Italia 90: Brazil 0 v Argentina 1June 28, 2007 at 7:00 am | Posted in World Cup Memories | Leave a comment
This was an absolutely stunning match. I watched it at a cafe behind Robarts library at the University of Toronto. Watching the World Cup in Toronto is fantastic, because Toronto is jam packed with people from aroung the world who already love footy, but then even people who don’t normally watch it tag along for the ride. There is no problem finding a place with the game on: the game is on everywhere. U of T also has a huge population of foreign students who are passionate about football.
On the day Brazil were clear favorites. The truth be known, neither team was actually playing great football, but Argentina v Brazil is an absolutely huge game no matter what the situation. Brazil had won their group, but won all their games by only a one goal margin. Argentina had barely scraped through the group stage having finished behind Cameroon and Romania. They managed to get a kind of wild card spot playing against their arch rivals in the round of 16. It was strange having two giants play each other at such an early stage.
Argentina also had the third string keeper in goal because Pumpido had broken his leg against the Russians in group play. Replacement keeper Goycochea proved to be a revelation. Brazil opened with blinding pace. I have rarely seen a team attack so aggressively. They hit the post and the bar and missed some sitters that really should have gone in. Argentina were in panic mode in the early stages. They were absolutely overrun but Brazil could not get the prize they sought: a goal. Argentina never held on to the ball for more than a few seconds before Brazil took it back and mounted yet another attack.
Every time poor Maradona got the ball, Brazil would attack him with three, four or five defenders. They were clearly given the order to be absolutely brutal to Diego every time he touched the ball. Diego was also nursing a bad ankle injury which would dog him throughout the tournament. Brazil fouled him without mercy.
As the game went on and Brazil missed chance after chance, the confidence of Argentina grew and in the second half they mounted a few dangerous attacks themselves. They had a very dangerous weapon in the fleet of foot Cannigia.
It all fell apart for Brazil when the genius Maradona got the ball in his own half just before the halfway line in the 80th minute.
All of the world’s great players have one thing in common: the ability to assess the game and the players in it in an instant. Maradona had the uncanny ability to know where the players were and where they would go. He had just such a revelation when he got the ball. He knew that Brazil had the strategy of sending everyone to him when he got the ball. He went on one of his mazy dribbles and attracted about seven Brazilian players converging on him at once. Just as they were about to hit Diego he released the ball with his right foot, (and some said he had no right foot!), for Cannigia who was left completely alone. Cannigia was clinical and put the ball behind the lonely figure of Taffarel. It was one of the most shocking goals in world cup history. Brazil fell apart completely and soon had a man sent off for a blatant foul.
Even though it was a fantastic win for Argentina, it was a blow to the tournament because Argentina were a shadow of the 1986 team, and Brazil were clearly the more exciting team to watch. Many criticized Brazil for their lack of flair in the group stage, and I think they wanted to show they were in fact Brazilian after all by soundly defeating Argentina. It was not to be thanks to Maradona and Cannigia!