The World Cup final between Germany and Argentina will be the third time these two nations have played for the biggest title in international football. Diego Maradona is the most famous link between the two matches set four years apart, smiling at the end of one of them, crying at the end of the other.

Germany were actually West Germany at the time, but East Germany were never a footballing power, and every accolade that the West German team achieved over the years carried on with the unified side. Argentina? That 1986 side is remembered for one man, Diego Maradona, getting his moment in the spotlight. Four years later, despite playing bad football all through the tournament, they made it back to the final again, facing the same rival.

1986 – Diego Maradona Becomes the King of the World

Diego Maradona

The thing people forget about the 1986 World Cup Final, played in front of 114,000 fans inside the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, was that Diego Maradona wasn’t that great. The West Germany team decided they’ll mark him and take their chances with other players. For just over an hour, it worked well for Argentina. Maradona was hardly involved, but his teammates did the work for him.

Jose Brown, a centre back who never really made too much of an impression during his club career, scored off of a Burruchaga free kick, to give Argentina a 1-0 lead after 23 minutes, which they carried to half time. Brown injured his shoulder late in the match but refused to come off. Jorge Valdano, a Real Madrid star at the time, scored in the 55th minute to give Argentina a 2-0 lead. Things seemed done.

But West Germany came back. First through their star, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in the 74th minute. Six minutes later it was Rudi Voller with the equalizer. But Argentina weren’t to be denied. Sometimes destiny is stronger than everything. Maradona finally managed to shake off his markers and pulled off a brilliant assist to Burruchaga, scoring the winning goal in the 83rd minute, delivering the trophy to Argentina.

1990 – West Germany get their Revenge

1990 World Cup Final

The worst World Cup in history? Probably. Argentina somehow carried through into the final after winning only once in the group stage, drugging the Brazilians in the round of 16 and getting past both Yugoslavia and Italy with penalty kicks. West Germany also needed a penalty shootout in the semifinal against England, but were much more impressive along the way, including a win over Netherlands in the round of 16 and Czechoslovakia in the quarterfinals.

The final? Two things stand out. The argument over whether or not there was an actual foul by Roberto Sensini on Rudi Voller will go on forever. In the 85th minute, West Germany were awarded a penalty kick, converted by Andreas Brehme, winning the match 1-0.

Argentina played to reach a penalty shootout again, putting their faith in Sergio Goycochea. They had only one shot at goal. West Germany had 16. The other thing to stand out was the first ever red card in a final, as Gustavo Dezotti was sent off for a vicious foul on Jurgen Kohler.

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