World Cup Retrospective - 1982


The 1982 World Cup is synonymous with one player - Paolo Rossi. The Italian great guided his country to victory with a stunning hat-trick against favourites Brazil before scoring again in the final. 

Forty years on, the 1982 edition of the World Cup remains one of its very best and most famous. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and revisit the world as it was at the start of the 1980s.


1982 World Cup Group Stage And Teams

Spain was selected as the host of this World Cup for the first-time ever, and automatically qualified for the tournament as a result. Champions Argentina, now with the incomparable Diego Maradona, also qualified by default. 

Whilst there were several good teams heading to Spain, Brazil were the heavy favourites to win the competition due to their outstanding squad. 

The Selecao boasted world-class players in virtually every position, each one a footballing genius. Sócrates, Zico, Leandro, Èder, and Falcāo were just a select few of Brazil’s players, and many tipped them for a fourth World Cup title. 

England qualified for their first World Cup since 1970, whilst Scotland made it three on the bounce. Also in the tournament were Northern Ireland, meaning that the only British Isles member absent were Wales - absent from every World Cup since 1958. 

World Cup Retrospective - 1978

World Cup Retrospective - 1978

Group Winners 

Poland, West Germany, Belgium, England, Northern Ireland, and Brazil were the group-winners and would be joined in the next round by Italy, Austria, Argentina, France, Spain, and the Soviet Union. 

As one could have expected, Brazil’s superstars grabbed all the headlines, scoring 10 goals in their first three games, despite briefly trailing to Scotland in their 4-1 victory. Northern Ireland achieved a famous victory over Spain, whilst England avoided defeat in all of their group games. 

1982 World Cup Knockout Rounds And Final 

The second group stage featured four winners, each meeting in the semi-finals. Poland were impressive yet again, whilst England exited their group despite not losing any of their games. 

Northern Ireland’s heroic adventure ended with a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of the French, whilst Brazil were dumped out in shocking fashion. 

Brazil vs Italy

One of the greatest football matches of all time occurred on 5 July 1982 when Brazil faced Italy. Considered the two best sides at the tournament, Brazil’s attacking prowess and Italy’s defensive solidity were polar opposites. While most expected a close game, most people were in unanimous agreement that Brazil would win and go on to lift the trophy. 

However, a Paolo Rossi hat-trick sank the favourites and forever changed the way the Brazilians approached the game of football. The slick passing of the 1970 side seemed a lifetime ago, and the defeat was seen as a national embarrassment. 

Italy would go on to face Poland in the semi-finals, where they won 2-0. 

11 July 1982

West Germany reached yet another World Cup final, and hoped to repeat their heroics of 1974. 

They were, however, unable to trouble the high-flying Italians and suffered a 3-1 defeat. Rossi scored his 6th goal of the competition to pick up both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards as his country lifted its first World Cup since 1938. 

The first Spanish World Cup was an enormous success, and the legacy of the 1982 World Cup will never be forgotten. 

World Cup Retrospective - 1966

World Cup Retrospective - 1966

1982 World Cup Fun Facts

  • This was the second World Cup in a row where the final ended 3-1
  • Dino Zoff, 40, became the oldest World Cup-winning captain
  • England were knocked out of this tournament despite not losing a game
  • Third World Cup in a row where Scotland missed out on advancing due to goal difference
  • The official World Cup mascot was an anthropomorphised orange named Naranjito 
  • Italy followed Brazil by winning its third World Cup 


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