After a grueling tournament and the most explosive, high-drama final of all time, Messi’s Argentina finally lifted the World Cup into the cool Qatari air, a historical moment filled with ecstasy, pride, and relief, inspiring renewed interest in this nation’s sporting history.
And being that comparisons have been drawn between Messi and Maradona since the very beginning of his career, it’s no surprise that people were wondering how many World Cups the legendary Argentine striker of yesteryear has in his sizable trophy cabinet.
The answer? Surprisingly, just the 1.
So, in the battle of the G.O.A.T.s, Messi has equaled his countryman’s accomplishments on the world stage, but considering how intense Maradona’s World Cup journey was, it’s absolutely worth digging up the details.
When Did Maradona’s Argentina Win The World Cup?
A 25-year-old Diego Maradona led his national team to victory in the 1986 World Cup, securing the South American country’s second-ever triumph on soccer’s largest stage, the first being the 1978 tournament.
It was an incredible World Cup for a number of reasons. Firstly, the second group stage introduced in the 1974 World Cup was removed, with the full-fat knockout stage being reinstated.
Secondly, it marked the very first time that Denmark, Canada, and Iraq qualified for the tournament, although both Iraq and Canada would be knocked out in the group stage.
Denmark finished first in their group but were subsequently shown the door by Spain in the first stage of the knockout round.
Who Did Argentina Play In The 1986 World Cup Final?
Argentina fought their way to the ‘86 World Cup final where they met West Germany, a fantastic soccer team with key players such as center-forward Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Captain) and defensive midfielder Lothar Herbert Matthaus.
Yet, despite their eventual victory, things didn’t start out so well for Argentina in the final. A poor tackle on Hans Peter Briegel just outside the area during the 16th minute gave Germany a promising free kick.
The eventual shot was easily saved by Argentine keeper Nery Pumpido, but the referee ordered the free-kick to be re-taken, something Diego Maradona didn’t take kindly to and was subsequently booked with a yellow card for dissent, his first booking of the tournament.
To reach their fifth World Cup final, West Germany finished second in Group E (behind Denmark) and thwarted Morocco (1-nil), Mexico (penalties, 4-1), and France (2-nil) in the knockout stages.
What Was The Final Score In The ‘86 World Cup Final?
Argentina prevailed over West Germany with a 3-2 victory in regulation time in the ‘86 World Cup final.
After West Germany keeper Harold Schumacher made a blunder following an Argentine free-kick from the right-hand side of the pitch, José Luis Brown opened the scoring for Argentina after just 22 minutes with a fantastic header. The score remained 1 to nothing until halftime.
In the 11th minute of the second half, forward Jorge Valdano hit the back of the net for Argentina yet again with a comfortable, low-side foot shot after some exquisite passing facilitated by Maradona gave him a 1-on-1 chance against Schumacher.
This second goal came with great relief for Argentina, as only 5 minutes earlier, they fumbled a 3-on-1 chance to increase their lead, all while West Germany fought ferociously to regain a foothold in the game.
Argentina narrowly missed a number of shots in the final third of the match, and in the 73rd minute, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge got West Germany on the scorecard after a curling corner found Rudi Voeller at the near post who headed the ball into the box for Rummenigge to finish with the bottom of his cleats.
A mere 10 minutes later, Voeller claimed one for himself, equalizing after yet another curling West Germany corner kick, but this incendiary comeback would be thwarted just 3 minutes later when an incredible pass from Maradona gave Jorge Burruchaga a clear run at a goal.
The Argentine midfielder placed it coolly in the left-hand side of the net, giving the South American nation a lead that they held until the final whistle — Victory for Argentina!
What Were Argentina’s Fixtures Leading Up To The Final?
Argentina finished top of Group A, facing off against Italy (2nd), Bulgaria (3rd), and South Korea (eliminated). Their first knockout match was against Uruguay who they defeated 1-nil.
They then played England in the quarter-finals, winning 2-1, seeing them through to the semis against Belgium who they defeated 2-nil.
Who Hosted The 1986 World Cup?
Initially, Columbia was chosen to be the host of the 1986 FIFA World Cup, but the Columbian authorities eventually came to the conclusion that the country could not afford to hold the World Cup in accordance with the standards FIFA had requested.
Mexico then took on the role of host in Columbia’s stead, making them the first nation to host multiple World Cups.
The “Hand Of God” Controversy
As much as Maradona was regarded as a hero by his teammates and nation, he was cast as a villain by the English and much of Europe after he scored a, shall we say… controversial goal in the quarter-final against England.
Just 6 minutes into the second half, Maradona ended the drought of the deadlocked game when he challenged England keeper Peter Shilton who had moved away from his goal to punch the ball clear.
Maradona beat Shilton to the punch (literally) by hitting the ball with his hand that was positioned just above his head.
Despite the English team’s passionate appeals of handball to the referee, as he didn’t see the illegal action himself, he allowed the goal, and Argentina took the lead.
A few minutes later, the handsy Argentine beat four dejected English players (including Shilton) with his unparalleled dribbling skills and put the ball in the back of a net, securing their victory.
Maradona scored an impressive 5 goals in the ‘86 World Cup, just one behind top scorer Gary Lineker, the infamous English striker.
Despite the controversy surrounding his Hand of God goal, he was awarded Player of the Tournament, putting the icing on the cake of his first and only World Cup triumph.