Last time I wrote about my first World Cup, now it's time to tell you story about my favorite World Cup. It was one held in 1990 in Italy. I was 16 years old back then actively going on football games in ex Yugoslavia. This country had very good players at that time and expectation from this World Cup were big. I remember my Geography teacher asked us on class "What do you think how far we can go ?" and everyone of us expect one said "1st place". That guy said we can pass group and maybe 1 knock out round, but we can't go any further. He was right. This is story about big football injustice, one super star and why you shouldn't put 40 years old man on your goal. This is World Cup after which Gary Linker said legendary sentence and his definition about football which was "Football is strange game where 11 players are fighting hard, but at the end Germans always win".

We might thought we can be first, but host Italy with S. Scilacci and G. Vialli, West Germany with Klinsmann, Voller, Brehme, England with P. Gascoigne, Platt, Linker, Brazil with Careca and Romario and Argentina with Maradona and Caniggia thought the same about them for sure. Here you can see Yugoslavian squad at that "time of key" (Every republic must have representative in national squad).


Croatian striker from Dinamo Zagreb Davor Suker, Red Star's striker from North Macedonia Darko Pancev and superb midfielder Dragan Stojkovic "Pixi", Hajduk's great forward Alan Boksic, Red Star's midfielders Robert Prosinecki and Dejan Savicevic, PSG veteran from Sarajevo Safet Susic, Hajduk's winger Zlatko Vujovic, Slovenian midfilder Srecko Katanec etc... All big names with big careers. Midfield and attack were superb, but defense was not so good. Players like Spasic or Stanojkovic were solid for club level but not world class for sure. Fact that player like Zvonimir Boban from Dinamo Zagreb couldn't be in squad tells everything. Coach was legendary Bosnian and FC Zeljeznicar legend Ivica Osim.

In group A Italy was first in front of Czechoslovakia, Austria and United States. In group B Cameroon was first in front of Romania and Argentina. They won Argentina and Romania. They were very strong squad too. Famous player Roger Milla in age of 38 years played for Afrikans very good.

Group C saw Brazil and Costa Rica (coach was legendary Serbian coach Bora Milutinovic) qualified in front of Scotland and Sweden. Costa Rica won both of them losing only to Brazil. Brazil was strong like ground with Romario,Dunga and Careca.

In group D West Germany was first in front of Yugoslavia. Colombia qualified too, while United Arab Emirates went home. Yugoslavia lost first game against Germany with 4:1. This game showed something is not right with defense. However we won Colombia and UAE and qualified for next stage.

In group E Spain was in front of Belgium and Uruguay while South Korea went home. Belgium with superb playmaker Shifo, goalkeeper Prudhome and Spain with Bakero and E. Butragueno, Hierro and legendary Zubizarreta.

In Group E England was in front of Republic of Ireland and Netherlands. Egypt went home. Netherland with players like Rijkaard, Koeman, Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Blind was only 3rd in group. They played 3 draws just like Republic of Ireland.

Then in knock out stage some great injustice and misfortune of all times happens. Brazil played against Argentina. I remember that game Brazil was much better, completely outplayed Argentina, dominated, created dozens of chances, hit bars, posts, but didn't score goal. Then one moment of Maradona's magic who passed between 3 Brazil players to alone Caniggia made only chance for Argentina and they scored a goal and won match. I still remember cries of Brazil supporters at terraces.

Yugoslavia took revenge over Spain for 1982 and eliminated them from World Cup. Red Star player Dragan Stojkovic - Pixi destroyed Spain with his dribblings and free kick goal. It was impossible to take ball from him. They could only foul him. Vujovic did some superb job on flank, made cross and ball come to big daddy who finished action in very cool way. However Bakero and Salinas made result 1:1 and game went in extra time. Then big master took free kick for foul over Dejan Savicevic and rest was history. I still rememer mad over excited comment by tv reporter near the end who commente passing between our players by saying "Susic, Susic Susic and all of them are Susic". :)

West Germany eliminated Netherlands with 2:1 victory. Rijkaard and Voller were sent off in first half. Superb striker Jurgen Klinsmann scored goal for 1:0 after nice cross. Brehme made "wicked curly shot" like Cuthinho is doing these days and it was 2:0.

Republic of Ireland, Italy, Chechoslovakia, Cameroon and England also went to next stage.

Next round brought new excitement. Yugoslavia played Argentina. Coach Ivica Osim decided to mark strictly Maradona. Our player Brnovic did it very good until referee decided to sent off him. Argentina was not better in this game, Dragan Stojkovic did mess inside their defense line, but rest of our players couldn't capitalize on that. I am still angry on Dejan Savicevic 30 years after for missing this chance which you can see around 3rd minute of this video. All alone on 5 meter in front of goal and blazes ball over post !? Wtf ?!

Game went into penalties. Maradona let ghosts from bottle by not scoring goal from penalty. He shot poor in the middle of goal and our goal keeper could only say "Thanks man" before gathering ball. Situation was explosive, everyone saw us in semi final, but then our best player Dragan Stojkovic went to over confident. He wanted to score goal by sending ball near post and bar connection, but his effort hit woodwork. I still see him desperately eating grass on center after that. Some people say if coach let him shot 5th penalty he would score, but I guess we'll never know. Osim was notorious for picking wrong guys for penalty shootout. His theory was "Penalties are lottery" and gives to players entire nation knows can't score from penalty. Irony is that in that time in Yugoslavian championship after every draw game clubs did penalties to decide who will grab only point from game. It was attempt to prevent match fixing to draw where both sides get point. Only one who was better in penalties could get point. Strikers like D. Pancev or D. Suker didn't participate in penalty shot out. It was painful elimination. I felt like big injustice.

Injustice was on big scene in other game between England and Cameroon too. England won 3:2, but Cameroon was better. I supported England, but Cameroon was really better in that game. Platt scored nice header after Stuart Pearce's cross, but magic of R. Milla made Cameroon lead 2:1. Then near the end England was awarded penalty and Linker scored for 2:2. In extra time, England got another penalty and it was 2:3 and they went to semi final.

West Germany won Chehoslovakia 1:0 and Italy won Republic of Ireland.

Semi final were Italy - Argentina and England - West Germany. Italy and Argentina played 1:1, Argentina managed to come to penalties again and their goalkeeper expert for penalties did miracles on goal again and then won 4:3 and went to final. Goalkeepers had tactits for penalties make one step in one direction and dive in other, but this lad made one step in one direction and when player think he will go in other after shot, he dive in that and save it. Very effective! LoL

West Germany eliminated England from penalties too. Game ended with 1:1. 40 years old Peter Shilton conceded goal after deflection from free kick. I feel younger goalkeeper could save that shot. I also feel England was better in that game. Gazza almost scored from center, but his shot ended on bar. Other Spurs legend G. Lineker made superb finish and euqalized result near the end. England coach Sir Bobby Robson was very emotional during this game. England's striker hit post too. Franz Bekenbauer's men had their own post later too. Stuart Psycho Pears let ghost from the bottle and his effort was saved by german goal keeper. Old Peter Shilton was not able to save any penalty in that shot out. We'll never know if young David Seaman from Q.P.R. at that time could do better.

Final between West Germany and Argentina didn't bring some big football. West Germany dominated, Argentina's luck was over. They were man down, defend well, but West Germany were awarded penalty which they didn't miss. It was 84th minute 1:0 and West Germany win.

I feel Brazil, Yugoslavia, Italy and England could do more on this World Cup. However I can't complain on Germany win, they were overall the best in that Championship.

What's your favorite World Cup ?

Thanks for reading and keep safe!