Recent World Cups have been disappointing, notably the last three which have failed to excite. It’s about time that FIFA delivered a good tournament. The last one to capture the imagination was 1998 – it seems a long time ago!
90 on 90: Nessun dorma and out we go – UK public tolerance 90%
The tournament that kick-started English football’s revival. Once more, a slow start, Roger Milla of Cameroon steals the show in the early stages and scares England in the last eight. Host nation Italy rely on a balding second-tier striker, Toto Schillaci, and it works, while West Germany power their way through. England reach the semi-finals, draw 1-1 with Germany and lose [famously] on penalties. Gazza cries. Argentina snarl their way through to the final as the World Cup ends in shabby fashion, Germany winning 1-0. Maradona’s crocodile tears said it all.
Best player: Lothar Matthaus Best game: West Germany 2 Holland 1
Entertainment: 2.5 (out of 5)
Goals per game: 2.21
Attendances (average): 48,391
Left-field: Voeller and Rijkaard spitting. The Irish.
94 on 94: Entertainment USA – UK public tolerance 75%
Good crowds, poor tournament. It looks like anyone’s, with Romania, Sweden and Bulgaria all upsetting the odds. Oleg Salenko of Russia scores five against Cameroon but his country fails to get past the group stage. Wide-eyed Diego Maradona gets sent home after failing a drug test. Romania and Georgi Hagi beat Argentina and Germany bail-out against Hristo Stoichkov’s Bulgaria. Sweden’s Tomas Brolin also catches the eye. Despite the new guard, it’s Brazil and Italy in the deathly dull final. And it ends 0-0, with Brazil winning on penalties, thanks to Roberto Baggio’s ballooned penalty.
Best player: Hristo Stoichkov. Best team: Brazil. Best game: Holland 2 Brazil 3
Goals per game: 2.71
Attendances (average): 68,991
Left-field: Romario and co.cradling the baby.
98 on 98: ZZ top – UK public tolerance 85%
Hosts France play exciting football, with Zinedine Zidane outstanding. England out on penalties, with David Beckham sent off against Argentina. Michael Owen scores a wonder goal in that same game. Dennis Bergkamp’s nets a superb goal as the Dutch beat Argentina in the next round. Croatia humiliate a poor German side 3-0 in the last eight, but France win the semi. The Dutch go out on penalties to Brazil. The final will be remembered for the Ronaldo “seizure” and two copycat Zidane goals as the French win 3-0. It was their idea in 1930, at last they were champions!
Best player: Zinedine Zidane. Best team: France. Best game: Holland 2 Argentina 1
Goals per game: 2.67
Attendances (average): 43,517
Left-field: Beckham’s foot hitting Simeone. Zidane image on the Champs Elysses.
2 on 02: Lay it on the Orient – UK public tolerance 80%
Best player: Ronaldo. Best team: Brazil. Best game: Brazil 2 England 1
Goals per game: 2.52
Attendances (average): 42,269
Left-field: Great stadiums. Quiet crowds.
6 on 06: Butt out – UK public tolerance 70%
Excellently organised. Italy the unlikely winners.
Best player: Michael Ballack. Best team: Germany. Best game: Argentina 2 Mexico 1
Goals per game: 2.3
Attendances (average): 52,491
Left-field: The Fan Fests. The Zidane headbutt.
10 on 10: Not the champions league – UK public tolerance 70%
Dutch disgraceful display in final won by Spain and Iniesta.
Best player: Andres Iniesta. Best team: Spain. Best game: Uruguay 2 Holland 3
Goals per game: 2.27
Attendances (average): 49,670
Left-field: The vuvuzela.