Argentina hosted the eleventh World Cup from June 1 to 25. A total of 107 national teams competed in the qualifying round for the final tournament, with 15 making it to the final. For the first time, only the host country, not the title holder, was automatically qualified (this rule has when lasted). As a result, 16 teams will compete for the title of world champion (for the last time by the way, the following World Cup final tournament would be extended to 24 teams).
West Germany was the reigning world champion, but without Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller this time. Netherlands, the 1974 runners-up, will also be without their most famous player, Johan Cruyff. Players like Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (West Germany), Roberto Bettega (Italy), Rivellino in (Brazil), Michel Platini (France), and Mario Kempes (Switzerland) had the highest hopes heading into the competition (Argentina).
The tournament will be dominated to a degree by political events. The junta had seized power in Argentina two years before, and they planned to take advantage of the situation. The country’s tumultuous times had not been suitable for planning, and the arranging had fallen well behind budget, to the point that FIFA considered moving the entire tournament to Spain. However, the new administration would place a high priority on the tournament, and it would proceed as expected in the end.
The set-up that had been used in 1974 with two party phases was replicated. The top two teams from each of the four groups will be placed in two more four-team groups. The winners of both of these classes would compete in a final, while the runners-up would compete in a third-place contest.
Cities and arenas
In 1978, the World Cup was held in six stadiums across five cities. The biggest, Estadio Monumental, will host the final as well as eight other games (including the bulk of Argentina’s matches).
Tunisia will become the first African team to win a match in a FIFA World Cup final if they beat Mexico.
Argentina was one of the favourites due to home advantage, but they still had a lot to show because they had never won a major trophy in a global tournament. The visionary coach Cesar Lus Menotti’s confidence in aggressive football was mixed with some unethical conduct.
In the match against Brazil, the Argentine team’s less sympathetic aspects were on display. The competition between the teams resulted in a violent match, with the 0-0 score symptomatic of a match that was not constructive.
After a 0-0 draw in the second group phase between Argentina and Brazil, Brazil will go on to win 3-1 against Poland. As a consequence, Argentina’s last match had to be won by a four-goal margin. They went even higher, crushing Peru by a margin of six to zero. The match has been contentious because of the conditions and the results, and others have suggested that it was rigged. “It is unlikely that anybody viewing the game footage without knowing the background will see anything untoward,” writes football journalist and historian Jonathan Wilson. In reality, Peru made a strong start to the game and came close to taking the lead.
Argentina’s result was outstanding, despite the fact that Peru had little to play with. Argentina dominated the group on goal difference and advanced to their first World Cup final since 1930 thanks to the 6-0 victory.
In terms of violent football, the final became somewhat obscene. The final result of a match that was dramatic in several ways was postponed by 30 minutes extra time. Argentina scored twice in extra time, resulting in a fresh loss for the Netherlands and Argentina’s first World Cup win. The crowd erupted in applause, and Mario Kempes was hailed as the greatest hero.
From the first group round, Italy, Argentina, Poland, West Germany, Austria, Brazil, Peru, and the Netherlands will advance.
In the second group round, the Netherlands and Argentina will win their respective groups and thus meet in the final. Italy and Brazil, the runners-up in both categories, will compete for third place.
Brazil would defeat Italy 2-1 in the third place series, and Argentina would defeat the Netherlands 3-1 in the semi.