Once again, thank you so much for that! It would be nice if I could find a way to try and colour code a map of the teams present like the OTL here to add to it.

1974_world_cup.png


Anyway, hope you are enjoying the TL and look out for 1978 to follow! :)
I'll see what I can do. I already had that idea, but I found it too difficult, though now that I think about it I guess I can try on GIMP.
 
1978 FIFA World Cup Seeding and Group Stage
1978 FIFA WORLD CUP
Part 1

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Though it had been agreed since 1966 that Argentina would host the 1978 World Cup, it seemed like all would go to plan even with the expanded 24 team format. However in 1974, the country descended into chaos following the death of Juan Perón and it would involve in the end a coup d'état in 1976 that saw Argentina become a dictatorship [1] and they might've thought that a having a World Cup in Argentina would be a good thing to show off the world. However they had mad a horrendous mistake in that they had not taken into consideration the prospect that they would have to put out more stadiums for a 24 team World Cup and very little work had been done due to the turmoil the country found itself in. To say their chances to host a 24 team World Cup with what they had were woeful would be an understatement.

In a small turn of fate had the World Cup still had a 16 team format then it might've been plausible but with the 24 team format now firmly in place, it looked hopeless for Argentina's chances of hosting the World Cup [2]. So desperate they were following a damning inspection by FIFA that the Argentine authorities pleaded with FIFA to reduce it to 16 teams, but this was not surprisingly laughed out by many FIFA members, especially that by that point it had been agreed to expand the World Cup further, who didn't want to lose qualification spaces that were now seen vital to those nations in terms of revenue and even pride [3]. FIFA now had no choice but had to go for the nuclear option of stripping Argentina of hosting the 1978 World Cup and look elsewhere for a nearby nation to host it, the first time they had ever had to do it.

As part of a rotary policy from FIFA, they wanted to have this World Cup help in the Americas and there were offers from Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela and Mexico. Columbia were keen to do but felt they didn't have the time to build the stadiums needed and this was like wise with Venezuela who despite having oil money even they couldn't have pulled it off. Mexico quickly dropped out as they had only recently hosted the World Cup eight years prior so thus in the end the only option would be Brazil who not only had the stadiums needed but was undergoing an economic boom during that time. With all this mind and looking quite a safe bet, Brazil were awarded to host the World Cup and Brazil became the first country to host the World Cup twice [4].

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Stadiums chosen for the 1978 World Cup
While this minor crises had been averted, this news did not go down well in Argentina who accused the Brazilians for 'stealing' the World Cup for them and it only fanned the flames even more so in this rivalry, however the truth was that Argentina only had themselves to blame for getting into this situation. Nonetheless they would still qualify with the mindset to get revenge by winning up there.

With the benefit of hindsight, the loss of their hosting rights would be a blessing in disguise as it would see the Junta collapse in 1981 as it was said by some that by winning it as the host nation might've been used for propaganda purposes and without it, they couldn't claim anything [5]. It still remains a interesting 'what if' question if things had gone in Argentina's favour, but they get a chance of hosting the World Cup later on but that is another story...[6]

With that said, 22 teams, not including the champions and the host, qualified for what was to be the last tournament to host 24 teams as the following one in Spain would see 32 teams and many hoped that this would be a good way to see this part of World Cup history end on a positive note after all the crazy stories about the stripping of the host's rights.

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The teams of the 1978 World Cup
The draw, taking place in the 14 January in Rio [7], would bring up a number of tough groups, perhaps the two groups of death were Group 2, which featured champions Netherlands, Italy and France with poor Haiti looking like a sitting duck while the other was Group 2 which had West Germany, England, Mexico and Sweden which looked too close to call.

Nonetheless on the 9th June, the opening match would take place at Estádio do Morumbi in São Paulo with France and the Netherlands, but for now, Group 1 would feature the hosts in what they thought was a very good group for them...

---------

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Brazil vs Austria in their final group game
The hosts couldn't have been more delighted with the group they found themselves in which featured Austria, Tunisia and Bulgaria and to no one's surprise they would beat all that stood before them. However the big shock of the round was the unexpected success of an unknown Tunisia who would make history as the first ever African team to qualify from the group stage and make it into the knockout stage [8] and this was an answer to the critics that no team outside of the Americas and Europe could do it. Across Africa many celebrated as a huge breakthrough for African football that was felt long overdue and who knows what else could follow once more African teams were allowed in?

Austria would also qualify despite losing to Brazil in the final game of the group [9] via the third place teams, though this might've been in part thanks to Bulgaria losing badly to Tunisia who in contrast to Austria had an awful World Cup and lost all their games with that defeat by Tunisia being ranked as one of the worst games ever for them. For the three that did go through, who would join them?

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Final results of Group 1 of the 1978 World Cup

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Italy vs Netherlands in Group 2

Group 2 was perhaps the most terrifying to look at in terms of names in it and poor little Haiti would not want to look back on it fondly and for good reason as they lost all their games. However it was here that the opening game took place as the Dutch wrecked a transition French team 3-0, however even with losing to Italy in their final group game, they had done just enough thanks to a victory over Haiti to qualify via the third place spots to make it to the knockout stage for the first time since 1962 [10] and maybe they could put a small run on?

Apart from the Dutch who won all their games with ease, the Italians were the favourites to go through and other than a loss to the Dutch [11] they had done enough to finish comfortable in second place to go through. All in all, it was something not that of a surprise to see the three European teams go through and there was a feeling that one of them would do well to go all the way...

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Final results of Group 2 of the 1978 World Cup

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England vs West Germany in Salvador on the 17th June 1978

Group 3 was perhaps the toughest to guess which would go where though many did say the Germans and English would go through though some felt that both Sweden and Mexico might be rank outsiders. The 1970 runners-up would get utterly mashed up in their opening game and didn't look like they had a chance of going through [12] and the Swedes didn't do much better by getting beat 3-2 by England which in turn didn't do them any favours. The highly anticipated game with the English and Germans would be tight 0-0 draw while the Mexicans would regain some pride by beating Sweden thanks to a late penalty which gave them the vital victory.

England would beat Mexico in the final group game and this might've been the end for the Latin American side, however thanks to Sweden scoring a late goal to deny West Germany a victory, it would not only see England top the group but saw the Mexicans advancing into the knockout stage [13] thanks to results else where given them the chance to go through. How many more great escapes would follow?

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Final results of Group 3 of the 1978 World Cup


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Argentina vs Scotland on the 15th June in Porto Alegre
Argentina were a team on a mission for what had happened and would win all their games top top the group despite getting a fearsome reception from Brazilian locals who cheered their opponents to bring them down. Joining them in the group was Scotland who were feeling confident with this team that could win the World Cup as said by their colourful manager, Ally MacLeod. However an uninspired victory over Chile and a bad loss to Argentina didn't seem to scream champion material though they would limp into the next round thanks to 2-0 victory over Spain [14].

Both Chile and Spain didn't impress any as both could only win a measly point between them which even the third place rankings didn't help either and both would make an early exit from the World Cup. However for the two that had made it, Scotland and Argentina, the two were bound by the incredible coincidence on the 11th June that would have been five days after of what would have been Alexander Watson Hutton's 125th birthday, the father of Argentine football who just so happened to be Scottish [15]. There was no doubt that he would be looking down proud on both teams getting through and maybe going all the way.

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Final results of Group 4 of the 1978 World Cup

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The Australian team line up before their game with Poland

After their amazing run in 1974, Poland felt that they had enough in the tank to go all the way yet again, however Group 5 would be one of the most interesting groups in which featured a plucky Aussie and Belgian side as well as unknown Egyptian team who were playing in their first World Cup since 1934. While Poland managed to beat Australia in the opening match, the Socceroos would get the backing of the local Brazilians thanks to their underdog nature as well as the fact they had the same colours of their own national team.

Victories over Egypt and to everyone's amazement, Belgium, would see them finish in second behind Poland and by this point, football was now becoming the nation's new favourite sport after rugby and cricket if the Australian football team could keep doing this. Belgium would once again make it to the knockout stage via the third place ranking once again while poor Egypt would go out early despite having scored in all their games yet unlike others didn't quite embarrass themselves.

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Final results of Group 5 of the 1978 World Cup


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Peru vs Iran
Group 6 looked like a good one for East Germany to qualify from, however they hadn't expected to lose to Peru in their opening match who would be the surprise package and would ultimately win the group [16] and would win all their group games. East Germany would finish in second place after getting victories over Iran and a very poor Portugal team who would flop by getting one point along with Iran.

Speaking of which, once again Iran fell in the first round for the second time in a row though many in Iran thought that if they kept this up then they might someday make it through to the knockout stage. For now though, Asia's only team at that world cup would make an early exit and with all, all the 24 teams had played and only 16 remained to play in the knockout stage.

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Final results of Group 6 of the 1978 World Cup

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Ranking of the best third-place teams

With the end of the group stage saw the end of the third-place ranking system which would be no more once the 1982 World Cup kicked in with it's 32 team format [17] and there were mixed feelings about it's demise. Some said they would miss it as it helped gave teams a second chance while others claimed it caused teams to play games in trying not to lose in order to boost their chances of going through resulting in less attacking football.

Whatever the feeling, the 1978 World Cup now headed into it's most exciting phase...

---------
  • [1] As OTL.
  • [2] This is POD for Argentina hosting it, they got away with it IOTL by keeping the 16 team format and resulting in the new format not happening until the next WC. However ITTL with the 24 team format already being established here and combine Argentina's situation here, you can see that it looks doomed for them.
  • [3] Important to note is that with football becoming more popular by this point than OTL, many nations now need to qualify in terms of international recognition.
  • [4] As we all know IOTL, this honour falls to Mexico who did it in 1986.
  • [5] As we know there, they used Argentina's victory in 1978 for propaganda purposes so thus a few things change for Argentina in the future.
  • [6] Watch this space!
  • [7] The same day as OTL draw took place.
  • [8] So yes, Tunisia actually do qualify here! They were really unlucky not to go further as they missed out on goal difference I think. Here though they do just that being the first African team to do this far earlier than OTL. Plus by this point it is high time an African team makes it to the next round and on a small note, I'm surprised that no one has done anything regarding Tunisia going through in 1978, even with an expanded WC. Oh well, here we go here! :)
  • [9] The same sort of game as OTL.
  • [10] France wouldn't do this until the 1982 WC IOTL.
  • [11] Same game as OTL.
  • [12] Same game as OTL.
  • [13] Things do go better for Mexico here than OTL, football's more international appeal early on helps a great deal.
  • [14] Scotland's preparations are not so poor compared to OTL though we still get Willie Johnston getting kicked out over the banned substance who took.
  • [15] A happy coincidence I realised by chance as I was writing this down.
  • [16] As per OTL.
  • [17] Like with France 1998 though much earlier here.
There we are, Brazil 1978! Now before any of you say that this all looks familiar then yes, you are correct! This is based of @Ruperto Pesto 's little WI Brazil '78 TL that gave the me idea for it probably would've happened if we had a 24 team format sooner, plus I hope he doesn't mind me using his stadium plan as well as the logo which was actually made by me to begin with so I call dibs on it! :p

Anyway hope you enjoyed this update and if you are happy seeing your team doing well whoever it might be. So, here is the fixture list for the last 16:

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England vs Belgium

Poland vs Scotland

East Germany vs Italy

Brazil vs Mexico

Tunisia vs West Germany

Argentina vs France

Netherlands vs Austria

Peru vs Australia

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So then you know the drill, who do you think will win and why? Stay tune for the next update and what else would you like to here about regarding football's place in the world during this time? Until then, see you soon!
 
England vs Belgium

Poland vs Scotland

East Germany vs Italy

Brazil
vs Mexico

Tunisia vs West Germany

Argentina
vs France

Netherlands vs Austria

Peru vs Australia
 
England vs Belgium

Poland vs Scotland

East Germany vs Italy

Brazil
vs Mexico

Tunisia vs West Germany

Argentina vs France

Netherlands
vs Austria

Peru vs Australia
 
1978 FIFA World Cup Last 16
1978 FIFA WORLD CUP
Part 2

The opening match of the knockout phase would begin with Brazil taking on Mexico. Indeed it was wildly expected that Brazil would sweep aside Mexico and that's exactly what happened as Brazil disposed of Mexico by two goals to nil, both goals being scored by Reinadldo. While many felt that Mexico had gotten this far by a sheer fluke, they did managed to keep it tight to try there best and make sure the hosts wouldn't outright destroy them.

Still, it gave the host nation confidence to win the World Cup at home and banish the demons of 1950 [1]. A long way to go yet, as well as questions if Brazil could handle pressure at home with some saying that they should've scored more goals but it was a start. For Mexico, their Brazilian adventure had come to an end and now they looked forward to see what 1982 loomed in store.

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Brazilian players celebrate after reaching he Quarter-finals
Later on that day saw Italy taking on East Germany and despite some thinking East Germany might have it them to cause a surprise like in the last World Cup, those hopes were to be left dashed as Italy went in and wrecked the poor Germans apart with them only getting one shot on target throughout the game. All in all it was perhaps the result most did think would happen with Italy now boosting their chances as they now awaited to play their Quarter-final tie.

East Germany in many ways perhaps weren't fully use to the heat compared to Italy which some speculated might've led to the German's downfall as well as their rather lacklustre group stage performance. For the Italians, they did feel right at home in Brazil...

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Rossi during the game with East Germany
The following day saw the two British representatives playing for a place in the Quarter-finals with England going up first to take on Belgium while later would be Scotland against Poland. Many rushed home from work to watch England take on Belgium and they were not to be left disappointed as England flattened the Belgians 3-0 with one Kevin Keegan making a name for himself with those two goals he scored.

Belgium had nothing to offer and there really wasn't anything else to add other than the fact it was all likely expected and that England could feel happy that they were in the last eight for the first time since 1970 [2] and who was to say that with the talent in that team that they could go on and pull of a shock or two?

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Keegan during the victory over Belgium
Later on that day saw Scotland take on Poland in a game that some felt was a victory for Poland and given the ropey performance that Scotland had shown in the group stage that this might've been justified. Scotland MacLeod had come under a lot of pressure to show if his team were really world cup winners if they could beat the former runners-up. What happened next was a truly great game of football in which despite Poland getting the first goal, Scotland would come back to score three more goals with Gemmill scoring a truly stunning goal that was surely the goal of the tournament an yet even though Poland scored soon after, Scotland held on for a historic victory that seemed to vindicate MacLeod and saw that his Scotland team were up and running [3].

Poland's shock loss was something not many expected, though MacLeod smugly said that he had masterminded the victory though some did question him. But for Scotland, they could be happy at the prospect that they were in the last eight once again and with the fact that England won earlier that day, it had been a great day for British football. What would follow next and would everyone be on the march with Ally's Army...[4]?

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Gemmill after scoring the third and perhaps best goal for Scotland
The day after that would see a bit of football history Tunisia, the first African side to qualify for the knockout stage were preparing to take on West Germany with millions tuning in to watch this historic game. It wouldn't take long for a shock to happen as it was Tunisia who would take an early lead thanks to a corner and some felt that more miracles were going to happen.

However it wouldn't take long for the Germans to respond soon after with a goal and even though they went into the break with the game still level, the Germans were sure they could turn the African underdogs over. Two more goals from West Germany would ultimately finish off the plucky Tunisians out of the World Cup but that all being said, they had done African proud that a team from that continent could manage well on the big stage. Would more follow?

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West Germany vs Tunisia during the last 16 match
Also that day would see Argentina taking on a very lucky French side in which the latter had never made it to this stage since 1962. The first half would end with a penalty for Argentina to give them the lead which looked they were going to get through despite the combination of a stubborn French team and the Brazilian locals who were doing their best to make it hard for their rivals.

France would score during the second half however it wouldn't take long for Argentina to score in response to give them the victory that sent them into the last eight once again [5]. While the Argentines celebrated their victory, France felt that this could be hopefully the launch pad for them to do even better for next time. For now though, France were going home.

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France vs Argentina during the last 16 games
When it came time for the final day of last 16 games, the first was a star studded Dutch team taking on the Austrians whom the latter had been lucky to get this far. However any luck or even hope Austria might've had was soon up in smoke as the Netherlands absolutely destroyed the Austrians 5-1 and it was truly a result that seemed to show the world the the reigning champions meant serious business to defend the cup [6].

A battered and bewildered Austria made the long journey home after that with the Dutch, now happily calling the game the 'Recife Rout', showing everyone that they had no fear to face anyone though there were some voices warning them not to underestimate their opponents no matter how inferior they might've been...

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Netherlands vs Austria during the 'Recife Rout'
The final last 16 game was perhaps the most strangest paring yet, Peru vs Australia. Many Peruvians had travelled the distance over to cheer on the team in which they thought was an easy game into the Quarter-finals, however the Socceroos had gained the support of the local Brazilians who wanted to cheer on the underdog and followed was perhaps one of the most dramatic games ever. Peru dominated the game and got the goal that looked like would be enough to see them through, however a dramatic last minute goal from Barnes would tie the game and drag the game into extra time.

Peru would left stunned and yet despite having a lot of the ball, they couldn't find a way to breakthrough it was clear that Australia knew the couldn't outplay them so they decided to drag the game all the way the penalty kicks. It would be a nerve shredder and many Australians watching the game live early in the morning couldn't believe it as the spot kick score was a 3-3, then Rojas went up to take it and it would be saved leaving it down to the huge task for Ollerton to take the spot kick to take Australia into the Quarter-finals. He would hold his nerve to score and shock the world, perhaps the biggest shock of the tournament, as Australia were now moving into unknown territory and across Australia, all these years of hoping the Socceroos would get to this point could finally feel satisfied.

For Peru, the shock loss left the country reeling and wonder how on earth they had let it slip out of their grasp but now Australia were the world's favourite team. Only question was just how long could it last for?

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Australia before the dramatic game with Peru
With that, everyone was now looking to the Quarter-finals and many wonder as to who would actually go the distance? Eight teams now hoped that their Brazilian adventure wasn't going to end at this point...

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Final results of the Last 16 games at the 1978 World Cup

---------
  • [1] We all know what happened there...
  • [2] For this TTL at least.
  • [3] Pretty much the same Scotland/Netherlands game from OTL, only difference is that the Dutch is swapped round with Poland.
  • [4] One minor side effect to TTL is that with Scotland doing well is that we still have to put up that damn song more so here.
  • [5] Pretty much the same OTL group game here.
  • [6] Ditto as with OTL game just now here in the Last 16.
There we are then and few shock results you can see. Before anyone does that Australia beating Peru here is ASB, you have to remember that with Australia being at a few world cups in a row by this point, they have gotten better here and with football more popular worldwide here than OTL by this point, that is to be expected. Anyway the fixture list for the Quarter-finals as follows:

---------
England vs Scotland

Italy vs Brazil

West Germany vs Argentina

Netherlands vs Australia
---------

So who and why will go through to the last four? What has been your favourite World Cup so far and why and who would you like to see have a chance of doing better at World Cup ITTL as there will be a few nations outside of Europe and South America that will be ones to look out for. Anyway until then, catch you later!



 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
That Scottish team was very good, but managed by a complete wazzock. Take him out of the equation & I'd fancy Scotland to turf out England.
 
Thank you @QTXAdsy ! and of course, it is an honour to me that you used part of my material for this wonderful TL!

My guess
England vs Scotland : Scotland, perhaps on penalties...perhaps a revival of Wembley invasion pitch '77 but with Samba...
Argentina vs West Germany, tight victory of Argentina
Netherlands vs Australia....one can say Netherlands...on paper, seems an easy victory but to me it could be something similar to Italy's victory vs Australa in OTL 2006
Italy vs Brazil, Brazil...
 
1978 FIFA World Cup Quarter-Finals
1978 FIFA WORLD CUP
Part 3

The last eight of the 1978 World Cup would bring up a number of mouth-watering encounters with the opening Quarter final match with hosts Brazil taking on a steady yet efficient Italian. Pretty much everyone in Britain were leaving work early to watch the encounter with England and Scotland, the first time such a famous game was to be played outside the British isles [1] and curiously only the second time the two rivals had faced each other at a World Cup since the 1966 final [2].

Along with those two games that same day, the following day would have another two games which proved to be eye catching to say the least with Argentina taking on heavyweights West Germany with both out to win at all costs. Then the final Quarter-final would see the Netherlands take on a surprise package Australia who were looking to try and spring a surprise on the champions. What would follow would be some truly amazing games...

---------
In front of packed crowd at the legendary Maracanã stadium, in which Brazil were to play all their games if they were to go all the way, Brazil would take on Italy and one that many Brazilians felt was the European side that could trouble them the most. This would actually be a very justified fear as Italy did start the better side and even hit the bar twice within the first ten minutes of the game. Though Brazil did grow into the game thanks to a frenzy home crowd, there would be a number of controversies in the game when just before the stroke of half time, Italy had the ball in the back of the net thanks to Rossi but for some reason it was not given by the referee over the claim it went in after the whistle had gone [3], which was not only rather suspect but difficult for the Italian players due the amount of whistling going on thanks to the crowd.

The tight game would become more a farce for Italy as in the 67th minute they managed to get the ball into the back of the net yet it was ruled off for being offside and not only did Italy feel that something was amiss, but that Brazil had been very lucky to still be in the game at this point and who in all honestly had never really turned up and even the large crowd began whistling their team to get back into the game.

The game eventually went into extra time with the score still at 0-0 and even didn't seem to help to find a way to break the deadlock that was until a few minutes before the break in which Brazil won a penalty. While it was a legit penalty that no one could deny due to the fact that it had been a hand ball by Antonio Cabrini, the tempers of the Italians were finally at breaking point as they expressed their anger at the referee over what they clamed was blatant cheating in favour of the hosts. Zico would put away the penalty and send Brazil in the last four and dumping Italy out in controversial circumstances.

For everyone else who were hoping for a memorable game, it had been just that though perhaps not for the best reasons with the main feeling that Brazil had been very lucky to go through and perhaps the pressure of hosting the World Cup may have been causing problems for them. For Italy, they would go home wondering just what might've been had things gone their way...

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Angry scenes after Brazil are awarded the penalty that would lead them on the victory
Not long after that game ended, it was the turn for the old rivals of England and Scotland to go at it yet again for a place in the last four and guaranteeing a British team in the Semi-finals. There were said to be about over a thousand supporters who had made the journey from the UK to Brazil to watch their respected teams not only for a place in the last four but also for true bragging rights.

Scotland manager Ally MacLeod would work his ways in building up the game saying they were go to give them a doing like last year [4] though his English counterpart Ron Greenwood would play down the occasion to say it was just another game for them even though many knew just how big this game really was. The start of the game would be a lively one as both sides were showing that they wanted to win, however it would be Kevin Keegan to score first in the 35th minute to give England the lead though not long later for Scotland to get a goal back thanks to Kenny Dalglish to end the the half with the scores still level.

The second half would prove to be a more favourable game for the English with them starting to turn the screw on what was looking like a Scotland that was now buckling under pressure and Keegan would score again in the rather absurdly fitting 66th minute that would ultimately win the game for England and see them play in their first Semi-final since 1966 and hopes were now starting to rise that England might do it.

For Scotland, it was bad enough to lose on a good chance to reach the last four, but to lose it to their arch rivals didn't bare worth thinking about. Despite doing better than the last World Cup, MacLeod would resign as Scotland manager saying he couldn't live it down after that loss with Jock Stein taking over shortly afterwards and after all his bravado about Scotland winning the World Cup, MacLeod would rather sadly be looked on as nothing more than a mere footnote in Scottish football history [5]. For England, they were one step closer...

england%2Bscotland%2B3.jpg

Keegan scores the winner that sends England through to the last four
The day after would start off with a truly manic game that was to unfold in Salvador with West Germany and Argentina. To say both sides were out to win would be an understatement with Argentina wanting to get revenge on Brazil for 'stealing' the World Cup from them while the Germans were out to get pride after failing to lift the cup in their own backyard. However the first would be a poor one for the Germans as Argentina scored first thanks to Kempes that saw Argentina leave the field at half time with the score 1-0 to them.

It got worse for West Germany as then a young player known as Diego Maradona [6] who came on as a substitute at the start of the half would score his first World Cup goal to give Argentina a two goal lead and that surely look set for Argentina to win the tie and progress. However they had stung the hornet's nest as not long later the Germans scored to get back into the game and this helped the Brazilian crowd to cheer on them to help make it difficult for their rivals. Wherever this help or not, it did see West Germany score a goal in the 72nd minute that stunned Argentina who were now rocking after a sudden comeback and the Germans had made a great escape [7].

Argentina's plan was now to try and take the game to extra time and regroup to see what they could do to save themselves. As the game enter injury time (five minutes being added on) West Germany would score right at the death thanks to Dieter Müller to complete perhaps the greatest comeback ever at a World Cup that booked their passage to the last four and left Argentina mourning at how they had collapsed like that with scenes of a young Maradona crying his eyes out at the final whistle.

It would be a bitter pill to swallow for Argentina which to rub more salt in the wound as they left the field, many over zealous Brazilians from the stands would spit and throw things at the defeated team which didn't leave a good impression for Brazil with this turning Argentina into victims. Argentina's manager César Luis Menotti stated he would stay on and promised to make it up for the supporters for next time. For now, the South American giants left for home...

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German players celebrate after scoring the final goal over Argentina
The final game of the Quarter-finals would perhaps be the most unlikely match up with champions Netherlands playing the underdog side of Australia who were riding on their successful victory over Peru. Many had thought the Dutch had been given a bye by all accounts and would easily beat them like in the last World Cup making this a rematch. What followed next would be a game that many would say was one of the best in terms of drama and excitement.

As expected, the Dutch started off well with them scoring in the 25th minute and looking like nothing was going to trouble them and went into the break with the score 1-0 to the Dutch, though some felt that with their dominance that they should've got another goal and the Australians had shown they could put the Dutch off their style of play. The second half would end up being a half fill with another moments to give anyone a heart attack as in the 61st minute, after Australia started off looking much better and given the Dutch trouble, Australia won a penalty to help them go level with the Dutch.

The Netherlands were now looking flustered at this was not how it was suppose to go and it got worse for them (and wonderful for the neutral) that Australia stunned the Dutch in the 73rd minute with what look like a winner and yet another huge shock loomed as many people in Australia watching the game in the early hours of the morning were likely celebrating what looked to be their greatest ever result. However exactly ten minutes after that in which the Socceroos made the mistake of playing defensive, the Netherlands won a penalty and Rensenbrink would take it and score to help take the game into extra time.

By this point, the Australians had nothing to left to give as they felt exhausted from the game and it would be a Dutch goal in the 108th minute that would seal the victory for the champions and eliminate Australia, putting to an end their brave run. Despite this end, this Australian team had gone further than what anyone dared think they would proved that expansion to the World Cup had merit and who knows how long it would be to see the Socceroos play in the last four. For the Dutch, they could breath a sigh of relief that they had gotten out of that one by the skin of their teeth [8].

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Dutch players celebrate at the final whistle after beating Australia in a dramatic game

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Final results of the 1978 Quarter-finals
That victory meant that the four the first time, the last four would be an all champion Semi-final list with it now certain that a familiar name was going to be carved on the cup. Though the question now many had was who was it going to be?

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  • [1] There has yet to be a World Cup meeting with the two yet to played...hopefully someday.
  • [2] In TTL ofc.
  • [3] Once again, we have the Clive Thomas incident here as seen IOTL in which he blew his whistle after Brazil scored and denied them the goal. It happens here though this time happening to poor Italy.
  • [4] Remember Wembley '77...
  • [5] MacLeod suffers not a bad aftermath like OTL, though the loss to England does muddy the waters for him somewhat. Either way Scotland don't have such a horrendous campaign like OTL.
  • [6] Maradona didn't play at a WC until 1982, here he gets his chance earlier here.
  • [7] The game is pretty much like OTL Japan vs Belgium game in 2018 in which the Belgians came back from two goals down to win.
  • [8] This game is like the OTL 1990 WC match with England and Cameroon. You can see Australian football has come a long way by this point.
So there we are, our mad Quarter-final list and I bet there are a few results you weren't expecting but what do you think would've been the game the ATL version of you would've loved to have seen? So that leaves us with our Last four as follows:
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England vs Brazil

West Germany vs Netherlands
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Who will make it and are you looking forward to whatever I have in store for 1982? Ofc I bet you do! :p Until then, catch you later!
 

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1978 FIFA World Cup Semi-Finals
1978 FIFA WORLD CUP
Part 4

The Semi-finals of the 1978 World Cup brought up a unique last four in which came to be known as the 'Champion Semis' due to the fact the four teams in question had all won the World Cup at least once [1] and while this might've been quite interesting for those nations playing, for many neutrals however it did make some lose interest in the World Cup at that point in which it meant no new name on the trophy.

That all said, the fixtures had some truly great encounters with the hosts once again taking on England for the third time in a row while West Germany and the Netherlands would play in a rematch to see who would reach the final. All played on the same day, the world awaited for what many hoped would be an exciting day of football and even by this point no one was sure who would get to the final; first up, England vs Brazil...

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Brazil vs England during the opening moments of the match
To say both sides had gotten sick of playing each other would be an understatement in which this was the third time they faced each other in a row and no more were sick of this than England had always come up short against Brazil. However there was a feeling after putting a run together and seeing that the hosts were lucky to get past Italy like that then this could be third time lucky maybe?

However this Brazil team seemed to have given a severe talking to by their manager following the Italy game and Brazil would get the first goal thanks to Zico in the 17th minute and England spent most of the first half chasing shadows. That being said, there were a few bright moments from England mostly coming from Kevin Keegan who towards the end of the first half manage to scare the Brazilians by the the post a few times yet couldn't find a breakthrough for England.

The first half ended with the Brazilians still in front by a single goal yet it was fair to say that England were far from out of it. Brazil would make the mistake by taking their foot off the gas during the early part of the second half which only invited England to probe Brazilin search of an equaliser and that would come back to bite Brazil in which Trevor Brooking scored England's equaliser in the 67th minute to silence the Maracanã and perhaps now could turn this game around?

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English players celebrate after England tied the game with Brazil during the second half
By this point the crowd seemed to be growing restless and among the older folks in the vast stadium were fears that a second Maracanazo [2] seemed possible as that goal only helped to energise England and came very close in the 72nd minute in which Ray Wilkins had a shot which hit the crossbar and was so close to taking the lead for England. Just as the crowd was starting to jeer and whistle at their team for making it easy for England to try and beat them, it then turned to cheers of euphoria.

In the 78th minute, Zico became Brazil's hero strike home the goal that would see Brazil make it to their first final in eight years while England's hopes of reaching the final for the first time in twelve years had been snatched away by them. That all said despite the sad loss of losing to Brazil once again, England had performed their best World Cup since 1966 and there was still the third place game to play.

While England had to regroup for one more game, all over Brazil there were celebrations that they had reached the final and that now nothing could them now. So much so that many of the locals seemed to not care about the other Semi-final taking place. Nonetheless, Brazil could sit back and await as to who would be the team they would play in a few days time from now.

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Blurry footage of Brazilians players celebrating after Zico's victory goal

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The Germans and Holland fight it out for a place in the final
The other Semi that day would really be an eye-catching one in which rivals West Germany and Holland prepared to battle it out for a place in the final which in turn was a rematch for 1974 and one that the Germans wanted to win badly in order to make up for losing it on home soil. So much hype was put up claiming the game to be a rematch of sorts and followed was not only a game that didn't disappoint, but perhaps one of the greatest World Cup matches ever and that was even after many were raving about the Quarter-final tie with Australia and Holland.

It would be the Germans that scored first in the 3rd minute and they did put on a lot of pressure to try and get another goal. However the Dutch would get a goal back in the 27th minute to go level and then the Dutch came into life and now were looking to find a winner that would take them to the final for the second time in a row. Alas neither side could score in the first half and it was clear that the game was still too close to call.

The game was a pretty tense one during the second half though it did see Dutch have more of the ball though the game would take another turn in the 70th minute when the Germans were awarded a free kick against the run of play and it would lead to a shock goal by Dieter Müller to give West Germany the lead and what looked like the goal that would take them to Rio. What were the champions going to do now?

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Dutch players argue with the referee
Despite this set back, the Dutch rallied round to equalise some eight minutes before the end though despite their best efforts, they themselves couldn't find a winning goal along with the Germans which meant the game now had to go to extra time. It would be a classic end-to-end game in which one wrong move could decide the game, however that wasn't the problem the Dutch had for having to play that gruelling Quarter-final tie in extra time before meant that as extra time neared it's end, the Dutch team were looking tired while the Germans could sense this.

As a result, Müller would finally break hearts for the Dutch in the 112th minute when he fired in a volley, West Germany's third, in which by that point the Netherlands had nothing else to give and as the final whistle blew, the Netherlands' grip on the world cup had been ripped off by the Germans [3] and Die Mannschaft would celebrate that finally they had made it to a final for the first time since 1954 and some would say it was a long overdue return for a team like West Germany [4].

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West German players celebrate scoring the goal in extra time that takes them to Rio

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Final results of the 1978 Semi-finals
After that, the 24 teams that started this colourful and thrilling World Cup had now been reduced to two, Brazil and West Germany, to play it out in the final in which Brazil were hoping to get their fourth honour while the Germans wanted to get their long awaited second. Of course there was the Third place game to play with England and Holland in what nothing more than to play for pride.

The question now was which of these two would win...?

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  • [1] This wouldn't happen until 1990 in OTL
  • [2] Many football fans will know what this means.
  • [3] The game is, other than the addition of extra time, the same as OTL encounter with the two.
  • [4] ITTL, 1954 is still West Germany's only final having failed to make the '74 final here.
So there we are, perhaps results you might've seen and that is our final, Brazil vs West Germany in Rio! Once again, thank you for your constant support as it always motivates me to put this out there and we are nearly at the end of the 70's and soon will be in Spain for 1982! Until then, one more update to and then we'll see a true World Cup if you know what I mean!

See you soon!
 
Netherlands vs England
The dutch are tired as hell after playing two consecutive extra-time games, so all England has to do is have a solid defense and hope for the best on extra-time, unless they manage to score before that.

Brazil vs West Germany
Simply too close to call for me. On one hand Brazil is the host, but on the other hand Brazil is the host. But I think Brazil can win it considering that the germans come from playing extra-time and before that winning thanks to Argentina taking their foot off the gas in the second half.
 
1978 FIFA World Cup Third-Place game and Final
1978 FIFA WORLD CUP
Part 5

On the eve of the final, England and Holland played in the third-place match in which while there was nothing truly to play for, there was still pride to be had. The game itself was actually the first time the two nations had played each other at a Word Cup [1] and despite what many though of the Dutch, it was in fact England that were given the nod by many to win this tie and for good reason.

The Dutch team were both exhausted from playing two past games that went into extra time and also the fact that they were heartbroken over how they had lost to their rivals like that. That all being said despite the Dutch looking weary, England didn't seem to have a decent shot on target and the game for the most part in the first half was a sluggish and rather torrid affair with the Brazilian summer heat and humidity not helping matters either.

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England and Holland during the third-place match
The first half would come to an end and the less said about it the better that despite England looking slightly better, they had failed to use that to their advantage and the feeling that the Dutch might spring a surprise was certainly a possibility. However the second half would be an improvement as England now looked more sharper and the Netherlands were now dead on their feet and their misery would finally come to a head in the 71st minute when Kevin Keegan scored the winner and help ultimately get England their best finish at a World Cup since 1966.

For Keegan, his seven goals would help him collect the golden boot that year and England felt a sense that they were onto something and who knows what they could achieve in the next decade? For the Dutch, it was a fall from grace and was their glory days already over? They still had another World Cup to try and qualify for but right now, the host nation prepared itself for the final they were excited for...Brazil vs West Germany.

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The two teams during the second half

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Final result of the 1978 Third-Place game
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At last though the day after, a packed Maracanã gathered in the their hope that Brazil would win their fourth World Cup in their own backyard and banish the demons of 1950. The final would be rather unusual due to the fact that the host nation would be playing in blue rather than their more famous yellow and blue kit and one might've felt a sense of dread that something was not right, though the vast majority in that huge stadium were happy to look past that knowing that with the team they had that surely they could do it.

However as the final began, the Brazil team did look rather sheepish as if maybe the occasion might've gotten to them while West Germany did seem to have more in the tank to take care of this Brazilian side and they did trouble them in the 24th minute when one German shot hit the post which was surely a warning that that this might not be set in stone so easily.

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Brazil vs West Germany during the final
That said, Zico did nearly score for Brazil in the 38th minute but was just a little bit too high over the crossbar and the first half would end with the game still deadlocked and even the partisan crowd was starting to feel that this might be more tougher than they might've anticipated. Then in the second half as the progress, the Brazilian team was now starting to crack from the pressure and West Germany could sense that this was theirs for the taking and in the 55th minute, Dieter Müller fired in a goal that silenced the Maracanã crowd and for the older generation, horrible flashbacks started to return...

Brazil tried all they could to find a goal, or anything for that matter to try and prevent a defeat. However it was clear now that Brazil were running round like headless chickens and a second disaster for Brazil for the host nation now loomed and this was completed in the, oddly fitting numbered, 78th minute when the Germans scored the second and ultimately winning goal which made a the Maracanã crowd speechless at what they were witnessing. For the second time, Brazil had lost it on their own backyard.

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One sad Brazilian supporter weeps after West Germany's second goal
In the closing minutes of the game saw a number of strange scenes in the crowd, some left in dismay, many wept and some fought with others expressing their anger and how this could've happened and when the final whistle went, the second Maracanazo had happened [2] and a stunned and silent crowd, except for the small number of German supporters in Rio, watched as the German players celebrated winning their second World Cup for the first time since 1954 [3].

Despite a rather dramatic ending, it had been a rather success World Cup and this marked the end of the last 24 team format as the following World Cup in Spain would see an even larger number of teams and maybe might see a unlikely contender from outside Europe or South America. For now, West Germany could celebrate that after the sadness of not winning it in their own backyard, they are more or less redeemed themselves. Spain though was calling...

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Result of the 1978 World Cup final

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  • [1] They wouldn't meet until the 1990 WC in OTL
  • [2] One rule of any football TL is that Brazil as hosts always loses :p
  • [3] ITTL this marks West Germany's second world cup victory
So now we are at the end of 1978 and hopefully that was enjoyable for you :) Anyway, sneak peek as we see what a 32 team WC for 1982 looks like:

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I'll explain more in the next update as to why this is the case with who qualified and how it works, until then though, see you for the next update and hopefully a draw that doesn't go wrong...;)
 
And thus, the World Cup expands even further. Here's the FIFA retrospective ranking and the map of results of the 1978 World Cup:
FIFA retrospective ranking
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Map of results
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1982 FIFA World Cup Seeding and Group Stage
1982 FIFA WORLD CUP
Part 1


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When it was first announced that the World Cup was to be expanded from 24 teams to 32, it was fair say that there were a number of critics who said while they supported the idea in principle, they said that is was too much too soon considering that it was only sixteen years ago that the World Cup had been last expanded and even then some felt that the quality of the World Cup had diminished with many so called 'poor' teams from outside Europe and South America doing what they claim was to make up numbers.

While this might've been true, the expansion of the World Cup at that point would see it look more attractive for countries thinking that they had a chance to do something and that the World Cup wouldn't be such a close shop and thus, football was now becoming the most popular sport on the planet by the time the expansion for 32 teams was announced [1]. Thankfully unlike with Argentina, there were no problems with the hosts and they more or less the stadiums needed for what was at that point the biggest World Cup in history and would see a record number of teams making their debut.

While the European teams still had 14 automatic places as before, it was worldwide in which the change happened in which saw five teams from South America now qualify, and extra third team from North America joining [2], two from Oceania [3], four from Africa [4] and Asia [5] would show a true world cup and something that many felt was right by FIFA in making less bias in favour of Europe and South America.

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The seeded teams prior to the draw
With such a big draw anything could happen in such a World Cup and at the draw there would be, but all the wrong reasons in which after FIFA went to great lengths to explain that a maximum of two European and one South American set of teams would make up a group [6], the draw itself would be riddled with so many embarrassing problems such as the mistakes of certain teams and the cages carrying the balls, used for the Spanish national lottery, broke down all front a large live TV audience and some speculated that this was a sign of things to come [7].

Nonetheless after such a shambolic draw, the teams were all in place and in it would bring up some very unlikely teams drawn together and while many might've thought they might've thought it would be all easy for the seeded teams, little did anyone known that from the start of the opening match between West Germany and Algeria that shocks would be the main source of entertainment.

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When the champions saw they had been place in a group that feature Algeria, El Salvador and Belgium (the latter being the only team they considered to be a challenge) they must've thought they had been very lucky and with the debut African side being the opening match with Belgium and El Salvador taking place later in the day, this was surely a walk over.

However all their lack of homework on Algeria and their gloating about how they were going to score a seventh goal for their wives and eighth goal for their dogs would come back to haunt them as Algeria would shock the world by beating them 2-1 [8] and if that was the opening match then surely what was only the sign of things to come? The Germans would get back into action when they blasted apart El Salvador 3-0, however that loss would really be something they'd regret...

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Algeria during their shock victory over the champions
Elsewhere in the group, Belgium had been quietly going about their business with a victory over whipping boys El Salvador before they nearly fell foul to the Algerians in a 2-2 draw. With the plucky African side eventually winning their final group, that same day saw West Germany needing a victory to go through though the Belgians only needed a draw which saw them score first in the 37th minute and the Germans would spend most of the game playing up against a brick wall with them only getting a goal late on but it would prove to be too late as Belgium would finish a point ahead and the reigning champions were dumped out of the first round [9].

For many, it was a shock to see them finish in such a woeful position and there was no best ranked third place spot to save them this time, however some felt it was karma after how much they belittled the Algerians and got their just deserts and with one of the favourites out, was this World Cup going to be more open? For Algeria, their success would see them be the first African side to top a group and they became the world's favourite team [10]. The question now was how far could they go...?

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Final Group A results of World Cup 1982
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If many thought Group A was full of shocks, then Group B wouldn't be far behind which had Italy, Yugoslavia, Australia and North Korea, the latter haven't not been seen at a World Cup since 1966. By this point for Australian football, there was now expectation placed on the team and even though they had Italy in their first match which many felt would be a challenge and would look like it when Italy scored first, however after Australia scored late on to gain a point, that would only be the start of Italy's problems.

Worst was to follow for the Italians as they made the same mistake as the Germans did by underestimated North Korea who shocked them by getting a draw [11] and that meant they simply had to beat Yugoslavia to go through. However speaking of which, Yugoslavia despite making a return to the World cup after a eight year absence would get off to a good start by beating North Korea 3-0 before getting a 2-2 draw with Australia, the latter beating North Korea to go through which meant that last qualifying place would be decided between Italy and Yugoslavia.

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Italy vs Yugoslavia in their final group match
The game would mostly be a dull game up until the final ten minutes in which Yugoslavia opened the scoring and Italy scored late on and tried to find a winner that would take them through, however that was not meant to be as Yugoslavia held their defence to draw the game and shock the Italians to make a early exit and would see the Yugoslavs leapfrog the Australians on goal difference to clinch the top spot [12]. The Italians left Spain humiliated and wonder just how on earth they could let this happen but at least they would have some company on the way out along with the Germans...

For Yugoslavia, their success would happen to have some wonderful timing that in the wake of the death of their leader General Josip Broz Tito this perhaps what was needed to be a feel good story for the nation and maybe then this could give them something to cheer about and who knew what this might lead to? For the Australians, their football team had come a long way from the flop of 1966 and were now willing to try one better and go all the way. Given the shocks so far could they do it?

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Final Group B results of World Cup 1982

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With an unprecedent amount of shocks taking place in the first two groups, Northern Ireland's stunning victory over Spain in their opening match must've come as no surprise [13] and for the little nation, Northern Ireland would pull an unbeaten run by drawing with Chile and beating Morocco to become the unlikely group winners. Not bad for a team that hadn't been seen at a World Cup since 1966.

The game with Spain and Morocco would be a fascinating encounter for many reasons as not only there was the historic and complex relation between the two nations but at the fact that both nations had lost their opening group games and needed a victory to have a chance to stay in. Spain would get the victory needed that kept their hopes alive and killed off Morocco's hopes in the process.

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Spain vs Northern Ireland in their opening group match.
The final group game for Spain would be against Chile who had been in the background doing quite well with a victory and draw which now meant they only needed a draw to go through and there was a lot of pressure on the hosts to not fall foul of the Germans and Italians. Thankfully for the hosts, they would get a tight 1-0 victory which saw them scrape through in second place and Chile had the frustration of coming so close yet fell at the final hurdle to go through. Maybe better luck next time?

While the hosts breathed a sigh of relief of not wanting to be the first host nation to crash out in the first round, they hadn't really impressed many to show that they had what it took to show that they were out to win the World Cup in their own backyard. On the other hand, many were just happy that Spain had gotten through and compared to the seeded nations so far, that was better than what most could say they had done.

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Final Group C results of 1982 World Cup

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When Group D showed that England and France would be drawn in a weak group featuring Kuwait and Honduras, it was a no brainer that these two would go through with the only question was who would finish where. However both didn't impress in their opening games in which England could only beat Kuwait by a single goal [14] and France could only record a 2-0 victory over Honduras.

However the next game saw England and France drawn together and England would destroy the French 3-1 which also featured the fastest goal scored in a World Cup [15]. However the French would regain pride when they defeated Kuwait by four goals to one though it would prove to be an eventful game which saw the president of the Kuwait football association actually made the referee chalk off a French goal though it wouldn't help matters [16].

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England vs France in their second group game
All in all, the group was perhaps what many might've thought it would have gone and compared to the other groups, it did seem something of an anti-climax though it did seem some sort of order had been restored here. Nonetheless with both European sides through to the knockout stage, who was to say that they could put together a good run and now on to try and win the World Cup?

Given at the big names that had fallen already, it wasn't quite a bad mindset to think of that...

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Final Group D results of World Cup 1982

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Group E would see the return of the Soviet Union who back after a eight year absence though their placing as a seeded team draw criticism that they shouldn't be in that position [17] with allegations of FIFA being bribed being one of them though FIFA stressed that this was taking in consideration of the USSR's ranking prior to the draw being made. Nonetheless being in a group with Scotland, Peru and debutants New Zealand would've made them feel good about how well they might be able to go.

A tight 1-0 victory over Peru, along with a 2-2 draw with the Scots [18] which ended in a 3-0 win over the Kiwis [19] saw them go though undefeated, however Scotland were willing to show that under the new management of Jock Stein, they were willing to show the world what they could do and they would finish as group winners on goal difference with most of the goals coming in from their 5-2 victory over New Zealand [20].

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Scotland vs USSR in their second group game
While the final outcome of the group was probably what many expected, one mustn't forget about Peru who would have a frustrating campaign which saw them only getting a victory out of three games and defeat by Scotland saw them miss out on reaching the group stage by a long way and the less the said about poor New Zealand the better. With them losing all their games they had not only shown their lack of experience at playing at the highest level but was an example by the critics as to why the World Cup shouldn't be expanded on.

This would lead to FIFA to tweak the qualifications to introduce intercontinental playoffs as a way to remove the so called 'deadwood' teams from qualifying but that would be for another time...

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Final Group E results of World Cup 1982

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Group F saw the return of Wales and Nigeria at the World Cup for the first time since 1966 and 1970 respectably. However there also Mexico who were willing to see if they could do better than last time though this group had the always favourable Brazil team and not just any Brazil team, a Brazil side that looked like was out to do well and was stacked with talent.

Wales too had a number of star players themselves and Wales' return to the World Cup had saw much excitement in country with talks to try and make their own Welsh league and they couldn't have hoped for a better start when they beat Nigeria 2-1, though there would be another 2-1 score with Brazil though with Wales on the wrong end though they would book their place into the Last 16 with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Mexico who made an early exit.

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Wales vs Brazil at the 1982 World Cup
Mexico were somewhat underwhelming that after a 3-0 loss to Brazil, they managed to get a 2-1 victory over Nigeria before it all fell apart in a game with Wales in which they were winning 2-0 before Wales came from behind to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and leapfrog Mexico. And for poor Nigeria, they had the most rotten luck to have such a tough group to deal with.

For the group winners, Brazil, surely this Brazil team would do one better than the team from before that came so close yet so far in their own backyard? Given the team they had and without pressure from a home crowd, who knows...?

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Final Group F results of World Cup 1982

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Group G on paper was pretty straight forward with Argentina and Czechoslovakia looking like the two favourites to go through in a group that had debut teams Cameroon and China for company. Both would start off well with victories with Argentina winning 3-1 with Cameroon and the Czechs blasting apart China 4-0, neither good starts for two nations only starting at a World Cup.

Argentina and Czechoslovakia would both draw 2-2 while the African and Asian side could only muster a 1-1 draw. Following what seemed to be a group that seemed to be full of 'busy as usual' vibes, the Czechs won 3-0 in their final group game with Argentina winning too 4-1, however despite finishing on level points it would be the Czechs that finished as group winners [21] thanks to conceding not so many goals unlike Argentina.

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Argentina vs China in their final group match

In the end, it was a group that most expected would end up like with poor Cameroon and China leaving early and not really much to say in their first World Cup adventure. Then again who was to say that they wouldn't be seen again soon?

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Final Group result of World Cup 1982

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The final group would see a strange match up of Poland, Hungary, Uruguay and newcomers Japan. Though it would perhaps one of the greatest shocks in a World Cup when it was all done. After missing out on the last World Cup, Uruguay were hoping that they could be a contender but lost in their opening match 3-2 to Poland who were looking to win the group.

Things would get worse for Uruguay when they suffered a shock loss to Japan after they gave away a late penalty and in turn that meant for Japan they only needed a victory to progress. Could they do it? Also in the group were Hungary and would have a uneventful group stage to say the least in which they smashed Japan 3-1, drew Poland 0-0 before getting another draw with Uruguay.

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The Polish team celebrates after their victory over Uruguay
Poland just needed a point to progress, however they would underestimate Japan and the Japanese would make things difficult for Poland throughout the game even though a draw would be enough to see Poland through. However Japan would shock everyone when right in injury time, they scored to beat Poland and dump them out of the World Cup to become only the second Asian nation to make it to the next round.

The result was damning for the Poles and like with some other big names, they made an embarrassing early exit with them having falling into the same trap of underestimating their opponents with from then on every humiliating defeat for Poland would be refereed to as 'another Japan'. Nonetheless for those who had kept faith in expansion felt vindicated that it had worked with many new nations from outside Europe and South America doing well it felt that more was to follow.

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Final Group H results of World Cup 1982
The day after Japan's historic victory over Poland would begin the first set of knockout games and with such an unlikely last 16 making up the numbers, there was a feeling that perhaps things weren't going to all what many might've expected. 1982 was in many ways unlike any other World Cup before hand...

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At last, here we are! Anyway before I say anything, here are some notes to follow and I apologise that there are a few:
  • [1] With early football expansion, the sport is more popular here early on than OTL.
  • [2] Pretty straight forward really, the third place team, this case Mexico, goes through.
  • [3] Top two from OFC, which is OTL Group 1 from AFC/OFC qualification go through, Australia are a bit like Mexico for Oceania being the team that always qualifies.
  • [4] How the qualification progress for Africa is pretty straight forward, four go through automatically which OTL Third Round becomes the TTL's final round which see's four African teams going through.
  • [5] How qualification works here is as thus: Kuwait and Saudi Arabia win their groups to play in a play off in which based on OTL results, Kuwait goes through. For China and North Korea, they win their groups as in OTL, though they qualify automatically which means that the second place teams in those groups, Japan and Hong Kong respectably, go into a play off to decide the final Asian spot in which Japan wins and goes through.
  • [6] Quite like how OTL WC draws work today.
  • [7] The draw is still a shambles like in OTL, though perhaps even more so with 32 teams being drawn a larger TV audience watching :p
  • [8] Pretty much the same OTL result, though this time being the opening match.
  • [9] This wouldn't happen until 2018 as we all know.
  • [10] Good thing ITTL is that Algeria are not screwed over here and go through as what they deserved.
  • [11] 1966 Vibes here...
  • [12] Yugoslavia do go through here in which in OTL, they only missed out on goal difference.
  • [13] Same as OTL.
  • [14] As OTL.
  • [15] As OTL.
  • [16] Same crazy moments still happens like in OTL.
  • [17] Bit like how in OTL many complained about England's seeding.
  • [18] As OTL
  • [19] As OTL
  • [20] As OTL
  • [21] Things go better for the Czechs being in a more easier group.
Hope that wasn't too draining to read but I'm quite pleased with this update and my first attempt at trying out 32 teams. And yes, there are a lot of shock results with the Germans' fate being somewhat deserved as we all know what happened there, Italy too to some extent in which looking back they were quite lucky to get through. And finally Poland who are always quite an unpredictable beast. And I forgot to mention how Uruguay get there, well here they qualify as the best ranked second place team which in turn I hope my ideas are quite straight forward to understand.

However, during this TL I do have one idea I'm tempted to try and it involves one nation, or two, and how it might see much butterflies of UEFA qualification though I need to hear what you think first before I try it out...
I have been thinking about that Yugoslavia goes on a good run at this World Cup which helps create a lot of goodwill that see's the country return to a monarchy (ala Spain) sometime in 1984 and this would see the country not break up as OTL would be a federal monarchy. I'm also thinking of keeping Czechoslovakia together too, maybe a good run at 1990 does enough to help unite the nation much like Yugoslavia.
However I won't go for them unless you think I should try.

Anyway, the fixture list as always:
---------
Algeria vs Australia

England vs Spain

Scotland vs Wales

Hungary vs Argentina

Yugoslavia vs Belgium

Northern Ireland vs France

Brazil vs Soviet Union

Czechoslovakia vs Japan
---------

So who, what and why will qualify? Until then, hope you enjoyed this update and see you next time! :)
 

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Algeria vs Australia

England vs Spain

Scotland vs Wales

Hungary vs Argentina

Yugoslavia
vs Belgium

Northern Ireland vs France

Brazi
l vs Soviet Union

Czechoslovakia vs Japan
 
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