Year played: 1986

Host: Mexico

Champions: Argentina

Mexico was decided as the location for the 1986 World Cup after European countries were ruled out due to the previous tournament taking place in Spain. It was originally meant to be heading to Colombia for the first time, but economic problems meant that it took place in North America instead.

With 24 teams taking part, and a last-16 round, four of the six best third-placed sides also advanced from their group. The champions were Argentina who breezed through Group A unbeaten before beating their great rivals in the next round. In the quarter-finals one of the most memorable and iconic matches took place with the South Americans beating England 2-1. Maradona opened the scoring with his “Hand of God” effort before adding one of the best goals ever scored four minutes later when he dribbled past five opponents.

The diminutive forward added two more in the semi-final victory over Belgium before Argentina claimed a second World Cup title by beating West Germany. Gary Lineker scored six times for England and finished as top scorer.



Year: 1990

Host: Italy

Champions: West Germany

West Germany went one better four years later and claimed their third title. The final was a rematch of 1986, but the Europeans prevailed 1-0 this time around. In terms of quality, and as a spectacle, Italia ’90 was not memorable with the lowest goals average. It did, however, get extremely high viewing figures.

The hosts Italy won Group A with maximum points and delighted the home crowd by reaching the last four by beating Uruguay and the Republic of Ireland before being defeated by Argentina on penalties following a 1-1 draw. The home side then beat England in the third-place play-off after the Three Lions lost to their great rivals Germany on penalties – the 1990 World Cup still represents their best showing since 1966. This was the last Wold Cup before Germany was unified.