Suck em’ Fabio!

The last ten finals of the World Cup have been contested by only six countries. That may change this year due to Spain but apart from the European Champions, only countries from the list below will make the final:

Germany
Italy
Holland
France
Argentina
Brazil

The World Cup though, isn’t as predictable as some might think. Hungary reached the 1954 final. Sweden the 1958 final and Czechoslovakia the 1962 final. Uruguay beat Brazil in Rio de Janeiro 1-0 against the odds to win the 1950 World Cup.

Upsets do happen.

Twenty years ago, Cameroon nearly went all the way. So did Poland in 1982, Bulgaria 1994, and Turkey 2002.

In 1966, North Korea knocked out Italy after scraping a draw against Chile and then led Portugal 3-0 in the quarter-final, before eventually losing 5-3.

Perhaps the 1982 World Cup in Spain was the most interesting. It signaled the emergence of African football.

Cameroon never lost a game in the 1982 Finals but were still knocked out. They tied all of their three group matches, drawing with Poland, Italy and Peru. Against Peru, Roger Milla had a goal disallowed for offside, even though TV replays showed that Milla was clearly onside when he scored. They were cruelly denied a place in the second round on the basis of having scored fewer goals than Italy, despite both countries having the same goal difference.

Algeria won two group matches in 1982 but were still knocked out. They beat reigning European champions West Germany 2-1 and Chile 3-2. However, they lost 2-0 to Austria, who had also beaten Chile 1-0. Austria were guaranteed qualification to the next stage if they only lost to West Germany by one or two goals. With West Germany beating Chile 4-1, they needed victory in their last group game against the Austrian’s to advance. The game finished West Germany 1-0 Austria. The German’s scored after 10 minutes and the game descended into a farce, with both teams passing the ball around aimlessly for the rest of the match. It seemed that both the German speaking teams had an unspoken gentleman’s agreement, leading to chants of “Fuera, Fuera” (Out, Out) by the mainly Spanish crowd.

This game was widely deplored, even by the Austrian and German fans with one German supporter burning his country’s flag in disgust. Algeria protested to FIFA, who once again showed their weakness by allowing the result to stand.

West Germany, however, continued to cause controversy in the 1982 Finals. In their semi-final clash with France, their goalkeeper Harold Schumacher deliberately knocked out the French defender Patrick Battiston. With the game level at 1-1 midway through the second half, Battiston raced clear for a one on one with Schumacher. He poked the ball past the German No.1 only for Schumacher to carry out a flying karate kick on his head, thus breaking his jaw and knocking out two of his teeth. It was arguably the most disgusting challenge in the history of the World Cup. However, Schumacher stayed on the pitch and was not sent-off by the Dutch referee, which to this day is shocking.

In the last minute of the game, France hit the crossbar but went 3-1 ahead in extra time. West Germany, however, came back and equalized with a Klaus Fischer bicycle kick. The Germans then went on to win the penalty shoot-out a feat they repeated against the French in 1986.

Arsenal fans interest in the World Cup starts with Carlos Vela as hosts South Africa play Mexico in the opening game. I have a feeling that this game will be a lot more entertaining than the USA-England game the following day.

England give you two things in every World Cup:

i) Very passionate fans that dress up and get hammered;

ii) Unjustified hype.

If England win the World Cup there will be a media love fest, England fans will detonate, Fabio Capello will be Knighted by the Queen, so will Wayne Rooney, and you will be bored as fuck knowing that for the rest of your life you will have to endure songs about the 3 Lions and their World Cup win in 2010.

Enjoy the next month.

Keep It Arsenal

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