#QATAR2022| The World Cups that did not tell you: Italy 90

VALENCIA. The World Cup comes to the country of design. Calcio wants its best clothes. Italy wants its third twisted (the first was in its land in 34, precisely and the second in Spain 82). It was the World Cup in Cameroon and the goals from Roger Milla (the African team that has been closest to the semifinals of the tournament), from the dribbling of Higuita, from Gascoigne’s England, from Argentina with a Maradona still brilliant despite his problems on and off the field and of his hero by accident, the “parapenales” Goycochea, and of the iron Germany of Klinsmann and Matheus. The last World Cup of the USSR, of Yugoslavia and of the victories to two points. Come and see…

1-Etrusco, marketing reaches the balls

After the first design change for the 1978 World Cup (it went from Telstar to Adidas Tango) the design of the ball for the World Cups in Argentina also remained intact for the World Cup played in Spain. It remained to be seen if the designs were going to be changed from time to time or if they were themed to be characteristic of each edition of the contest. For Mexico 86, Adidas took the base of Tango from Argentina 78 and retouching the black drawings of the ball created the Azteca. With the next change from the Azteca to the Etrusco for Italia 90, it was already clear that each World Cup was going to have its own ball. You had to sell (the shirt thing wasn’t that widespread then) and the sale of balls was an extraordinary source of income.

On a technical level, the ball registered some advances typical of the technology of that time: the first competition ball in history with an internal layer of black foam polyurethanein such a way that the waterproofing it was total and the ball was lighter and faster. The ball stopped gaining weight in games with rain. And on an aesthetic level, the name and its elaborate figures were inspired by the culture of the ancient Roman Empire. and in the artistic production of the Etruscans. Three Etruscan lion heads decorated each of the 20 triads on this ball.

Merchandising began to make its way in the big sporting events. Today no one conceives of an event of these characteristics without the catwalk of “ad hoc” designs for the competition that will not last more than a year -or two at most- in the front line.

2-Bilardo and Branco’s water can

This is one of those stories that come to delve into the rivalry between Argentines and Brazilians. After a bad start (with a 0-1 defeat in the opening match against Cameroon) of the then current tournament holder Argentina, chance wants their crossing to finish third in their group -behind Cameroon and Romania- in eighth is Brazil. The undefeated “canarinha” had a lot of talent as usual with Brazilians (a young Taffarel in goal, Dunga, Alemao, Careca or Muller, among others), and also played with a strong defense of three central defenders that had led them to concede just one goal in the group stage in three games. Mauro Galvao, Ricardo Gomes, and Ricardo Rocha, blocked the way to Taffarel, flanked by Jorginho and Branco. The tactic was initially highly criticized in Brazil, and many sticks fell on Lazaroni (the then coach). But since everyone likes to win, until June 24, 1990, the “verde-amarelha” played with two center-backs and a free defender.

Precisely Branco, the imposing left-footed defense of Porto was going to be the involuntary protagonist of a story that -even today- continues to raise blisters.

As each other arrived, the favoritism was entirely Brazilian for the round of 16 that faced the albiazules at the Delle Alpi stadium in Turin on June 24. But in minute 29 everything was going to change without today the wounds are closed.

At the said moment of the meeting Ricardo Rocha commits a foul. The assists of the Argentine team jump onto the field and with them the masseur of the albiceleste, who is known as Galíndez because of his resemblance to the legendary Argentine boxer, who arrives with the drums. The heat congregates footballers from both teams around Galíndez who arrived with drink cans. Ricardo Giusti (Argentinian player), takes one of a different color (white) and offers it to Branco, who drinks from it totally confident. From that moment, the Brazilian winger felt dizzy and was wandering on the field of play for the rest of the match (remember that at that time only two substitutions per team per match could be made).

In a moment of Rio de Janeiro confusion, Diego Armando Maradona eliminates opponents with the ball sewn to his foot to thread a pass between the center-backs on the appearance of a Claudio Caniggia who dribbles past Taffarel and beats him; 1-0 and Brazil home.

The controversy started because Branco always suspected that the water they offered him contained some substance to drug him, a situation that the Argentines repeatedly denied. Even so, the Brazilian defender remained in his thirteen and even the Brazilian Federation (CBF) requested an investigation from FIFA and shot themselves when they saw that their rivals were whispering looking at the water can from which they had drunk. He was clear, they had drugged him (in theory with Rohypnol, a powerful sleeping pill). Brazil requested an investigation, but it never took place.

Bilardo and Galíndez denied it, Ruggeri and Maradona joked about it. The second recognized him openly, laughing, on the television program “Mar de fondo”of TyC Sports, fourteen years later. Even the Argentine central defender added a phrase that fueled the controversy even more: “You cannot drink water from the visitor, you are very stupid.” But years later, Bilardo himself admitted it to Branco in private: After a few years I met Bilardo in Guatemala and told him: Wretch, what did you want to do to me? And he answered me: “Blanco in football anything goes”.

By the way, this “tactic” already wanted to use the “nosed” (as Bilardo was known in Argentina) in Mexico 86 against Italy, but Valdano stopped him. Bilardo was in Italy, but Valdano was not. The rest is well known.

3-A eighth by draw


The group draw for the final phase of the 1990 World Cup in Italy held on December 9, 1989 in the Italian city of Rome (in the Palazzo dello Sport) produced a “Group of Death”, the F. In it, the always aspiring England (trained by Bryan Robson and with Wright, Gascoigne, Lineker and Davis Platt among others), the then champion of the last Euro, Holland (trained by Leo Benhaaker, with Gullit, Van Basten, Rikaard and Koeman), one of the revelations of recent years in the old continent as the Republic of Eire (with Jackie Charlton on the bench and with Pat Bonner under the sticks and footballers of the stature of Houghton, Aldridge, McCarthy or Cascarino), completed the “a priori” outsider and unknown Egypt.

The group of death (disputed between the venues of Cagliari and Palermo) was for its tremendous equality. Except for a 1-0 victory for England against Egypt, the rest were all draws. That means at the end of the group stage there is an “everything” tie between the Netherlands and Eire for second and third place (the 4 best third parties in each group then went to the round of 16), and therefore to determine their path in the final draw towards the title. Had to break the tie somehow. (England was first in the group with 4 points and Egypt was left out of the group with 2).

At that time There were three tie-breaking criteria: the first was the ‘goal average‘; the second, the goals scored and the third, the direct confrontation. At that time, Fair Play was not contemplated (as it currently exists). (the cards) as a criterion to exercise a tiebreaker.

So chance wanted Eire to be second and the Netherlands third by the classic method of the cup with two little balls. Pure and hard draw that ended up pitting the Irish against Romania (Which they defeated 5-4 on penalties with an immense Pat Bonner, and who would later bend the knee in the quarterfinals against Italy). Worse luck befell the Netherlands, which faced Germany (eventually champions) in a tense match. The team led by Beckembauer wanted to take revenge for the Euro won by the Dutch 2 years ago on German soil and they won 2-1 in Milan. The match was very nerve-wracking and there was everything, including a double expulsion from Voëller for attacking Rijkaard… of course, the “orange” had spit on the German footballer’s mane beforehand.

But for the own and non-transferable stories of Italia 90, it will always remain that the position of two teams in the draw for the round of 16 was defined by a loteither.

#QATAR2022| The World Cups that did not tell you: Italy 90