Classic World Cups – Mexico ‘86
With the 2018 World Cup just over a week away, we’re taking a look back at some of the most memorable World Cups of all time.
Next up, it’s the case for Mexico ’86 – and a certain Hand of God.
Here are 5 reasons why 1986 lives long in the memory…
Mexico put on a late, late show
As a country, Mexico lives and breathes football, and it certainly delivered in terms of putting on a spectacular feast of football. It’s also easy to forget the Mexicans had very little time to pull the whole thing together, after Colombia pulled out of staging the contest in 1982. After successfully hosting another great World Cup – 1970 – they were the obvious choice to take on hosting duty at very late notice.
Lineker’s crisp finishing
1986 would be Lineker’s tournament as the Everton star acclimatised perfectly to the Mexican heat and walked away with the Golden Boot, scoring six goals as England reached the Quarter-Finals.
It would be a lucrative feat for Lineker, earning him a dream move to Barcelona later that summer, where he would go on to score 42 goals in 103 top flight appearances in Spain.
Argentina’s golden generation
We’re coming on to that Quarter-Final, but putting Maradona’s trickery aside for one second, no-one can dispute that Mexico ’86 had the right winners.
No Argentina side since has come close to that hugely talented generation.
Can Messi mimic the spirit of Maradona’s ’86 moment in 2018?
A gripping Group of Death
Every great tournament needs one group where every single kick looks as if it will count for something in the final reckoning. Group E provided that nail-biting entertaining value in ’86 as Denmark, Uruguay, West Germany and a talented Scotland side boasting the likes of Gordon Strachan, Graeme Souness and Charlie Nicholas all went head-to-head.
The Scots acquitted themselves well in all three group games but would ultimately exit early from the competition with just a solitary point.
The Hand of God
And finally, the one moment of the ‘86 World Cup that England fans will never forget, and many will never forgive. Argentina advanced to the semi-finals with a little help from the ‘Hand of God’
With the scores locked at 0-0 at half-time, Maradona gifted Argentina a decisive breakthrough just six minutes after the restart – with a little help from his left hand. Despite a massive height disadvantage, Maradona palmed the ball beyond Peter Shilton – and wildly celebrated to give the referee no time to process the incident.
England’s complaints fell on deaf ears and Maradona would score a goal worthy of settling any match just four minutes later with his ‘Goal of the Century’ – often touted as the best moment of individual brilliance ever witnessed on a football pitch.