West Germany 2-3 Argentina
29 June 1986
World Cup Final | Estadio Azteca, Mexico City | Scorers: Rummenigge, Voller (West Germany); Brown, Valdano, Burruchaga (Argentina)
Tumultuous earthquakes killed 20,000 people in Mexico in the run-up to the 1986 World Cup tournament, but the magnificent Azteca remained standing, and the football went ahead. West Germany took the UFWC title into the tournament, but lost it to Denmark in the opening round. The title was then passed to Spain, then Belgium, and then Argentina over the course of a week.
Argentina reached the final largely courtesy of Diego Maradona’s brilliance and cheek, famously seeing off England in the quarter-finals with an assist from the ‘hand of god’, and then beating Belgium in the semis. West Germany got a chance to regain the World Cup and the UFWC after beating hosts Mexico on penalties, and then knocking out an excellent French team with a 2-0 win.
The Germans had strengthened their side since losing out in the 1982 final. Alongside Harald Schumacher and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge were Lothar Mathaus, Andy Brehme, and Rudi Voller. Their coach was a man who knew all about winning the World Cup and the UFWC title – Franz ‘Der Kaiser’ Beckenbauer.
The Germans were favourites, but the Argentinians were sure to give them a game. Although Maradona was certainly the star of the show, Argentina were anything but a one-man team. They had top goalkeeper Neri Pumpido, plus the likes of Oscar Ruggeri, Jorge Valdano and Jorge Burruchaga. ‘Burru’ was a particularly gifted attacking midfielder who would surely have been more highly regarded had he not been somewhat overshadowed by the great Maradona. And while Maradona was instrumental in the match, Argentina delivered a true team performance.
The Germans gave the job of marking Maradona to Matthaus. But Matthaus’s foul on Maradona midway through the first half led to the first goal, when Burruchaga’s free-kick was misjudged by Schumacher, and Argentinian defender Jose Luis Brown headed home. Ten minutes after the interval Argentina doubled their lead, after Maradona set up Valdano to score.
But the Germans were never going to give up without a fight, and they struck back from two Brehme corner kicks. First Voller flicked on for Rummenigge to score, then Voller himself headed in an equaliser.
With just five minutes remaining, the match was heading for extra-time. Then Maradona poked a great ball through to Burruchaga. Burru nipped clear of the German defence and slipped the ball under Schumacher to score the winner. The underdogs had pulled off a famous and deserved victory.
This was a final UFWC appearance for West Germany. East Germany’s communist regime collapsed in 1989, leading to the reunification of Germany in 1990. The East and West Germany teams were also reunified, as were their FIFA and UFWC records. A final match between East and West Germany was scheduled for 14 November 1990, but it was cancelled due to rioting by East German fans. The reunified German team wouldn’t play a UFWC title match until 1996.
Meanwhile, UFWC champions Argentina had a 12-month hiatus, returning to action in June 1987 – and losing 3-1 to Italy.