Mexico 1970 World Cup

The World Cup in Mexico would see, arguably, the greatest football side ever to have played the beautiful game.  The Brazil side, that ultimately would smash Italy by four goals to one in the final, contained amongst others Pele, Gerson, Tostao, Rivelino, Jairzinho and Carlos Alberto, some of the best players the game has ever known.  FIFA decided once again to keep the format the same as the two previous World Cups as it had been deemed hugely successful.  The 1970 finals was also home to a number of tournament firsts.  Firstly, in the event of a tie on points in the group stage, goal difference would now be used to settle the outcome, rather than a play off or goal average.  Secondly, the Mexico tournament would be the first to involve substitutions and the use of yellow and red cards to show when a player had been booked and when a player had been sent off.  As with the previous tournament, this one began with controversy as England captain, Bobby Moore was arrested for the supposed theft of a bracelet from a jeweler in Colombia.  He was later released on bail and the charges were eventually dropped.

Brazil was drawn in a group with Czechoslovakia, Romania and defending World Champion’s England.  In their opening game against the Czech’s they fell behind to an early goal but stormed back to win four goals to one.  The most memorable moment being Pele’s audacious attempted lob from just inside his own half, which missed by a fraction.  Brazil’s third game of the group was a 3 – 2 victory over Romania, but it was the second group game against England that attracted all the attention of the fans and the media alike.  Dubbed the “Battle of the Champion’s”, the game was an entertaining affair that was remembered for a few moments of brilliance, the most notable being the miraculous save by England ‘keeper Gordon Banks from a goal bound header from Pele.  The Brazilian legend later admitted that he was already shouting “Goal!” and then looked in amazement as Banks was able to claw his header up and over the bar to safety.  A solitary goal from Jairzinho was enough to give Brazil the two points but an everlasting image was created at the end of the game when Bobby Moore and Pele exchanged shirts at the end of the game, the black and white contrast being used for anti-racism campaigns for years to come.  Two one nil victories by England were enough to take them through with Brazil to the quarter finals.

Brazil and England were joined in the quarter finals by West Germany, Italy, Uruguay, host nation Mexico, Peru and the Soviet Union.  Brazil was paired with South American cousins Peru.  In what was an attacking affair, the Brazilian’s triumphed by four goals to two with goals from Rivelino, Tostao (2) and Jairzinho, who had scored in his fourth consecutive game.  In a rematch of the previous final, England raced into a two goal lead against rivals West Germany.  A mistake from reserve ‘keeper Peter Bonetti let the German’s back into the match.  England coach Alf Ramsey took off England star Bobby Charlton which freed up Franz Beckenbauer who, given the freedom to attack, led Germany to a 3 – 2 extra time win and ended the reign of England as World Champions.  Two time winners Italy began to show their true colours by thrashing host nation Mexico by four goals to one and were joined by twice winners Uruguay who overcame the USSR with a goal, five minutes before the end of extra time.

The four semifinalists’ had a combined seven World Cup’s between them.  In a rematch of the 1950 World Cup final, Brazil were paired with fellow South American’s Uruguay whilst West Germany and Italy contested the other in an all European affair.  Brazil was able to gain revenge for the defeat in 1950 with a win by three goals to one despite, once again going one nil down.  Jairzinho scored his sixth goal of the tournament which now meant he had scored in five consecutive games.  The game saw another highlight from Pele, when an audacious dummy around the Uruguayan ‘keeper left him with an open goal but an acute angle.  What would have been one of the greatest goals of the World Cup wasn’t to be as he put the ball narrowly wide.  The second semifinal saw a game that has been labeled the greatest World Cup game ever.  The Italian’s overcame the German’s 4 – 3 after extra time.  The Italian’s scored after eight minutes and held the lead until the ninetieth minute when the German’s grabbed a last gasp equalizer.  Extra time saw five goals scored including a brace from German star Gerd Muller, who took his tournament total to ten and won him the golden boot.  Muller scored his country’s third goal which leveled the match after 110 minutes only for the Italian’s Gianni Rivera to volley home the winner less than sixty seconds later.

The final would see whoever emerged victorious crowned World Champion’s for the third time and be awarded the Jules Rimet Trophy to keep.  It was a game that saw a massive contrast between the all out attacking flair of the Brazilian’s and the cagey defensive nature of the Italian’s.  The expansive style of the South American’s saw them emerge victorious in a one sided game the finish 4 – 1.  Brazil took the lead through Pele, who netted his fourth of the tournament, with a header from a Rivelino cross.  Italy was allowed back into the game due a defensive mistake from Brazil and the score remained tied at half time.  In the second half Italy were simply unable to deal with wave after wave of Brazilian attack.  Gerson added the second and Jairzinho, who had now scored in every single game, a record that has never been matched, the third.  The fourth goal was simply team football at its best and will be recorded as one of football’s great goals.  A flowing passing move which featured a number of Brazilian players culminated when Pele laid the ball into the path of the onrushing Carlos Alberto who hammered the ball into the back of the net from the edge of the penalty area.  It was football as the game should be played.  Brazil had their fourth goal and their third World Cup.  Maria Zagallo became the first person to win the World Cup as both a player and a coach and Pele had his third World Cup winner’s medal.  Surprisingly, given the manner and style of victory, it would be Brazil’s last World Cup victory for 24 years.


Matches: 32
Goals: 95 (average 3 per game)
Attendance: 1 603 975 (average 50 124 per match)
Golden Boot Winner: Gerd Muller (West Germany) 10 goals

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