Date: June 17 – July 17
Brazil achieved their fourth world title, beating Italy on penalties. It was a scoreless draw after ninety minutes plus overtime, with the South American team having the most clear chances. Great offensive players participated in the final, Roberto Baggio and Daniele Massaro for Italy; Romario and Bebeto for Brazil. A young Ronaldo was also on the squad, but stayed on the bench the whole time.
In the penalty shootout, hero Claudio Taffarel stopped Massaro’s shot, while both Baggio and Franco Baresi missed, sending the ball over the crossbar. Brazil had to wait 24 years to lift the trophy again.
Sweden finished third, thrashing Bulgaria four goals to nil. It was the third time the Swedish team reached the podium after Brazil 1950 (3rd) and Sweden 1958 (2nd). Bulgaria had an outstanding tournament, eliminating Germany (1990 World Cup Champions) in the quarter-finals. Hristo Stoichkov was their leader, scoring six goals in seven games.
There were two notable absentees, England and France, both losing in the European Qualifiers. France missed the World Cup for the second consecutive time.
There were no changes in the format. Six groups of four teams, with the two best reaching the knockout stages (Round of 16, quarter-finals, and semifinals).
Bulgaria vs. Italy: 1 – 2
Goals: Roberto Baggio 21′ – 25′, Hristo Stoichkov 44′ (penalty)
Sweden vs. Brazil: 0 – 1
Goals: Romário 80′
Sweden vs. Bulgaria: 4 – 0
Goals: Tomas Brolin 8′, Hakan Mild 30′, Henrik Larsson 37′, Kennet Andersson 40′
Brazil vs. Italy: 0 – 0 (penalties: 3 – 2)
|1. Hristo Stoichkov||Bulgaria||7||6|
|2. Oleg Salenko||Russia||3||6|
|3. Jürgen Klinsmann||Germany||5||5|
[Images property of Ficha Deportiva: Panini S.p.A. – Modena Album]