netzer dominate proceedings as the English midfield, so often the source of their quality at previous tournaments struggled to deal with him. Goals from Streich, Müller and Uli Hoeness settled the tie by the hour mark, and despite Nicholson injecting some maverick quality in the form of mercurial Stan Bowles, who unsettled the German defence enough for Martin Peters to score, it was too little too late. The game, marked the end of Nicholson’s reign as well as the end for several stalwarts including Fred Moore who retired with 114 caps, a British record, Martin Peters (who would retire from football in 1975 due to injury) and long-term reserve goalkeeper Peter Bonetti. Nicholson, despite appearing tired by the end left England with a strong record – a world champion and two third-placed finishes at the European Nations Cup, as well as numerous debuts for young and talented players, though he had the misfortune to constantly lose to Germany.[24]

The final quarter-final saw the Dutch dismantle an overly physical Brazil, with Cruijff and co tearing them to shreds, with the Brazilians, like the Chileans in the group stage reduced to attempting to hack them out of the game. Despite the physicality, the game didn’t boil over as Israeli referee Abraham Klein kept a tight lid on any potential flashpoints, booking both Willem van Hanegem and Wilson Piazza for rough tackles. The Dutch’s dominance was a sight to behold as their “clockwork orange” shirts tore through Brazil as if they weren’t there, imposing on the Brazilians what they had done to Argentina in 1970.


June 30 Yugoslavia 0-0 Argentina (Argentina w. 4-2 on penalties)

June 30 Poland 1-0 Spain

June 30 Germany 3-1 England

June 30 Netherlands 2-0 Brazil


The semi-final draw paired Argentina with Germany and Poland with the Netherlands, with the first semi-final taking place in Madrid and the second in Barcelona.

Argentina, having paired a strong defence with a technically strong, hard-working midfield were a better side than in 1974, with Huberto Maschio (perhaps lucky to keep his job in the aftermath of the humiliation of 1970) having refreshed the squad. The semi-final was a much better game than the quarter-final against Yugoslavia, but the result after 120 minutes was the same – a draw. Germany, hampered by an injury to Beckenbauer (who was replaced by Jürgen Pommerenke, who was a solid midfielder but not one possessed of the same skill set) had taken the lead through Gerhard Müller who had bundled home from a corner after Argentine goalkeeper Daniel Carnevali and captain Roberto Perfumo miscommunicated over a corner. Beckenbauer’s injury, coming as he landed awkwardly following an accidental collision with Miguel Ángel Brindisi changed the complexion of the game, as without his ability to step up into midfield from defence and carry the ball between the lines, the German threat was reduced. Argentina equalised through substitute Mario Kempes, who diverted a cross beyond the despairing dive of Josef Maier in the German goal. Germany would be indebted to Maier five minutes later, after a mistake from Sparwasser allowed Kempes through on goal, with Maier tipping his attempted lob over the bar. The shootout, between two exhausted teams, saw Argentina eventually triumph with Joachim Streich missing the decisive spot kick, to send Argentina through to consecutive finals, and Germany to the bronze medal playoff.

In Barcelona, the Dutch and Poles, both playing in their first ever semi-final, played out a thriller, with both sides exchanging goals, until Cruijff’s “impossible goal” where, leaping through the air, he diverted the ball past Tomaszewski with his right heel (the ball itself at neck height and having already travelled to the far post) to settle the tie. In contrast to the physical tactics of the Brazilians, the Poles who played a similarly patient passing game to the Soviets, took the Dutch on with both van Beveren and Tomaszewski keeping their sides in it. Goals from Lato and Deyna were cancelled out by goals from Ruud Krol and Arend Haan, before Cruijff’s moment of genius settled the tie.

The third-place playoff, held in Valencia, saw Poland triumph 1-0 thanks to a Lato strike, as German coach Georg Buschner made wholesale changes for a game he described as a glorified friendly. As a result Poland achieved their highest finish at the tournament.


3 July Germany 1-1 Argentina (Argentina w. 4-3 on penalties)

3 July Netherlands 3-2 Poland

Third Place Playoff

6 July Germany 0-1 Poland


The final paired two nations who had never won the tournament – Argentina, who had finished runners-up on three occasions and the Dutch who had never before made the final. The game, played at Madrid F.C.’s stadium was less of a thrashing than 1970 but saw a clear winner nonetheless.

The Dutch kicking off, were mesmeric their passing and movement leaving the Argentines trailing in their wake, as Cruijff danced through four tackles on a long mazy run before feinting inside and threading a ball through for Resenbrink to tap home after three minutes. No Argentine player had touched the ball. Argentina, recovered somewhat, with Roberto Telch drawing a good save from van Beveren on the half-hour mark, but the first half saw blue and white striped shirts struggling to contain an orange wave, and Neeskens would convert the first ever penalty in a world cup final as Ramón Heredia upended Theo de Jong to make it 2-0 at the break.

Argentina, perhaps wary of what happened in 1970, came out fighting in the second half, taking the game to the Dutch, and managed to claw a goal back through veteran Rafael Albrecht who had come on as a substitute for the injured Carlos Squeo. The Dutch, not relenting on tempo, scored a third on the 75th minute, as Cruijff drifting into space, delivered a perfectly timed cross for Willem Jansen to score his second international goal to settle the game as a contest. The last ten minutes petered out s a contest, before English referee Jack Taylor blew his whistle to spell Dutch delirium, as the tournament saw a new name on the trophy. 1974 marked a rare moment – a tournament where the most talented side there won the tournament, the fist time this had happened since 1958.


7 July Netherlands 3-1 Argentina

[1] There is some conjecture that a deal was reached between the two associations (as part of each country’s sports ministry) that would see Spain support Italy for the next European hosted tournament, scheduled to be 1982.
[2] Spain, under the presidency of Vicente Rojo Lluch from 1946 to 1962, enjoyed close relations with France, due in part to the French government’s belated support (in the aftermath of the outbreak of a second world war in 1938) for the republican government, and was generally regarded as Western-aligned, though due to civil war ties, it retained cordial relations with the Soviets, often serving as an intermediary (along with the neutral Germans) between the USSR and the Americans.
[3] Their record in the European Nations Cup was much better during this period, but Spain endured a reputation as persistently flattering to deceive.
[4] Spanish and Portuguese clubs, are members organisations, but the patronage of the leading clubs by both corporate and state interests in both countries gave them a significant financial edge over their counterparts in Europe outside of Italy.
[5] Cabanillas became, upon his ascendancy to the premiership in 1965 at the age of the 41, the youngest Spanish Prime Minister in the 20th century, as well as the first centre-right premier since the late 1940s, ending a long period of Socialist rule.
[6] The expansion of the Intercontinental Cup, to include the continental champions from Africa, Asia-Pacific and North America would also see it hosted in Japan on an annual basis following a sponsorship agreement between Toyota and FIFA. The tournament would also include a “Toyota Japan XI” as part of the agreement.
[7] The commercialisation would see FIFA grow to rival the IOC as the wealthiest sports administrative body in the world, as well as establishing a model followed by other sports including both codes of rugby, cricket and basketball. The 1974 tournament would also continue the trend of having corporate interests from the host nation advertise as well, with Spain’s telecommunications monopoly CTNE and the Tourism Ministry both running campaigns during the tournament. The increasingly commercialism at FIFA largely came from Dittborn largely granting Havelange and his commercial team autonomous oversight of marketing and commercial organisation, and while there were certainly some very dodgy deals done (1978 being then most egregious), the proceeds allowed for further reinvestment into the game by FIFA including the establishment of a grants programme to fund the sport around the world, and provide further financial support to its member associations.
[8] The host selection, much like in Germany twelve years prior, was controversial with local governmental lobbying playing a key role.
[9] Trinidad and Tobago, like the rest of the British colonial islands in the Caribbean which had gained independence in the 1960s were in a series of customs unions, both within the Caribbean and separately with Canada, while also enjoying preferential trade with the UK due to the Commonwealth, resulting in the islands enjoying a period of sustained economic growth and development. Haiti, under a military dictatorship since 1957, were one of the pre-eminent Caribbean football sides.
[10] Ongania’s overthrowal, orchestrated by the Council of State of the Armed Forces of Argentina, was largely driven by military disquiet at his decision to agree a ceasefire and reconciliation with the far-left insurgency, and a return to some form of civilian rule, including unbanning the previously dominant UCR. Ongania was replaced by Albano Harguindeguy, who headed a Council of State composed of the leading figures in the three arms of the armed forces.
[11] Jorge Gaitán, who had been the hugely popular Liberal President during the 1950s, had dominated the Colombian political scene since, with both the Liberal Party (excluding the concordat faction) and the left-wing Popular Democratic Action both continuing his policies. An economic downturn, as part of the global economy’s stagflation saw discontent with Gaitánismo on the right grow, resulting in the Conservative government (backed by the military) increasingly restricting the opposition and workers movements.
[12] While Australia had dismantled the majority of its discriminatory immigration policies since the second world war, the predominance of foreign-born Australian internationals, and the ethnic ties of many of the NSL clubs cemented the idea of football as “wogball” in the eyes of traditionalist Anglo-Celtic Australia.
[13] The Congolese Federation, after Tshombe’s consolidation of power, transitioned into the Federal Republic of the Congo, in contrast to the communist Democratic Peoples Republic of the Congo, which ruled in Brazzaville.
[14] Kubala also played 34 times for Czechoslovakia, scoring 22 goals in the process, though he never appeared at the World Cup.
[15] Much like his clubmate Norman Hunter, Bremner was a more technically gifted player than his reputation suggested, but he was also prone to tackling “as if his studs were covered in barbed wire” and had a poor disciplinary record, making his choice as captain ahead of Rangers right-back Sandy Jardine a surprise.
[16] Macleod had won election as Tory leader in 1967 and had led the Tories to victory over Hugh Gaitskell’s Labour government in 1972. His election victory coincided with the death of King Edward VIII who had been on the throne since 1936, with his niece Elizabeth, Princess of Wales taking the throne as Elizabeth II.
[17] Popivoda and Oblak became the first Slovenes to represent Yugoslavia at the World Cup finals.
[18] Tshombe, who had outmanoeuvred his main rival Patrice Lumumba, who had largely been backed by the Soviets, was a pragmatic anti-Communist rather than a dogmatic one, maintaining discreet relations with the eastern bloc, and becoming one of the first African leaders to sign trade agreements with the Republic of China and the Manchuria-based Peoples Republic. Tshombe, in contrast to other American backed regimes in Africa was not a one-party strongman, but instead practiced a system of “managed democracy” which alternated premierships between various ethnic interests, while he himself (either as President or Prime Minister) maintained real power. Tshombe, in contrast to figures such as Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Tshombe was detested by many within the African-American and black radical movements, for his siding with European interests during the Congo Crisis, and his subsequent close ties with the former colonial power Belgium and the United States.
[19] Wilson, the son of an English father and Italian mother grew up in Darlington, before returning to Italy with his family aged ten in 1955. Following changes to international eligibility rules, and his strong performances for Lazio, Wilson was approached by Bill Nicholson about playing for England, but declined, though he would later play in England for Middlesbrough F.C. following a spell in the United States with the New York Blues in the NASL. His Lazio teammate, Giorgio Chinaglia, who had grown up in South Wales opted to represent the Welsh internationally, becoming the first Welsh international born outside of the British Isles to represent the country since the Canadian born Leo Newton in 1912.
[20] Magdeburg won the Cup Winners Cup in 1974, while German sides regularly made the last four of European competition.
[21] The game, aside from the historical context of World War II and Nazi Germany’s implementation of the Holocaust, also had recent significance as Germany had helped broker an end to the 1971 Six Week War, which had seen Israel attacked by Syria. The peace treaty, signed in Munich in 1972, reaffirmed Israel’s territorial integrity and abolished the 1949 Beirut agreement which had seen the Arab Palestine territories administered between Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, the agreement itself an unsatisfactory conclusion for all sides following the stalemated 1949 War. In its place, it was agreed that the Jordanian held portion, which comprised most of the eastern half of the former Mandatory Palestine would become the independent State of Palestine, which would be joined by the Lebanese administered part which comprised the northeastern sector. Egypt and Syria, who controlled the southern and northern slithers of land which had been granted to them to administer as part of the Beirut Agreement agreed to establish a Joint Council with Israel, the Palestinian State, Jordan and Lebanon to administer their respective territories. Jerusalem, which had been run as a neutral region under the UN Mandate of 1949 retained its status. While the Beirut Agreement had never been satisfactory to any of its signatories, it had managed to maintain a degree of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours, minus the odd border war. The agreement by the Israeli government to allow for an independent Palestine was essentially a decision to create a buffer between itself and its neighbours, while also allowing for some gradual thaw in relations. While the Middle East would remain a region prone to instability, due in part to Cold War priorities, the Levant would be less prone to conflict, though Palestine itself was often undermined by various foreign state actors.
[22] While both systems were different, they shared several common traits, included possession-based football, positional interchange and fluidity and a high-pressing game, designed to win the ball far up the pitch. While different in application, its hard to imagine either style not emerging in countries which did not have hockey/ice hockey as their second national sport, even if the style itself was a continuation and refinement of earlier ideas practiced by Hungary and Dynamo Moscow and the 1958 Brazil side.
[23] Nicholson had agreed with the FA that he would leave the job after the conclusion of the tournament with his assistant Jimmy Adamson, who had been part of the coaching setup since 1966 succeeding him, due to the FAs preference for promoting within.
[24] This included the 1970 and 1974 World Cup quarter finals and the 1972 European Nations Cup semi-final.
For Group 1:

Yugoslavia is listed as having 2 draws (Spain, Scotland), and a win. This would put them on four points to Spain's 5 points (Scotland, Haiti wins, Draw with Yugo)
Fun details:

- Germany and Argentina cross 80 goals, barely.
- The US continues sliding down, as god intended
- Argentina joins Brazil and Mexico as the only countries to conceded 50+ goals.
Siam is at the bottom, being 0-0-3 with a -18 goal difference.

Also, meaningless as it is, Top of the Table per year:

1930 - Uruguay
1934 - Argentina
1938 - Argentina
1950 - Uruguay
1954 - Uruguay
1958 - Uruguay
1962 - Brazil
1966 - Brazil
1970 - Brazil
1974 - Brazil
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