Year played: 1978
For the second consecutive tournament the hosts were crowned champions, with Argentina claiming their first World Cup in 1978. The South American country played host to 16 teams from 1st to 25th June across five host cities and six stadiums.
In claiming the famous trophy, Argentina became the fifth team to be world champions, following in the footsteps of Uruguay, Italy, England and West Germany. The champions lost to Italy in the group stage but still comfortably finished second with four points; they then topped Group B to advance to the final where they beat the Netherlands 3-1 after extra-time.
The Netherlands looked to have gained momentum to claim the World Cup themselves – equalising through Dick Nanninga in the 82nd minute – but they could not overcome the hosts. Rob Rensenbrink finished with five goals and was joint-second in the scoring charts. Elsewhere, Brazil beat Italy in the play-off to claim third place.
The 1982 World Cup in Spain was extended from 16 to 24 teams to make the competition open to even more of the globe’s national sides. The bigger format meant that 17 venues were needed across 14 cities in the Iberian country.
The home side struggled in the first stage with one win, one draw and one defeat, but three points (just two were awarded for a win back then) was enough to see them finish second ahead of Yugoslavia and Honduras. However, José Santamaría’s men were rock bottom in the next round and were eliminated by West Germany. The Germans ultimately got to the final after beating France in the first penalty shootout in the competition’s history
Italy won 3-1 in the World Cup final with Paolo Rossi opening the scoring with his sixth goal of the tournament to help the Azzurri claim their third World Cup title; there would be a 24-year gap to number four.
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