Date: June 1 – June 25
During Argentina’s military dictatorship led by Jorge Videla, the home team achieved their first world championship, beating the Netherlands three goals to one. The visitors lost their second consecutive World Cup final, however, this time they played without Johan Cruyff, since the player retired from the national team in 1977.
Unfortunately, politics played a crucial part in the tournament. Jorge Videla tried to hide all the violence and oppression caused by the dictatorship with the World Cup and subsequent victory. Videla’s influence caused fear and controversy throughout the competition. Ezequiel Fernández Moores, Argentine journalist, interviewed Johnny Rep (Dutch striker) before the final. Rep told Moores: «We are afraid to win».
Controversy arose in the match of Argentina versus Peru. Before the game, Jorge Videla visited the Peruvian players in the locker room. After the ninety minutes, the home team thrashed Peru six goals to nil. Argentina ended up as the leader of Group B, playing the final thanks to a better goal difference than Brazil, second of the group. Ramón Quiroga, Peruvian goalkeeper, commented in 1998 that some of his teammates did not play competently, making mistakes that resulted in goals.
It is important to highlight that Argentina was well prepared and had a great team, with players such as Mario Alberto Kempes, Daniel Passarella, and René Houseman.
Two amazing goals in the second half helped Brazil beat Italy in the third place match.
The Federal Republic of Germany could not repeat as champions, finishing last of Group A (second group phase) with just two points.
There were no changes in the format, no Round of 16, Quarterfinals, and Semifinals. The two best teams of each group formed another group stage (A and B). The leaders of Group A and B played against each other in the final, while the runners-up in the third place match.
Brazil vs. Italy: 2 – 1
Goals: Franco Causio 38′, Nelinho 64′, Dirceu 72′
Argentina vs. Netherlands: 3 – 1
Goals: Mario Kempes 38′ – 105′, Dick Nanninga 82′, Daniel Bertoni 115′
|1. Mario Kempes||Argentina||7||6|
|2. Rob Rensenbrink||Netherlands||7||5|
|3. Teófilo Cubillas||Peru||6||5|
[Images property of Ficha Deportiva: Panini S.p.A. – Modena Album]
Fox Sports (Argentina)
(2012) «Argentina perdería Mundial de 1978; FIFA lo analizaría», https://www.foxsports.com.ar/news/33584-argentina-perderia-mundial-de-1978-fifa-lo-analizaria
The New York Times
Fernández Moores, Ezequiel (2018) «Argentina 78, el fútbol como coartada de la dictadura», https://www.nytimes.com/es/2018/06/12/espanol/america-latina/argentina-78-mundial-rusia-fifa.html