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Mexico 19



Colombia were originally chosen as the thirteenth hosts by the FIFA Executive Committee on 9 June 1974 in Stockholm.  However, the Colombian authorities declared on 25 October 1982 that they could not afford to host the World Cup under the terms that FIFA demanded. Mexico were selected on 20 May 1983 in Zürich as the replacement hosts, with unanimous votes ahead of Canada and United States, Brazil had also pulled out, and Mexico became the first nation to host two World Cups. 

However, a severe earthquake in September 1985, eight months before the tournament, cast doubt over Mexico's ability to organize the event; however, the stadiums were not affected and it was decided to go ahead with the preparations.

The Draw

The 24 participating teams were divided into six groups, in which all four teams would play each other once, at a draw conducted at Televisa television studios in Ciudad de México on 15 December 1985.
Pot 1 (seeded) Pot 2 Pot 3 Pot 4
Mexico England Algeria Belgium
Italy USSR Canada Bulgaria
West Germany Argentina Denmark Hungary
Poland Spain Iraq Northern Ireland
France Paraguay Morocco Portugal
Brazil Uruguay Korea Republic Scotland

The top two teams and the four best third-place finishers from the six groups advanced to the knockout round of 16 teams.


The Build-Up

7 May: 18 members of the World Cup squad flew from Gatwick to Colorado for altitude training. The remaining four Everton players stayed at home in preparation for the FA Cup Final, three days later.

11 May: England beat a US Air Force team, 11-0. Bryan Robson and Ray Wilkins were the only players not to take part in the game. Robson had strained an Achilles tendon running around the hotel pathways, whilst Wilkins had damaged knee ligaments. Glenn Hoddle was particularly impressive, causing his manager to acclaim his talent.

"His delivery and his touch were immaculate...Over the next three or four weeks he is in a position to prove himself to be one of the best natural two-footed players in Europe, if not in the world." - The Times

12 May: Robson and Wilkins went cycling, whilst the rest of the squad played golf. The four Everton players arrived in the evening to make up the full squad of 22.

13 May: The squad trained, without the Everton players, but with Robson and Wilkins.

14 May: England beat Korea Republic, 4-1, at the Fountain Valley School. Both Robson and Wilkins played, without any concerns, but Beardsley, Hateley, Hoddle and Hodge all picked up injuries. Trevor Steven was the only Everton player to appear.

16 May: Beardsley, Hateley and Hoddle were all named in the squad to face Mexico in Los Angeles, but Hodge had damaged ankle ligaments and was to stay in Colorado, along with Gary Bailey (recovering from a cartilage operation) and three Everton players (Lineker, Reid and Stevens), who were still acclimatizing to altitude.

17 May: England beat Mexico, 3-0, in Los Angeles.

"'Robson's chosen men have thrown down the gauntlet'
"...it took England a mere 37 minutes to dismantle the defence, the record and the esteem of the Mexicans." - The Times.

19 May: Bobby Robson submitted his squad to FIFA, four days early, despite concerns over the fitness of Gary Bailey and Steve Hodge.

20 May: Potential replacements for Bailey and Hodge (Martin Hodge and Stewart Robson), were put on standby.

21 May: England's upcoming international with Canada was switched from an artificial surface, at Vancouver, to a grass pitch in a smaller stadium, at Burnaby, because Bobby Robson did not want to increase the risk of any of his players twisting or jarring anything. Steve Hodge, meanwhile, passed his fitness test.

22 May: Whilst Gary Bailey passed his fitness test, Bobby Robson expressed concern that Bryan Robson had been unable to train since the game against Mexico.

''Neither of us can tell whether he will break down when he comes back." - The Times

23 May: The squad arrived in Vancouver.

24 May: England beat Canada, 1-0, in Burnaby.

"'Even the scare proved insipid'
"In the first half England were listless." - The Times

26 May: The squad flew from Vancouver to Monterrey, their Mexican base for the first round group. Gary Lineker's left wrist was heavily strapped after severely straining it against Canada.

27 May: England trained at Saltillo in 36-degree Celsius heat. Lineker trained with his arm in a sling and Robson trained separately to the rest of the squad.

28 May: England's second string beat Monterrey, 4-1.

30 May: Lineker trained with a fibreglass cast on his wrist.

31 May: England played a light-hearted half-hour game against a team of eleven-year-olds in Saltillo and drew, 5-5!

1 June: The squad trained in the Estadio Tecnologico, with Bryan Robson appearing closer to full fitness.

2 June: Bryan Robson was declared fit and ready to face Portugal...


First Phase Table
Group F
Team P W D L F A GD Pts
Morocco 3 1 2 0 3 1 +2 4
England 3 1 1 1 3 1 +2 3
Poland 3 1 1 1 1 3 -2 3
Portugal 3 1 0 2 2 4 -2 2
2 June 1986 - both 4:00pm CST
Morocco 0 Poland 0 [0-0]
Estadio Universitario, Monterrey (19,694)
3 June 1986
Portugal 1 England 0 [0-0]
Estadio Tecnologico, Monterrey (19,998)
Carlos Manuel

The Portuguese goal...came after England had failed to take advantage of a sustained period of second half pressure.
"They probably did not deserve to lose the game but...England did not produce the kind of quality through the side that we had all anticipated.
"Defeat now leaves England with a serious uphill challenge...
"...Robson seemed unable to come to terms with the flow..." - Daily Express, 4 June 1986

"A Worrying Start - With Missed Chances Galore!
"After dominating the game impressively, though squandering several good chances, a momentary lapse in defence at a critical moment gave the game away." - Football Monthly

"Of course it's a disappointment...If we play as well as we did today - but take our chances, of course - we can still go through." Bobby Robson.

6 June 1986 - 4:00pm CST
England 0 Morocco 0 [0-0]
Estadio Tecnologico, Monterrey (20,200)


For much of the first half, the Moroccans had looked technically superior to England and had emphasized that they were far from tactically inept.
"...well directed, intelligent passes, in order to make England waste precious energy trying to get the ball.
"The Moroccans, apparently content with a point, made little attempt to capitalize on their numerical superiority." - Daily Telegraph, 7 June 1986

"A Draw With Underdogs Puts England On Thin Ice!
"England pressed the self-destruct button again in Monterrey and, but for a courageous second-half performance, might already have been eliminated from the tournament at this early stage." - Football Monthly

7 June 1986 - both 4:00pm CST
Poland 1 Portugal 0 [0-0]
Estadio Universitario, Monterrey (19,915)
11 June 1986
Morocco 3 Portugal 1 [2-0]
Estadio Tres de Marzo, Guadalajara (18,000)
Khairi (2), Krimau
England 3 Poland 0 [3-0]
Estadio Tecnologico, Monterrey (22,600)
Lineker (3)

"...significantly reshaped team swept Poland out of their path...
"The widely criticized 4-3-3 formation was abandoned...in favour of four men in midfield and two up front.
"...a younger, better-balanced look...
"...exhilarating first-half football..." -
Daily Telegraph, 12 June 1986

"England Click And Win Their Reprieve!
"England soared into the second phase of the World Cup with an exhilarating display of attacking football that demolished Poland in little more than half an hour."
- Football Monthly

The Second Phase

15 June 1986 - all CST
12:00noon - Mexico 2 Bulgaria 0 [1-0]
Estadio Azteca, ciudad de México (114,580)
Negrete, Servín
4:00pm - Belgium 4 USSR 3 [0-1] AET
Estádio León, Guanajuato (32,277)
Scifo, Ceulemans, Demol, Claesen
Belanov (3 (1 pen))
16 June 1986
12:00noon - Brazil 4 Poland 0 [1-0]
Estádio Jalisco, Guadalajara (45,000)
Sócrates (pen), Josimar, Edinho, Careca (pen)
4:00pm - Argentina 1 Uruguay 0 [1-0]
Estadio Cuauhtémoc, Puebla (26,000)
17 June 1986
12:00noon - France 2 Italy 0 [1-0]
Estadio Olímpico Universitario, ciudad de México (71,449)
Platini, Stopyra
4:00pm - West Germany 1 Morocco 0 [0-0]
Estadio Universitario, Monterrey (19,800)
18 June 1986
12:00noon - England 3 Paraguay 0 [1-0]
Estadio Azteca, ciudad de México (98,728)
Lineker (2), Beardsley
4:00pm - Spain 5 Denmark 1 [1-1]
Estadio La Corregidora, Querétaro (38,500)
Butrageño (4 (1 pen)), Goikoetxea (pen)
J.Olsen (1 pen)

"...they assumed control in midfield where the less-disciplined Paraguayans were outnumbered and eventually overrun.
"...the Paraguayans...committed more than a few cynical fouls off the ball..." The Times, 19 June 1986

"England Power Through To The Quarter-Finals...
"Rejuvenated England, with the electrifying Gary Lineker once again illuminating the tournament, shocked the impressive Paraguayans into submission and strode confidently into the quarter-finals of the World Cup." - Football Monthly

Round of sixteen

The six third place teams from the Group phase were (A) Bulgaria (B) Belgium (C) Hungary (D) Northern Ireland (E) Uruguay and (F) Poland.
Hungary and Northern Ireland were the two teams that finished with the poorest records in comparison with the other third-placed teams and failed to progress to the second phase.

Quarter Finals

21 June 1986 - all CST
12:00noon - France 1 Brazil 1 [1-1]
AET [1-1] & Penalties [4-3]
Estádio Jalisco, Guadalajara (65,677)
Penalty Shoot-out:- Sócrates saved, Stopyra 1-0, Alemão 1-1, Amoros 2-1, Zico 2-2, Bellone 3-2, Branco 3-3, Platini missed, Júlio César hit post, Fernández 4-3
4:00pm - West Germany 0 Mexico 0 [0-0]
AET [0-0] & Penalties [4-1]
Estadio Universitario, Monterrey (44,386)

Berthold Aguirre

Penalty Shoot-out:- Allofs 1-0, Negrete 1-1, Brehme 2-1, Quirarte saved, Matthäus 3-1, Servín saved, Littbarski 4-1
22 June 1986
12:00noon - Argentina 2 England 1 [0-0]
Estadio Azteca, ciudad de México (114,580)
Maradona (2)
4:00pm - Belgium 1 Spain 1 [1-0]
AET [1-1] & Penalties [5-4]
Estadio Cuauhtemoc, Puebla (45,000)
Penalty Shoot-out:- Señor 1-0, Claesen 1-1, Eloy saved, Scifo 1-2, Chendo 2-2, Broos 2-3, Butrageño 3-3, Vervoort 3-4, victor 4-4, L.Van der Elst 4-5.

"...if justice was to play a cruel role in their eventual downfall, there can be little doubt that they were beaten by a superior side.
"England...can have no complaints about effectively being knocked out by a moment of pure and irresistible genius." - The Times, 23 June 1986

"England have left the World Cup with a dignity born of experience.
"Bobby Robson: ...there is no doubt in my mind that I'm a better international manager now than when I started four years ago.
"This is a unique job, so different to club management. It takes you two years to get used to it."
"Robson proved sufficiently astute to recognise the need for a tactical change that the bulk of his squad wanted.
"...not enough to survive against a better side possessing the outstanding player of the tournament..." - The Guardian, 24 June 1986

"Robson's Men Bow Out With Honour...
"At the end of the day, the better team won. There is little point, now, in reflecting upon what might have transpired had the referee been in a position to spot Maradona's illicit first goal." - Football Monthly

"...I have to say that as a striker I would probably have done the same thing." - Gary Lineker

The morning after England's defeat - Daily Express headline.

Semi Finals

25 June 1986 - 12:00pm CST
West Germany 2 France 0 [1-0]
Estádio Jalisco, Guadalajara (47,500)
Brehme, Völler
26 June 1986 - 4:00pm CST
Argentina 2 Belgium 0 [0-0]
Estadio Azteca, ciudad de México (110,420)
Maradona (2)


Third Place Play-off

28 June 1986 - 12:00pm CST
France 4 Belgium 2 [2-1] AET [2-2]
Estadio Cuauhtémoc, Puebla (21,500)
Ferreri, Papin, Genghini, Amoros (pen)
Ceulemans, Claesen


The 1986 Final

29 June 1986 - 12:00pm CST
Argentina 3 West Germany 2 [1-0]
Estadio Azteca, ciudad de México
Brown, Valdano, Burruchaga
Rummenigge, Völler