Cup Special: Hermanos host and lead the 11th edition of the World Cup

Brazil, the "Moral champion," had a strong campaign and finished third.

In preparation for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Sambafoot releases a compilation of all previous World Cup iterations. We shall discuss the 11th edition, which took place in 1978, this week.

Argentina, specifically, hosted the 1978 FIFA World Cup, which took place in South America. The brothers took advantage of the chance to play at home and took home the prestigious championship of the world’s most significant football tournament for the first time.

The competition was held from June 1 through June 25 of the same year. Six stadiums in five different cities—Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Mar del Plata, Rosario, and Mendoza—hosted matches between sixteen teams as they competed for the top spot on the podium.

The 1978 World Cup teams

The teams were split up into four groups, each with four people. Italy and Argentina overtook Hungary and France in group A. Poland and Germany were placed in group B, while Tunisia and Mexico were eliminated.

The Austrians and the Canaries were the two top-placed teams in Group C, which was from Brazil. Sweden and Spain were dropped. Peru and Holland were placed in the last group, D, but Scotland and Iran were eliminated.

The competition’s following round saw the ranked eights split into two groups of four. The grand final battle would be decided by the group leaders, and the runners-up would compete for third place on the podium.

The Big Decision

The Netherlands, who finished second in the previous Cup (Germany 1974), led group A and once again advanced to the finals. Argentina, who excelled at using the “home factor,” topped group B and met the Netherlands in the decisive match.

In front of more than 71,000 fans, the final was contested at the Monumental de Nez Stadium in Buenos Aires. Argentina managed to score two goals and not give up any in extra time after a 1-1 tie in regulation. With a final score of 3 to 1, the championship was assured.

The main conquering hero was seen as Mario Kempes, who scored two of Argentina’s three goals. The Netherlands, on the other hand, failed to capitalize on the star power of Johan Cruyff (best player in the previous Cup), who chose not to participate in the match, and finished second for the second time in a row.

Brazil’s campaign

Brazil was eliminated from the second round because Argentina had a better goal differential (+8 compared to Brazil’s +5). And Brazil continued to contend for the bronze medal, just as in the 1974 World Cup (3rd place). The national team were eliminated by Poland in the previous edition, but this time the narrative was different.

Check out how our campaign performed in the list below:

  • Brazil 1v1 Sweden (group stage);
  • Brazil 0x0 Spain (group stage);
  • Brazil 1×0 Austria (group stage);
  • Brazil 3×0 Peru (second phase);
  • Brazil 0x0 Argentina (second phase);
  • Brazil 3×1 Poland (second phase);
  • Brazil 2×1 Italy (3rd place dispute).

Therefore, Brazil, who had defeated Italy, finished in third place. The team has never earned the bronze medals for placement, hence the winner of this honour is still a mystery. Because of security concerns, the Brazilian squad skipped the award presentation when Argentina was under a military dictatorship. Additionally, it is still unclear on the “whereabouts” of the bronze medals from that competition.

Awards and Trivia

Argentina forward Mario Kempes was recognized as the tournament’s best player and leading scorer in 1978 (six goals). The “fair play” award was also given to the house hosts. Antonio Cabrini, a defender from Italy, received the award for the competition’s top young athlete.

The best of the Cup

Fillol, Passarella, and Tarantini (from Argentina), Vogts (from Germany), Krol and Rensenbrink (from Holland), Dirceu (from Brazil), Cubillas (from Peru), Kempes (from Argentina), Bettega, and Rossi made comprised the 1978 World Cup “dream squad” (Italy).

Curiosities

  • The Dutch player Rob Rensenbrink scored the thousandth goal in the history of the World Cups in this edition of the World Cup (Netherlands 2×3 Scotland for the group stage);
  • Brazil proclaimed themselves the “moral champion” of the 1978 edition for being the only unbeaten team in the competition and for the unexpected and controversial rout suffered by Peru in a game against Argentina, which took the team out of contention for the title;
  • The hosts’ coach, César Luis Menotti, did not want to take the soccer star Diego Maradona to the Cup because he had “little experience” and was lucky enough to win the title even without the greatest idol of Argentine football.

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