World Cup Retrospective - 1990


The 1990 World Cup, often referred to as Italia ‘90, was one of the most iconic editions of the famous competition. 

Though the football on display was of poor quality and produced the fewest goals of any World Cup in history, its knock-on effects had massive ramifications on the sport. 

From England’s heartbreak, to Argentina’s frustration, here are just a few of the memorable moments produced by the first World Cup of the ‘90s.


1990 World Cup Iconic Matches

England 1 - 1 Republic of Ireland (Group Stage)

The two old foes met in the group stages of the 1990 World Cup, with former England World Cup winner Jack Charlton managing Ireland.

Gary Lineker opened the scoring after just 9 minutes, and the English looked to be on-course for victory, but a late equalizer by Kevin Sheedy leveled the scores in a tense game. 

West Germany 2 - 1 Netherlands (Last 16)

After having met in the 1974 final, the two footballing greats embarked on a legendary feud in the late 20th century, and their previous encounter took place just two years before in the semi-finals of Euro 1998. 

The Dutch claimed bagging rights in that game, however, it was the West Germans who came out on top in a 2-1 victory in the last 16. Rudi Voller and Frank Rijkaard were sent off 22 minutes in, setting the stage for a fiery encounter. 

Jurgen Klinsmann and Andreas Brehme were on the scoresheet as the soon-to-be champions edged into the last 8. 

World Cup Retrospective - 1986

World Cup Retrospective - 1986

West Germany 1  - 1 England (Semi-Finals)

England’s World Cup performances post-1966 had been infamously poor, with the Three Lions failing to qualify in 1974 and 1978. A group stage exit in 1982 proved to be a disappointing return, whilst 1986 proved to be slightly more fruitful. 

National interest in football had been declining for years prior to Italia ‘90, and it took a run to the semi-final at the tournament for people to take notice. 

Facing great rivals West Germany, Bobby Robson’s men faltered on penalties after a 1-1 draw.  Some say England deserved to win, however, their poor spot-kick record proved to be the difference. 

West Germany 1 - 0 Argentina (Final)

The 1990 World Cup final was indeed memorable, yet for all the wrong reasons. Considered its poorest final of all time, the game was slow, defensive, and entirely devoid of memorable moments.

Argentina were missing key players through injury and suspension, and their lack of attacking potency was on full display. Maradona was present, however he was entirely marked out of the game and later burst into tears. 

A late Andreas Brehme penalty gave the West Germans their third World Cup title, as many as Brazil, and gave Franz Beckenbauer the distinction of winning the tournament as both a player and a manager 

Gustavo Dezotti became the first player to be sent off in a World Cup final, being dismissed in the 87th minute. In all honesty, this was the only notable event the Argentines created in the game. 

World Cup Retrospective - 1978

World Cup Retrospective - 1978

1990 World Cup Facts

  • The poor play on show at this World Cup led to the backpass rule being introduced shortly after - a move created to inspire more attacking play
  • It also led to three points for a win being introduced, rather than two
  • Argentina became the first team to fail to score in a World Cup final
  • They also reached the final with just two wins and five goals scored
  • England’s impressive World Cup performance led to increased investment in the country’s domestic league system, culminating in the formation of the Premier League
  • This was the last World Cup played before the reunification of Germany
  • The two teams of the final would meet again in 2014 - ending again in a 1-0 German win 


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