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Italy 19



The 44th FIFA Congress awarded the fourteenth World Cup 1990 final tournament to Italy at a meeting of its Executive Committee in Zürich, Switzerland on 19 May 1984, after having gained eleven votes to the Soviet Union's five votes. England and Greece withdrew from the process in early 1984. Austria, France and West Germany each submitted bids before the 31 July 1983 deadline, but they too, withdrew from the process before the voting took place.

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 the Palazzo dello Sport in Rome on 9 December 1989.

Pot 1 (seeded) Pot 2 Pot 3 Pot 4
Italy Austria Colombia Cameroon
Argentina Netherlands Czechoslovakia Costa Rica
Brazil Scotland Republic of Ireland Egypt
West Germany Spain Romania Korea Republic
Belgium USSR Sweden UAE
England Yugoslavia Uruguay United States

Spain had a stronger claim to seeding than England because although both had reached the same stage of the competition in World Cups 1982 and 1986, Spain, unlike England, had qualified for the final tournament in 1978 and had finished top of its qualifying group for the 1990 finals.  But FIFA was determined that the hooligan element that followed the England team would be isolated and contained.  The only way to ensure that was to make England one of the seeds and assign it to Group F, the group whose matches would be played on two islands, Sardinia and Sicily.
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

25 May: The England squad flew to Sardinia, with manager, Bobby Robson, having just announced that he would be leaving his position after the tournament.

30 May: England submitted the squad list of 22 names to FIFA and the reserves beat Cagliari, 6-0, in a warm-up match. Chris Waddle became the last player to join the party, after his club, Marseille, lost their French Cup semi-final.

2 June: England drew, 1-1, with Tunisia, in Tunis.

"'After the desert rats, the desert mice'
"Terry Butcher, in a shamefully undignified fit of Piqué...withdrawn for the first time by Bobby Robson...ripped off his shirt, flung it at the bench, and sat seething in angry solitude..."
- The Times

4 June: Bobby Robson defended Butcher's angry reaction to being substituted in Tunis, as frustration. Paul Parker twisted an ankle in training.

5 June: England beat a Sardinian representative side, 10-2.

7 June: Paul Parker returned to training.

8 June: England's captain, Bryan Robson, looked forward to the start of the tournament.

"...this is the best England side in my ten years. The only way to prove that is to go beyond the quarter-finals." - The Times


First Phase Table
Group F
Team P W D L F A GD Pts
England 3 1 2 0 2 1 +1 4
Republic of Ireland 3 0 3 0 2 2 =0 3
Netherlands 3 0 3 0 2 2 =0 3
Egypt 3 0 2 1 1 2 -1 2

The Republic of Ireland were awarded second place over Netherlands by lot. Netherlands progressed after being one of the four successful third-placed teams.

11 June 1990 - 9:00pm CEST
England 1 Republic of Ireland 1 [1-0]
Stadio Comunale Sant'Elia, Casteddu (35,238)

"...apart from Lineker's bizarre goal in the eighth minute, they were neither productive nor threatening.
"Gascoigne was seen only fleetingly and Barnes and Waddle, as so often in the past, were no more than peripheral figures.
"...a defence which was almost constantly under siege.
"...raw commitment, physical challenges and aerial ideas." - The Times, 12 June 1990

"Lacklustre Opener For England!
"England's inept display in this opening World Cup encounter drew scathing criticism from almost everyone.

"And those England fans who were so scathing in their criticism after this performance may, later in the competition, appreciate why their suffering on this occasion was a necessary evil." - Football Monthly

"I thought the game was won, but we made a crucial mistake. I made a substitution to nullify the Republic's substitution, but in the end it cost us the game. We had it won and then lost it." - Bobby Robson

12 June 1990 - both 9:00pm CEST
Egypt 1 Netherlands 1 [0-0]
Stadio della Favorita, Palermu (33,288)
Abdelghani (pen)
16 June 1990
Netherlands 0 England 0 [0-0]
Stadio Comunale Sant'Elia, Casteddu (35,267)

"In daring to play the Netherlands at their own sweeping game, Bobby Robson staked his own reputation, and England's place in the last 16 of the World Cup finals, here on Saturday.
"England, inspired by the manager's unprecedented tactical ploy, collected significantly more than a point from their enthralling moral victory.
" "We were lucky to draw," was {Ruud] Gullit's honest and accurate assessment.
"...no one shone more brilliantly than Gascoigne (Bobby Robson: He was superb from start to finish)." - The Times, 18 June 1990

"Robson's Sweeper Gamble Points To Success
"England emerged as credible World Cup challengers with this exhilarating display against the European champions.
"Though, once again, England had to be satisfied with a single point, their performance suggested that, after their poor show against Ireland, they were now being rated as potential winners of the World Cup."
- Football Monthly

17 June 1990 - 5:00pm CEST
Egypt 0 Republic of Ireland 0 [0-0]
Stadio della Favorita, Palermu (33,288)
21 June 1990 - both 9:00pm CEST
England 1 Egypt 0 [0-0]
Stadio Comunale Sant'Elia, Casteddu (34,959)
Netherlands 1 Republic of Ireland 1 [1-0]
Stadio della Favorita, Palermu (33,288)

"Against expectations, the England manager chose to forsake the sweeper system that had worked so convincingly against the Netherlands.
"...the Egyptian technique...and their defensive formation were sources of far greater frustration for England.
"England appeared to be disjointed and uninspired." - The Times, 22 June 1990

"Wright's Goal Clinches England's Passage
"England moved comfortably into the knockout phase of the tournament with a performance that certainly did not earn a high rating but, at this stage of the competition, it's results that count.
"Only with the final whistle could England relax in the knowledge that they had safely topped the closest of all qualifying groups." - Football Monthly

"We came top of the group and we were the only side to beat Egypt. You can't do much better than that." - Bobby Robson

The Second Phase

23 June 1990 - all CEST
5:00pm - Cameroon 2 Colombia 1 [0-0]
Stadio San Paolo, Napoli (50,026)
Milla (2)
9:00pm -
Czechoslovakia 4 Costa Rica 1
Stadio San Nicola, Bari (47,673)
Skuhravý (3), Kubík
24 June 1990
5:00pm - Argentina 1 Brazil 0 [0-0]
Stadio delle Alpi, Torino, Piedmont (61,381)

Ricardo Gomes

9:00pm -
West Germany 2 Netherlands 1
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano (74,559)
Klinsmann, Brehme
R.Koemen (pen)

Rijkaard Völler

25 June 1990
5:00pm -
Republic of Ireland 0 Romania 0
AET [0-0] & Penalties [5-4]
Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genova (31,318)
Penalty Shoot-out:- Hagi 1-0, Sheedy 1-1, Lupu 2-1, Houghton 2-2, Rotariu 3-2, Townsend 3-3, Lupsecu 4-3, Cascarino 4-4, Timofte saved, O'Leary 4-5
9:00pm - Italy 2 Uruguay 0 [0-0]
Stadio Olimpico, Roma (73,303)
Schillaci, Serena
26 June 1990
5:00pm - Yugoslavia 2 Spain 1 [0-0] AET [1-1]
Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi, Verona(34,822)
Stojković (2)
9:00pm - England 1 Belgium 0 [0-0] AET [0-0]
Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna (34,520)

"The finale was spectacular and almost unbearably dramatic.
"England, though elated and relieved, were also mentally drained and physically exhausted.
"The foundation of the victory was a team spirit which refused to yield...
"Belgium, who struck the woodwork twice, were left with nothing to show for their technical superiority." - The Times, 27 June 1990

"Platt Snatches Last-Minute victory For England
"Though outplayed for lengthy periods, England battled against adversity and, in the end, deserved their hard-won success.
"England's patience, confidence, character and skill had finally won the day."
- Football Monthly

Round of sixteen

The six third place teams from the Group phase were (A) Austria (B) Argentina (C) Scotland (D) Colombia (E) Uruguay and (F) Netherlands.
Austria and Scotland 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

30 June 1990 - all CEST
5:00pm - Argentina 0 Yugoslavia 0 [0-0]
AET [0-0] & Penalties [3-2]
Stadio Comunale, Firenze (38,971)
Penalty Shoot-out:- Serrizuela 1-0, Stojković hit bar, Burrachaga 2-0, Prosinečki 2-1, Maradona saved, Savićević 2-2, Troglio hit post, Brnović saved, Dezotti 3-2, Hadžibegić saved.
9:00pm - Italy 1 Republic of Ireland 0 [1-0]
Stadio Olimpico, Roma (73,303)
1 July 1990
5:00pm -
West Germany 1 Czechoslovakia 0 [1-0]
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano (73,347)
Matthäus (pen)
9:00pm - Cameroon 2 England 3 [0-1]
AET [2-2]
Stadio San Paolo, Napoli (55,205)
Kundé (pen), Ekéké
Platt, Lineker (2 pens)

"Bleeding and drained of energy, they stood tottering on the edge of elimination...
"For spirit alone, Bobby Robson's side deserves the utmost credit. At times, it was all they had to protect themselves.
"...protracted and ultimately enthralling quarter-final..." - The Times, 2 July 1990

"England Saved By Shilton - And Two Penalties!
"The gods smiled on England in Naples. And a night that was just seven minutes from humiliation and disgrace ended in triumph...
"The referee's final whistle must have taken on the glory of a Strauss waltz for manager Robson on, surely, the longest - and possibly the most traumatic - night of his life?" - Football Monthly

Semi Finals

3 July 1990 - both 8:00pm CEST
Argentina 1 Italy 1 [0-1]
AET [1-1] & Penalties [4-3]
Stadio San Paolo, Napoli (59,978)
Penalty Shoot-out:- Baresi 1-0, Serrizuela 1-1, Baggio 2-1, Burrachaga 2-2, De Agostini 3-2, Olarticoechea 3-3, Donadini saved, Maradona 4-3, Serena saved
4 July 1990
West Germany 1 England 1 [0-0]
AET [1-1] & Penalties [4-3]
Stadio delle Alpi, Torino
Parker OG
Penalty Shoot-out:- Lineker 1-0, Brehme 1-1, Beardsley 2-1, Matthäus 2-2, Platt 3-2, Riedle 3-3, Pearce saved, Thon 4-3, Waddle over bar

"No one could have predicted that the Germans, the highest scorers in the competition, would be kept so subdued for so long.
"England rose to an occasion which was a new experience for all of them...
"It was indisputably their finest display since they opened their challenge...
"...the most enthralling of the World Cup." - The Times, 5 July 1990

"Until the West Germany game England were a hybrid, a mixture of faces old and new striving towards a common end but barely a team. That all changed on Wednesday night.
"Paul Gascoigne...is the brightest jewel in Robson's bequest. "He has probably been the best young player in this tournament," said Robson, "and I would think he has a terrific future." - The Guardian, 6 July 1990

"England Take Their Leave With Honour...
"This game will stand alongside the 1966 World Cup Final and the 1970 quarter-final as another classic encounter between two great footballing nations.
"England were out, yet this was their best-ever achievement on foreign soil. And they went out with a performance that will rank among England's finest in competitive football." - Football Monthly


Third Place Play-off

7 July 1990 - 8:00pm CEST
Italy 2 England 1 [0-0]
Stadio San Nicola, Bari (51,426)
R.Baggio, Schillaci (pen)

...this match was played in a predictably generous and amicable spirit until Baggio intervened.
"[David Platt]...has confirmed that he is a prominent member of the new breed. So have Gascoigne...Walker and Wright." - The Times, 9 July 1990

"Rising Star Platt Scores England's Final Goal.
"At the end of the day, Italy deserved their victory in this consolation match. England, who might have won the World Cup under the old rules, had to satisfy themselves with fourth place." - Football Monthly

"During the World Cup you've changed to a more continental style and you've been one of the revelations of the tournament." - Azeglio Vicini, Italy Coach

"It is so rewarding that we have some world-class players at our disposal. We can now give anyone in the world a game. English football is back in its rightful place." - Bobby Robson


The 1990 Final

8 July 1990 - 8:00pm CEST
Argentina 0 West Germany 1 [0-0]
Stadio Olimpico, Roma (73,603)
Brehme (pen)
Monzón, Dezotti

Surprising even their most enthusiastic supporters, England reached the semi-finals for only the second time in their best World Cup showing outside their triumph at friendly Wembley Stadium in 1966.  Indeed, England's performance after the group stage was one of the few highlights as the standard of World Cup finals football sank to new depths with most of the teams bent on negative and defensive play calculated to avoid a loss rather than to win.  

While England played much better than expected, they had a great deal of good fortune along the way, and it is fair to say determination and opportunism, more than anything else, took them to the brink of the final match.  Only last-gasp efforts got them by Belgium and Cameroon in round-of-16 and quarterfinal matches which saw them largely outplayed.  Belgium hit the woodwork twice and made many more chances, although a John Barnes goal was disallowed on a plainly mistaken offside call.  David Platt's extraordinary swivelled volley from a Paul Gascoigne free kick in the last minute of extra time sent England through to the quarterfinals.  Cameroon shocked England and had them on the run, and only the African team's clumsy and naive defending prevented an upset.  Gary Lineker's penalty kick only seven minutes from the end of regulation time saved England from elimination, and his second penalty kick during extra-time put them in the semi-finals. 

England saved their best for their old rivals, West Germany, and did well to take the semi-final to penalty kicks in their third successive extra-time match.  West Germany's regulation-time goal--a crazy looping hop over stranded goalkeeper Peter Shilton after Andreas Brehme's shot from a free kick tap-on struck advancing defender Paul Parker--was lucky, while Lineker's equalizer 10 minutes from the end of regulation time was well-taken.  Both teams hit the woodwork in extra time.  Yet on the whole, the Germans enjoyed the greater part of the play, and the stronger team advanced to the final.

Still suffering from their cruel semi-final exits on penalty kicks, both England and Italy treated the third-place match rather casually, perhaps because it could furnish no consolation at all.  Although Italy deserved their 2-1 victory, England deserved the warm welcome they got on reaching home, their stock considerably higher than on their departure a month earlier.