Diego Maradona is viewed as one of the greatest footballer this world has ever seen. He is often compared to Pele. In Argentina his home country, Diego is often refer to as a “god”. In fact, some football fanatics in Argentina, celebrates Maradona’s birthday like it’s Christmas. They simply adore him. And all this, is simply because he won the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
Personally, I don’t see why just one single achievement makes a player this great. Don’t get me wrong, Diego was an outstanding player. But i just feel he is simply “over-hyped”. And football as we know is a 11-man sport, it’s not like Tennis, Golf, Darts or Boxing. Where it’s one man to himself. In football, there is a duty for every single player on the pitch at that time.
Basically, this article is not to discredit Diego Maradona in any way. But to show the world some other reasons why Argentina where able to win the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.
1. Argentina Coach: Carlos Bilardo
Obviously the number one reason is Carlos Bilardo. The manager was renowned for perfecting the 3-5-2 formation and see it achieve great status, after a whole lot of coaches have failed with it.
Eventually, something most football fans don’t know, is that Maradona wasn’t even close to his legendary status prior to the 1986 world cup. He was sent off in Argentina second round 3-0 loss to Brazil in the 1982 world cup. After which he had two difficult seasons with FC Barcelona in Spain. He was involved in a fight in the 1984 Copa Del Rey finals against Athletic Bilbao. Diego Maradona couldn’t represent Argentina between 1983-1985 due to injuries and his controversies.
At the back of all his problems was Bilardo. The manager would always visit Maradona in Europe during those tough times. And this help build a solid relationship between the manager and the player. After which, Carlos Bilardo later made a rather controversial decision when he took the captain armband from Daniel Passarella and handed it to Diego Maradona prior to the 1986 world cup. A decision that brought out the best from Diego Maradona.
2. The Defence
Argentina team conceded just five goals at the 1986 world cup. It was just 3 goals prior to their 3-2 win over West Germany in the finals, which were through set-pieces. It was the best defensive record at that time in the FIFA world cup history.
Goalkeeper Nery Pumpido was fresh off winning the Copa Libertadores with River Plate earlier that year. Pumpido was in great form at a time when South Americans were dominating world football. A three-man defense of Oscar Ruggeri, José Luis Cuciuffo and José Luis Brown.
Like Pumpido, Oscar Ruggeri was part River Plate’s Copa Libertadores winning squad. Cuciuffo was an intelligent defender, capable of creating chances from the back. Luis Brown scored Argentina opening goal in the finals. And also one of the main reason why Argentina conceded just three goals in six games prior to the finals.
3. The “Other Key” Players in Attack
Diego Maradona wasn’t the only one out there doing everything for Argentina in attack. Jorge Burruchaga and Jorge Valdano were very influential for the team in attack.
Jorge Valdano, awarded La Liga’s Foreign Player of the Year in 1985-86 season. After he won La Liga and UEFA Cup with Real Madrid. Valdano scored just seven goals for Argentina throughout his career. But four goals were in the 1986 world cup and one of them in the finals.
Jorge Burruchaga scored the winner for Argentina after West Germany drew level from 2-0 down to 2-2. Burruchaga made it 3-2!.
In football there is a popular saying “it’s highly impossible to have a one-man team succeed”. Which is what Lionel Messi is finding it hard to do right now with the present Argentina team. While Messi is struggling to win the world cup with Argentina. Let’s not forget Diego Maradona’s 1986 team were far more better than Lionel Messi’s current teammates. And the Argentina football god couldn’t have done it all on his own.
In the end, Argentina 1986 world cup dominant performance was thanks to every one on the pitch. Goalkeeper, Defenders, Attackers all did their best to win that World Cup.