Prologue: Preventing a Boycott and the Expansion for the 1966 FIFA World Cup
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    A TRUE WORLD CUP
    An Early World Cup Expansion
    By QTXAdsy

    Prior to qualification for the 1966 FIFA World Cup in England, FIFA found itself in the middle of a controversy and a headache. In 1964, 31 African nations threatened to boycotted the tournament to protest a 1964 FIFA ruling that required the three second-round winners from the African zone to enter a play-off round against the winners of the Asian zone in order to qualify for the World Cup, as they felt winning their zone was enough in itself to merit qualification [1]. Even though they might've thought about this, the rest of the World, mainly in Europe and South America felt very little to their cause as those so called 'teams' made nothing more than making up numbers at a tournament and often got smacked down with ease.

    CAF during this time pleaded with FIFA to try and change their stance on the matter...one of them being an expansion of the tournament from 16 to 20 teams [2]. Despite many thinking that their hopes would be wasted, the idea suddenly caught on among the higher ups at FIFA, mostly by it's president, Stanley Rous, who began to think that such a proposal might have some merit that not only it could help prevent a boycott but also prove to the World that the World Cup would truly be a World Cup rather than a European/South American affair. Much back and forward between many members at FIFA took place until right on the even of qualification that FIFA made the announcement that the 1966 World Cup would be expanded to host 20 teams with one African team qualifying automatically for winning the 1965 Africa Cup of Nations with the runner up playing into the play off round in the Asian side, which in the end would be Ghana and Tunisia respectably [3].

    The news brought a mixed response in which while those outside Africa and Asian might've been happy with the news by ending their boycott, UEFA felt that it would for a weaker tournament with the loudest voice coming from Scottish Chief Executive Willie Allan bemoaning that, "If raising the entry meant that more teams of the calibre of Costa Rica, Ghana and Australia would reach the finals, then I would rather be champion of Europe than champion of the world." [4]. In order to try and please UEFA, FIFA quickly tweaked the qualification with Europe having a raise of 8 to 14 teams to qualify which now meant the 1966 World Cup would see 24 teams competing, though there was some grumblings around Europe that the only reason why the European teams would have more spaces was that the English FIFA president wanted to have the likes of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to compete in England to give the hopes of a British team to win the cup. However despite this, the qualification would come and go and in the end and would see not only a record number of new teams to take place, but also the return of several teams making a long awaited return...

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    List of teams that qualified for the 1966 World Cup
    From outside Europe alone, 5 teams would make their debut being Australia, Costa Rica, Ghana, North Korea and Tunisia, though it's fair to say that due that some qulaified in rather unorthodox circumstances. While Ghana would be a shoe in for winning the African Cup of Nations in 1965 and Costa Rica [5] would go through for finishing in second place behind Mexico, the rest were somewhat strange. Prior before the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) would exist, Australia would have to play in the AFC in order to qualify in a group that featured South and North Korea and, somewhat oddly, South Africa. CAF had threatened to boycott if South Africa were to play in qualifying rounds due to the apartheid regime and despite being placed in the AFC, the voices from CAF grew louder and thus South Africa were disqualified. The formation of that qualifying stage would see the top two go through with the third place spot being the play off round that would see that team play Tunisia in a two legged affair to qualify for the World Cup.

    The group of three suddenly became a group of two when South Korea decided to withdraw [6] due to not only not wanting to face North Korea but also not having the finance to take the team out to Tunisia to play and thus suddenly the African side became on the second team to qualify for the World Cup without playing a game, the first being India though unlike them who later withdrew, the Tunisians would not let this chance slip and for a country celebrating it's 10th anniversary as an independent nation in 1966, what better way than to make their debut a major sporting occasion to show itself on the World's stage?

    For Australia and North Korea, they two had both technically qualified but still had to play in order to fill the demands, though neither nation recognised each other due to be opposing sides of the Korean war and thus played at a neutral venue in Cambodia in which the Koreans won both legs [7]. Nonetheless the fact both nations would play at a World Cup would see much excitement in both nations. In Europe, the 1966 World Cup would see a very British feel about it with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland qualifying for the first time since 1958 and incidentally was the last time all the Home Nations were last seen at a World Cup [8]. The expanded tournament would be very useful for them as all of them finished in runners up spot with just enough points to qualify. The only European nation making it's debut would be Norway [9] and would be the sole Scandinavian team at the World Cup.

    There was one problem with such an expanded tournament...the venues needed.

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    List of venues used for the 1966 World Cup
    When it was found out that 12 venues would be needed, expanded from the 8 stadiums before, it would be an expensive task to pull off. However the good fortune was the fact that England was hosting the tournament because England had the largest stadiums that could be used for the task in mind in the short time needed and had it been other nation hosting it, it is likely that the increase to 24 teams would have likely never had happened.

    The venues chosen were picked for their close geographic positions nearby which was to help with the reduced travel times for both players and fans alike, something that was greatly appreciated by all concern. With all this in place, everyone felt that it was more open than ever as the world descend on England that summer in 1966 and it was fair to say that some things would never be quite the same way again...

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    From the person that brought you 'All To Play For', comes another football TL...A True World Cup! Before you say anything, no this isn't a reboot for ATPF as this is separate and I could never let my old TL die as it is still active when we get round to Euro 2021, hope you are all taking care in this difficult times and hopefully this TL might offer a bit of escapism for everyone on here. However as e have a long wait, I bring you this new TL in which it's POD is preventing the African boycott and seeing an increase number of 24 teams much early than OTL. Might sound ASB but the idea fascinated me with perhaps many teams outside Europe and South America improving earlier on and seeing major butterflies sporting wise.

    Anyway, here are some of the points you might want to know...

    [1] This is how it all starts, as we all know their boycott went ahead but here...
    [2] The POD in which the proposal to expand to the tournament happens earlier here, it was planned to happen in 1978 but even then that didn't happen until 1982.
    [3] Both reach that final in 1965 as OTL
    [4] This was said by a the president of the Belgian FA over when the tournament was proposed to expand in 1978, however here it said by the Scots, just because... ;)
    [5] Both would be in those places as OTL, only difference is that both qualify for the World Cup.
    [6] Happens as per OTL.
    [7] Happens as per OTL.
    [8] Still as of 2020 in OTL still the last time all four were seen at a World Cup.
    [9] Norway wouldn't qualify until the 1994 World Cup in OTL.

    So hope you enjoyed the start of this new TL and if you are one of my followers from before, hello again! And if you are a new reader to my stuff...please to meet you and hope you will all enjoy the next update in which will be the group stage, going to be quite a trip...
     
    1966 FIFA World Cup Seeding and Group Stage
  • 1966 FIFA WORLD CUP
    Part One

    Just before Christmas 1965 and just soon as the qualification had concluded, the draw would be made however much like a lot of things were going to be different as unlike previous World Cup draws in which were drawn out by their continental locations, the draw for the 1966 World Cup would be the first to included seeded teams that take into account of their ratings as of that month (which in retrospect would be the creation of the World Football Elo Ratings) [1] which proved to be quite alien to many and it wasn't without it's critics.

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    The seedings of the 1966 qualified teams prior to the draw
    Many were split of the format; while many could agree having the hosts, England, and the reigning champions, Brazil, alongside the seeded teams with the newcomers like Australia and Costa Rica in Pot C, some felt that some countries should've been in a higher or lower place depending on their status, however undoubtedly the biggest controversy to many was the placing of Ghana in Pot A as many felt they should've down in the pecking order, though many in Africa would deny this considering that not only during the mid 60's that this Ghana team was not only the strongest African team at that point but also in the middle of their 'golden years'.

    FIFA did point out that after checking through the rankings as of which teams were sitting at during that period was that indeed Ghana were justified of their place being quite high ranked on the list [2]. In the end, many begrudgingly gave up arguing and the draw would be broadcast live to the world and in it there were to be many fascinating draws made, which even then many felt that this World Cup might have a few shock results along the way.

    The opening event at Wembley on a bright sunny day which saw the many teams lined up with the message being that the motherland of football had opened up for the whole world to take part in with Her Majesty The Queen declaring that the World Cup be opened with the opening match to be played between England and Mexico and the start of what many hoped to be a thrilling tournament.

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    Final table and results of Group 1
    While England would win the opening match 2-0, the Mexicans did proved to be quite a stubborn side to break down, however the hosts hadn't exactly set the world on fire with that performance and knew they'd have to do better. The following day came the turn of France vs Tunisia which for the later ever since the draw had been made had been eagerly anticipated as this match against their former colony masters on their 10th anniversary as an independent nation would have a lot riding on it. The game itself would end in a 0-0 draw with the team really playing for it, but the result was treated as a victory in Tunisia as not only had they manage to give France a red face but also had become the first African side to gain a point at the World Cup. For France it was to have a disappointing outcome for them later on.

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    England and Mexico play in the opening match at Wembley

    England would in their second game thrash the African nation while Mexico drew with the French which meant those under the English had everything to play for. The final group games would see France and England play out to a tight 1-1 draw while the Mexicans would get the victory they needed in order to progress with the English to the second round. Conflicted feelings fell upon the French as despite crashing out at this early stage, they hadn't lost a game and thus became the first team to go out of a World Cup undefeated [3], something though that didn't give the French much comfort in the grand scheme of things. For Tunisia, their English adventure would give them a lot to think about for the future...

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    Final table of results of Group 2
    As one of the seeded teams and the runners up at the last World Cup [4], the Czechs felt confident that they could repeat their brave performance from last time, however they hadn't accounted for a Scottish side that was packed with talent, especially with the talents of Denis Law upfront who who would strike a dagger to the hearts of the Czechs in the opening match and would set up the fates for both sides. However the real story was that of North Korea who despite being an unknown side would comfortably take out the Australians in what was both their debut match and things hadn't changed since that two legged affair from before.

    The Czechs would gain some pride when they blasted the sorry and inexperienced Australians 4-0 apart and ended their World Cup adventure before it had even started, though many were forgiving of them for this was their first World Cup to play at. Meanwhile the Scots would beat the Koreans 2-0 in what was a bit of a strange match considering both sides had been in different sides of the Korean war, though the North Koreans weren't finished yet.

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    Scotland players coming onto the pitch prior to the game with North Korea

    The final group games saw Scotland get all 6 points as they ended Australia's hopes, though they did get their first goal to at least go away with something and the Scots were delighted to finally make it the second round on the third time of trying. However the biggest shock of all would happen at Villa Park in which the Czechs knew that a point would be enough to see them through, however North Korea would shock the world as they scored the winning goal that sent the runners up at the last World Cup crash out in embarrassing circumstances [5]. The combination of the so called 'bigger' team's arrogance and the newcomer's will to win would see North Korea become the first Asian side to reach the second round [6] and proved to everyone that this expanded format might have merit to it.

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    Final table and results of Group 3
    Group 3 was one in which many expected the Italians and the West Germans to progress with ease, though the Germans' loss to Italy in their opening group match would make them sweat and would start a trend of the joke that the Germans can never beat the Italians in football [7]. Costa Rica would have a tournament debut to forget about in which they lost all their matches and were to make an early exit home.

    Chile felt rather frustrated that having made it to the semis last time that they could at least reach the second round and during their final match with West Germany they only needed a win and throughout that final match they held the Germans for a lot of the match and looked as they might be able to cause an upset, however West German would pop up and get the goal needed to see them through and dump the South Americans out.

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    West Germany prior to the game with Costa Rica

    The Italians were favourites from the off and never once coincided a goal which made them ones that would go all the way, though with the exception of the Germans, the rest had been rather easy teams...[8]

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    Final table and results of Group 4
    The weakest group of that World Cup would prove to have not much to say about other than many expected the Soviet Union to finish as the Group winners as they did, though many were disappointed with Uruguay who flopped and Hungary would put on an unlikely run to join the Russians into the second round, though this wasn't the Hungarian team of the 50's that was for sure.

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    The Russians coming onto the field prior to the start of their match with Switzerland
    While not many thought much of the Russians, there were some who thought that they might be able to cause an upset or two and with them winning the group unbeaten then there was some thinking that might be the case.

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    Final table and results of Group 5
    In contrast to Group 4, Group 5 was considered to be the group of death by many with Northern Ireland looked set to be the whipping boys. Brazil might've been one of the favourites as always, however Portugal would give their former colony a bloody nose [9]. Elsewhere Northern Ireland would shock Spain by beating them with that man, a certain George Best making his mark with that goal and the hopes of Northern Ireland going all the way.

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    George Best would make his first appearance at the 1966 World Cup

    Brazil would get back on track by beating Northern Ireland while Portugal ended Spain's chances in the Iberian derby. Spain's misery was concluded in their final match in which the Brazilians would hold them to a draw which proved to be just enough to see them through as Portugal would win the group by smashing Northern Ireland and ending their World Cup hopes. Nonetheless it would prove to be an experience that would hopefully aid them in the long term for the future.

    The one problem for Brazil was despite going through, Pele was injured in the game with Spain...[10]

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    Final table and results of Group 6
    The final group would see a strong Argentina team willing to show their world what they were made of by taking apart Ghana, though it most be noted that the Africans gave the Argentinians a scare as they were the ones who scored the first goal and look set to cause the mother of all shocks, though Argentina would get the better of the inexperience Africans. The Welsh would comfortably take apart the Norwegians with the Welsh enjoying the backing of the locals in Middlesbrough.

    The Welsh would suffer mishaps against Argentina while Ghana would blow a lead with Norway in a game the Africans should've won and pretty much left their hopes dangling by a thread. Wales would win their final game with Ghana though not before Ghana ran into a 2-1 lead and would take two somewhat dodgy penalties from Wales to put an end to Ghana's hopes of making it to the next round.

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    Two images of the Argentine team during the World Cup

    Norway would see an end to their rather poor campaign as Argentina would wreck them 4-0 and it would be a mere footnote for Norwegian football history. Nonetheless Argentina looked to be a strong side that could go all the way and thus the final 12 teams would now have to go onto a second group stage to decide who would make it to the semi final stage [11].

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    And so here we come to an end of the first round! Hope you enjoyed it and here are some notes to follow:
    [1] Something we all know today.
    [2] This is actually true as if you check the Elo ratings Ghana are actually high up.
    [3] In OTL, Scotland would be the first to pull this off in 1974.
    [4] As OTL.
    [5] Czechoslovakia end up having the same fate Italy had IOTL.

    [6] As OTL
    [7] As OTL, somethings never change :p
    [8] Take note of this later on...
    [9] Same result as OTL
    [10] Take note of this too...
    [11] The second stage will be pretty much the same as OTL's 1982 second group stage.

    Which speaking of which, here are the groups for the next update...

    Group A
    England
    Italy
    Wales

    Group B
    Scotland
    Soviet Union
    Brazil

    Group C
    Argentina
    Mexico
    West Germany

    Group D
    Portugal
    North Korea
    Hungary

    What will be your prediction on who will get to the last four? Find out next time! :)

     
    1966 FIFA World Cup Second Group Stage
  • 1966 FIFA WORLD CUP
    Part 2

    Unlike other World Cups before which would go into a knockout stage after the group stage, this tournament would have a second group stage of 4 groups of 3 with the winner of each group progressing to the semi finals [1]. While it would provide some mouth watering groups, it was a format that wasn't quite supported by all as many did feel it would bring up a lot of dead rubber games and thus it would be dropped for the next World Cup which would revert back to a knockout stage [2].

    To help ease with travel and recovery, each group would be played at a single venue such as Group A playing all their games at Wembley stadium. Little did anyone know then how tight and thrilling these groups would be.

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    Final table and results of Group A
    Group A would catch much attention with the hosts up against the favourites and and an all British clash which the latter would be the opener. Unlike the previous encounter in October in Cardiff in the Home Championship which had ended in a 0-0 draw [3], this game would be a thrilling clash in which despite a plucky Welsh performance, England came out on top which while it ended Welsh hopes there to progress, their fans gave them a warm reception to thank them for getting that far.

    Wales' second and Italy's first match of the group would see Italy run out comfortably as 2-1 victors with the Welsh getting a consolation goal towards the end. However despite going out with no points, that solo goal would come to haunt Italy as they went into their final match with England, the game many had been hoping to see with some ever stating that whoever won the group would win the cup.

    The game would be be a tense affair with Italy getting the opening goal and dominated large parts of the game and looking set for the semi finals, however a late goal near the end would see England claw back a draw and saw both sides finish on level points, however it would be England that would win the group by mere goal difference and saw Italy exit in heartbreaking circumstances [4]. For England, they were so close to the final...

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    English and Welsh players getting surrounded by fans after the first group match

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    Final table and results of Group B
    The Scots were playing for the first time in the second round and it quite nerve racking for the Scots as they faced the Soviet Union and the much fancied Brazil. Scotland did well to go into a 2-0 lead over the Russians at the end of the first half, in which many of the Scottish fans had come down in their numbers with many of the locals getting behind the Scots. However the Soviet Union would stun the Scots by dragging Scotland to a 2-2 draw which meant that Scottish hopes of reaching the semi finals looked doomed.

    The second game with Brazil and the USSR would raise many eyebrows with many assuming Brazil would beat the Russians, however with Pele being out injured [5] Brazil would stumble to a 1-1 draw which meant that it was all to play for as Scotland prepared to take on the mighty Brazil, a game that not many in Scotland would ever forget and willing to make up for throwing away that lead.

    The final game would be quite open and it would be that man, Denis Law, firing in the goal that led Scotland to the next round and saw mass celebrations across Scotland that saw them live up to going all the way. For Brazil, as horrible as this defeat was for the now former world champions, little did anyone knew then just of the Brazilian side that was to come out from this mess...[6].

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    Scotland players after their victory over Brazil

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    Final table and results of Group C
    Like Group A, Group C would be one of the tightest groups with the group being much about Argentina and West Germany, poor Mexico would be the whipping boys of the group as demonstrated with West Germany beating them 2-0 and could've even been up by much more, though little did they know then that they might've needed more goals later on...

    The big clash with West Germany and Argentina would be, despite much hype, a disappointing goalless draw [7], the good news was that if Argentina could beat Mexico by three goals without coinciding, they'd be in the semi finals. As a result, Argentina would duly deliver this and saw the South Americans win the group by goal difference and saw West Germany dumped out of the tournament.

    For Argentina as the sole South American team left in the last four, there would be some pressure on them now, though few would forget of the match that followed for better or for worse...

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    Argentina vs West Germany during the second group stage

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    Final table and results of Group D
    While some saw Group D as the weakest group of the bunch, it would though proved to be the most thrilling group from the first game in which much like they had shocked many before hand, North Korea's dream run looked seemed to carry on when they shocked Hungary winning 2-1, the aftermath for the Hungarians would be of humiliation on the scale of 1954 when they got home. The Asians became the underdog team everyone wanted to go all the way and became an unlikely force of good in the middle of the Cold War.

    The Asian miracle looked set to become a reality in North Korea's second match with Portugal when, playing such a high from their last game, North Korea ran into a 3-0 lead within 20 minutes and seemed set for a shock result that would seem them become the first Asian team reaching the last four. However Portugal would make a massive comeback to win 5-3 [8] Nonetheless North Korea would go out on a high note and proved the world that the expanded World Cup was really worth it.

    Portugal would conclude their unbeaten run by ripping the sorry Hungarians 3-1 to progress to the semi finals for the first time and would cement their status as the tournament's dark horses. With all the groups done, it was time for the semi finals with England, Scotland, Argentina and Portugal all to take part for a place in the final. Question was who would it be?

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    North Koreans celebrate taking the lead when it looked they were on the verge of reaching the last four...

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    [1] Pretty much the same format for OTL 1982 World Cup
    [2] As did with OTL's 1986 WC
    [3] As in OTL
    [4] Things go better for Italy at this WC that OTL, no North Korea to face...
    [5] As in OTL
    [6] You all know what happens in 1970...
    [7] As in OTL
    [8] As in OTL's Quater final

    There we are, hope you enjoyed the update and here is the last four as it stands:

    England vs Argentina

    Scotland vs Portugal

    Who do you think will go through, I think you might know how things might turn out but still, you never know. Hope you are all keeping safe and that this TL is enough to keep your mind of things. Should I carry on this TL with Mexico '70? Until then...see you soon!
     
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    1966 FIFA World Cup Semi Finals
  • 1966 FIFE WORLD CUP
    Part 3

    The last four of the 1966 would see the semi final revert to a simple knockout stage with both games being played on the same day with England taking on Argentina first at Wembley [1]. Indeed, with the exception of Argentina, it would be the first time that the other three teams left in the tournament which add to the fact that neither had ever won the World Cup at that point meant that a new name on the trophy was pretty much assured.

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    Final results of the Semi Finals of the 1966 World Cup
    The semi final at Wembley would not only be one of the more infamous games of the World Cup but a watershed moment in what would be part of the English/Argentina rivalry in which a tight game would be won by a goal from Hurst however the Argentinians would claim that the goal was offside, but it would be remembered for all the wrong reasons when Argentina's captain, Antonio Rattín, would be sent off in bizarre circumstances after receiving his second caution of the game. The Argentines considered the second caution to be unfair, including Rattín himself, who had to be escorted by police as he refused leave the pitch [2].

    While the English celebrated for reaching their first ever final, the South Americans would feel cheated from reaching the final and the match would be referred to in Argentina as el robo del siglo ("the theft of the century") [3]. The rivalry had truly begun.

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    Scene from the Semi final
    Later on that day, Scotland would take on Portugal at Old Trafford in Manchester in what was both their first Semi final and the Scots had brought along with them a huge support to help cheer the team on in the hopes of reaching Wembley for the final. However Portugal would prove to be Scotland's toughest test yet as Eusébio would fire Portugal into the lead and for large parts of the game, Portugal looked set to reach the final.

    However Scotland would throw everything towards the end with Baxter and Law getting the goals needed to help Scotland stun Portugal and ultimately send Scotland to the final and a memorable pitch invasion from Scotland fans who celebrated for reaching the final and even more so for Denis Law, a Manchester United player himself who had helped play a part in Scottish football history.

    It would be heartbreak for Portugal who had been the dark horse but had made everyone back home proud of their efforts. Suddenly the British Isles was now keenly awaiting for a highly anticipated all British clash which the British media proudly claimed would the biggest match of the century. Who knows what would happen when England and Scotland meet...?

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    Some happy Scotland fans invade the pitch after Scotland beat Portugal to reach the final

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    Here we are, I suspect you kinda thought that this would happy but here are some notes to follow...

    [1] As OTL, though in a Semi final here
    [2] Pretty much the same game as OTL, though as mentioned above being a semi final and not the OTL Quarter final
    [3] As OTL

    Hope you enjoyed that and next update will be the final and third place game and maybe, if you want it, a list of the teams competing for the 1970 WC...already been thinking of different countries hosting the WC ITL. Until then, catch you later! :)
     
    1966 FIFA World Cup Third Place Match and Final
  • 1966 FIFA WORLD CUP
    Part 4

    While the British public was looking forward for a mouth watering clash between England and Scotland, there was still the third place match between Argentina and Portugal to take place at Villa Park. The build up to the game was all about Antonio Rattín, the Argentina captain who had been sent off in the semi final and to add more to his troubles he would not be able to play in this game [1] and it was more terrible that even if Argentina had gotten to the final, he wouldn't be able to play.

    Without their captain, Portugal would easily dispatched Argentina with them winning the third place position [2] and the Argentinians would bemoan that the 1966 World Cup was a rough time for all. For their first time, Portugal had made one hell of an debut at this World Cup and had high hopes if they were to go one step further. For many though, the game itself would be seen a warm up for the final...

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    Final score of the third place match
    For many however, the final was the game that everyone in the UK wanted to see and the game would be a classic that would end this World Cup on a high note. It would be Scotland that started off the game more brightly when Denis Law would score first and hoped that he could help cause an upset. It wouldn't last for long however when Hurst would score to level the game which would see the first half end at that score.

    The Second half would be a dramatic finale when the game looked like it would go either way up until the 78th minute when Peters fired England into the lead and that looked to be the deciding goal to win the final...that was until a few minutes later when Law would stun England and fire Scotland back into the game and maybe extra time would be needed. Then in the 83rd minute after Scotland had gotten some momentum behind them would become the most infamous moment of the final in which Baxter might've scored Scotland into the lead, but his ball hit the crossbar and bounced on the line and a great deal of confusion followed in which the linesman felt, after a chat with the referee, made the choice of no goal given [3].

    If that was bad enough for the Scots, England saw a chance to take the advantage and Hurst would fly up the other end to score the final goal that ultimately give England victory and their hands on the World Cup and Scotland would feel gutted about their luck and that ghost goal, though years later when footage saw that the goal never crossed the line, many Scots would begrudgingly admit it was the right choice.

    All in all, the expanded World Cup to 24 teams had been a success and it would be carried on for Mexico '70. Who knows how the world of football was going to change over the next few decades...

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    Final result of the 1966 Final

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    The players coming on for the final

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    Scene from the final

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    England, World Cup Winners 1966


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    And so here we are, pretty expected as you see.

    [1] Would've been been the case in OTL if Argentina got to the semi final
    [2] Third place goes the same as OTL
    [3] A choice goes the way how it should've been...

    Anyway, next update will be Mexico '70 and to give you a build up, here are the teams taking part in the 24 team 1970 WC

    1970 1.png

    So until then, see you later!
     
    1970 FIFA World Cup Seeding and Group Stage
  • 1970 FIFA WORLD CUP
    Part 1

    With how well the expanded World Cup had been and with more opportunities for countries to qualify, it wasn't a surprise that the twenty-four team format would remain in place for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, though for the organisers, it would be a headache to get more venues needed for the finals. The seeded format was something of an odd one as it was designed not only to have the hosts and reigning champions in it, but also the runners-up, third and fourth place teams too. However with both Argentina and Portugal both failing to qualify [1] only England and Scotland would fill this position along with the hosts.

    There were some teams making a return such as Yugoslavia and Sweden who both failed to qualify for 1966 as such Paraguay for the first time since 1954 while Romania and Poland would be making a long awaited return to the World Cup for the first time since 1938 and such as Peru too since 1930 respectably [2]. There were a number of new teams making their debut such as Morocco, Nigeria, Israel and El Salvador though there would also be Greece being the only European team making their debut.

    In January 1970, the draw was made and while some were somewhat unsure if the seedings were correct, all of that was soon forgotten about when the draw was made and a number of fascinating draws came about. What made it more interesting was the fact that unlike the last World Cup which went into a second group stage, it would here be a qualification to a knockout stage of sixteen teams with the best ranked third place teams of four going through [3].

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    The seeding of the 1970 World Cup
    Mexico had been awarded to host the 1970 World Cup in 1964, the first time it would be hosted in North America, though this was before the sudden announcement that the tournament would be expanded and they would express disdain at FIFA that they didn't have the time to get stadiums ready in time which saw many smaller stadiums around the country being used as a quick and easy way to have stadiums ready though many felt if they had more money and time they could've done better. Such was this expansion problem that it would come to a head for the 1978 edition, but that's another story...

    Qualification so fourteen teams from Europe go through and four from South America, however it was a shock that Argentina failed to qualify with Paraguay, as the best ranked team in the group stages going through. The qualification process for OFC was a rather straight forward format in which Australia and New Zealand played in a two legged affair in which the winner, Australia, would qualify automatically while New Zealand still had a second chance to go through to face Israel in a play off [4] but sadly failed to do so.

    In Africa, Morocca would win the final group while Nigeria as the second place team, would play in a play off with the AFC second ranked team with South Korea. Unlike the last time, the play off went ahead and Nigeria would defeat the Asian team and would make their debut at the World Cup for the first time, though they and several others were going to get a rude awakening.

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    Final results of Group 1
    In a blaze of sunshine and a wonderful opening ceremony, the opening match would between Mexico and the Soviet Union though despite much hype, it would turn into something of an anti-climax with the game ending 0-0. Elsewhere, Belgium would spank El Salvador 3-0 in their opening match and the poor little Central American team would end up being the whipping boys of the group gain no goals and letting in nine goals to end up rock bottom of the group.

    Mexico had hoped to win the group and while they and the Soviet Union would end up on level points, it would be the Russians that would win the group thanks to scoring an extra goal in their game which may have disappointed the hosts but nonetheless they were still through and hoped that they may have landed themselves with an easy route to try and go all the way.

    However it would be Belgium that breathed the biggest sigh of relief as despite finishing in third place [5], they would go through as one of the best ranked third place teams at the 1970 World Cup and the format, despite being something of a confusing thing by some, would be nonetheless welcomed as another way to go through, though it would lead to some teams ending up colluding with others in order to try and get through...

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    Mexico and the USSR prior to the start of the opening match

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    Final results of Group 2

    While many had Italy down as favourites to win the group in which they did [6], the group would throw up some interesting results. Despite no one given them much thought to go through, Israel would put on a respectably performance in the group stage, most notably holding Italy and Sweden to draws. As a matter of fact, if it wasn't for Sweden scoring a last minute goal against Uruguay in their final group game, Israel had a very good chance to go through as one of the best ranked third place teams. In the end, it would be a sad 'what could have been' [7].

    Uruguay would go through as the best ranked second place team and this was indeed an improvement from the last World Cup in which they fell in the first round and with a mostly 'local' crowd backing them, there was a sense that a Latin American side would do well this time round with the heat and humidity being in their favour. The only question was who would it be?

    While Israel failing to get through right at the death, it did show that many of the so called 'weaker' nations were not there to just make up numbers but actually try and go all the way. Hopefully though there would be more teams outside of Europe and South America causing a shock on the World Stage.

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    Uruguay vs Israel in their opening match

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    Final results of Group 3
    Those hoping for shock results were to look no further than the third group which would raise many eyebrows. Though England were favourites, they had gotten a rough build up with the story of their captain, Bobby Moore being arrested briefly but later released other alleged stolen jewellery. To make matters worse some comments from the England manager Alf Ramsay saying much about his dissatisfaction about Mexico which didn't go down well among the local population and even though they were champions and ended up winning the group, they would end up being the pantomime villains [8].

    It would have the biggest shock in which Australia, the whipping boys of the last tournament, would end up shocking the world by going through despite many predicting they would fail. It is said that the hot climate may have made many of the European nations unsettled, it would however make the Australians right at home and they would embarrass Romania in their opening match in which they won the game thanks to a penalty, though this wasn't including the fact that they were on the backfoot most of the time. The match with England and Australia would be real interesting encounter as while England would get the better of the Socceroos, Australia did show much much they had improved from the last time they were seen at the World Cup.

    While Romania would be spared their blushes by going through as one of the best ranked third place teams, the same couldn't be said for Czechoslovakia as would end up with one lousy point and had a frustrating campaign in which they bemoaned that the conditions weren't what they wanted. To rub it in even more, they were pretty much forgotten about as everyone wanted to know about Australia and they would be the underdog everyone wanted to support.

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    England vs Romania in the their final group match

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    Final results of Group 4

    While at first glance, West Germany were looked upon as the favourites to win the group, the question was who would finish below them. They would go on an unbeaten run smashing all their group opponents and setting the scene ahead as to where may felt their chances would end up as they attempted to show that they meant business and the fact they seemed to have coped well with the conditions said a lot.

    Bulgaria would end up being the team to finish in second place despite their bad opening match with the hosts as thanks to two tight 2-1 victories over Paraguay and Morocco helped them just enough to go through and now they were looking at the interesting prospect of heading into the second stage of the World Cup for the first time in their history.

    For Paraguay and Morocco, it wouldn't be the best for them as after both ended up getting a draw in their opening match together, it would end up all going downhill from then and none of them would end up with a third place best finish after all that.

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    West Germany vs Morocco at the start of their match

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    Final results of Group 5
    Brazil went into this World Cup as pre-tournament favourites and for good reason. The Brazilians would end up spanking all their group opponents with ease without even conceding a goal and pretty much became everyone's favourite team to go all the way [9] though a cynic would point out that this might've been that with the expectation of Yugoslavia, the other two were making their debut and didn't have the experience.

    Speaking of Yugoslavia, they would end up taking the second place spot with victories over Greece and Nigeria though it was against Greece they nearly blew it as despite running into a 3-0 lead at half time, Greece came back with a vengeance and one has to ponder if Greece had pulled of a stunning comeback as in the end, Greece would frustratingly miss out on reaching the knockout stage thanks to their poor goal differences preventing them from being part of the best ranked third place teams.

    The less said for poor Nigeria the better. After doing so well but sadly losing to Greece in their opening match, It all got worse for them as heavy defeats to Yugoslavia and Brazil would see them finish rock bottom with no points or goals to their name. Things would get better for them but that would be another story...

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    Brazil celebrate after their big victory over Nigeria in their final group match

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    Final results of Group 6

    Group six would be perhaps the closet group at the 1970 World Cup with runners-up Scotland winning the group with a team that was said to be even better than the 1966 team [10]. However like with many teams from Europe, the hot climate did prove to be something of a challenge to them. Though they managed to beat Hungary by quite a close result, the game with Peru would be one of the classic games in which defence was pretty much forgotten about as the manic game ended in a 3-3 draw. Scotland would win the group ultimately thanks to a 4-1 victory over Poland in what was said to be one of their best results.

    Peru and Hungary would end up on level points and would end up going through together with Peru being the best third place team of all the teams with the goals they had managed to score though it was something strange considering the fact they had done it without getting a victory with all their games being draws. This would indeed lead to more concerns that the format was making easier for teams to avoid losing in order to better their chances to go through.

    Poland's long awaited return to the World Cup was something of a disappointment as a defeat to Hungary would in the end kill their chances to progress and would head home with a lot to think about. Still with the group stages done, there were many with baited breathes who waited to see who would progress and thus, twenty-four teams had been reduced to sixteen.

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    Scotland captain Billy Bremner after the 3-3 thriller with Peru

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    The best ranked third place teams at the 1970 World Cup


    -----------
    At last, here is the long awaited update and hope it is what you wanted. Anyway, here are some details to follow:

    [1] As in OTL.
    [2] As in OTL.
    [3] The same format as what would happen from 1986 Mexico, only difference is it happens a whole decade earlier.
    [4] Quite similar to OTL though the qualification process for both Australia and New Zealand was quite tricky looking back on hindsight with several groups to go through, here it's a little bit more easier.
    [5] The Group is pretty much the same as OTL, only difference is that Belgium go through.
    [6] As they would be...
    [7] The Group is pretty much the same as OTL with Sweden going through and thus a much more frustrating affair for Israel.
    [8] This all actually happened which caused much of the Mexican public rooting for the England team to fail.
    [9] What else were you expecting? ;)
    [10] It is said that the 1970 Scotland team was the peak Scottish team that failed to qualify for a tournament.

    Hope those are helpful and here are the fixtures for the knockout stage as follows...

    Soviet Union vs Romania

    Hungary vs Uruguay

    Brazil vs Bulgaria

    England vs Peru

    West Germany vs Sweden

    Mexico vs Australia

    Scotland vs Yugoslavia

    Italy vs Belgium

    So who do you think will win each of those games? Until then, please comment for more and hope you are enjoying it so far :)






     
    1970 FIFA World Cup Last 16
  • 1970 FIFA WORLD CUP
    Part 2


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    Live broadcast of the opening ceremony of the Knockout stage prior to Mexico vs Australia

    With a total of sixteen teams in the knockout stage, it was the first time this had happened since the 1938 World Cup and the first match would be with the hosts playing the plucky Australians in the Estadio Azeteca. Though the Mexicans were clear favourites to win, they would like several other teams underestimate the underdogs who actually gave the Mexicans a game there was one infamous moment in the 24th minute in which an Australian strike would hit the crossbar and had it only been a few inches shorter it might've gone in and changed the course of the game. The first half would end in a 0-0 stalemate and the many local supporters jeered and whistled their team off at such a lacklustre performance and some of the Australian players might've thought they had a chance to go through. Alas, the Mexicans would step up their game and ultimately win 3-0 but the Australians would go home with their heads held high at what was their best performance at a World Cup to date and now hoped to do even better for 1974.

    Later that day, the Italians would easily brush aside the Belgians with little fuss though this could be said that the Italians were more suited to the heat than the Belgians could ever be. All goals came in the first half and during the second half the Italians started show boating in front of curious Mexican locals.

    The following day saw an all eastern European affair with Romanian and the Soviet Union. Neither side really looked comfortable though it would be the Russians that would get the better of the Romanians though neither left much of an impression that they were going to go all the way in the Quarter-finals.

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    The Soviet Union team line up prior to their match with Romania

    The game with Sweden and West Germany would prove to be one of the most surprising and more tense affairs in which despite all odds, Sweden struck first in the first half and for large parts of the second half looked set to cause a big upset but the Germans would break through with a goal in the 78th minute to drag the game into extra time. That all being said, Sweden didn't give up and would take until the bitter end before West Germany struck home the winner that saw them go through and deny the Swedes of a famous victory. Despite the victory there were rumours of discontent in the German camp and combine that with how much the Swedes had exhausted them, they looked set for the taken.

    The day after that, England would take on Peru with the English looking to be the favourites to win. Despite some criticisms that this England team couldn't cope with pressure, they managed to answer their critics with a great performance to defeat Peru 3-0 and progress to the Quarter-finals in hope of defending the World Cup. Though few did think they could defend it...

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    Snapshot photo of the England team during the closing minutes of their game with Peru

    The 17th June was quite a day for British football to add as on the same day as England played Peru, Scotland would take on Yugoslavia in their match later on in the day. Scotland would play a ropey game in which they were stuck on the defensive for most of the game and looked no way they could win, let alone score. However from against the run of play, Scotland scored a goal in the second half and held on to create an upset and progress to the Quarter-finals. Could they be the dark horse of the tournament?

    The final day of round of sixteen games started with Brazil destroying Bulgaria 4-0. There was nothing wrong that Bulgaria did it was just the fact that they were up against this rampant Brazilian team and results like these were only adding to many people's thoughts that Brazil were the team that were going to go all the way.

    Later that day and the last game of the round with Uruguay and Hungary would be perhaps the most thrilling match. Hungary would score first via a penalty but Uruguay would come strong mostly in the second half to lead 3-1, however it would make it a nail biting finale once Hungary scored late on and at that point the South Americans would have to hang on to get the victory and progress.

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    The team of Uruguay line up for their game with Hungary
    Now there were eight teams left and now the real pressure started to kick in. The 1970 World Cup was proving to be an excellent tournament even with the addition of twenty four teams and even there were rumours of even expansion further to an eyewatering thirty-two teams. How many laughed at that crazy thought...

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    Final results of the Last 16 of the 1970 World Cup

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    Well, what'd you think of that then? :) Not much to say here other than what game would've you like to have seen here? Anyway, time for the fixtures for the Quarter finals as follows:
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    Mexico vs West Germany

    Scotland vs Italy

    Soviet Union vs Uruguay

    Brazil vs England

    ---------
    What are your thoughts on who will make it to the semi finals and I am thinking of few things of what happens in the future for this TL thought I need your help. Should I expand the teams to 32 by 1982 or keep as is until later on? Interesting butterfly effects having a bigger World Cup brings football to a bigger audience worldwide. Anyway until then, hoped you enjoyed this and stick around for the Quarter-finals. :)
     

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      1970 12.png
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    1970 FIFA World Cup Quarter-Finals
  • 1970 FIFA WORLD CUP
    Part 3


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    Some lucky fans in Mexico
    The Quarter finals would see some of the 1970 World Cup's most memorable games almost right from the start when perhaps one of the biggest shocks of the World Cup happened at the Estadio Azteca. Despite being the hosts, Mexico faced a West Germany who despite having played a gruelling game with Sweden were expected by many to sweep aside the Mexicans. That might've been the case when the Germans took the lead early on only for Mexico to come back at them some four minutes later and from then on it was really a end-to-end game. Thanks to a partisan crowd and the heat getting to the Germans, Mexico scored a second in the fifty ninth minute that would ultimately win the game and send a whole nation into a frenzy of being the first North American team to reach the last four since the United States did it in 1930 [1].

    Later on the same day, Italy would play Scotland though for those expecting any shocks were to be left disappointed. Scotland looked out of their depth thanks to the heat and humidity which in contrast suited the Italians very well as two goals from Riva in the second half would spell the end for Scotland's World Cup hopes and thus the Runners-up of the last World Cup were out.

    The first game of the next game was the one many had wanted to see; England vs Brazil. While some were disappointed that this wasn't the teams playing in the final as it was considered the best two at the World Cup. Nonetheless it was said that whoever won the match would surly win the World Cup and what followed was, despite not being a goal rush, a truly brilliant game that saw Brazilian flair meeting English grit and in the end, a single Brazilian goal would see the champions go out. Despite the disappointment in this for England, there was no shame in losing to a side like that and now surely the cup was Brazil's to lose [2].

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    (Left) During the game (Right) After the match in which Moore and Pele congratulate each other after Brazil reach the Semi final
    The final game of the Quarter-finals would be one of the more unlikely games in which little Uruguay went up against the mighty USSR in which the game was like a chess game and the match itself would go into extra time and it would Uruguay that would finally take down the Soviets with a goal three minutes before the end. However, the Soviets believed that during the Uruguay attack, a ball had crossed touchline and stopped playing while their opponents continued playing and scored [3]. Whatever the matter might've been, there were now four teams left with one from Europe and North America and two from South America...it was now starting to feel like a true World Cup.

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    Scoring the goal that would ultimately help Uruguay overcome the stubborn USSR

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    Final results of the Quarter-finals of the 1970 World Cup


    ---------
    A quick update I will say! Anyway here are some facts to talk about:

    [1] Indeed the United States were the first, and still as of 2020, the only team from North America to get to that stage in a World Cup. Here the Mexicans get here at long last.
    [2] Pretty the same game as OTL, only difference it's now the Quarter final
    [3] Ditto as above

    Anyway, here is now the last of the last four as follows:
    ---------
    Uruguay vs Brazil

    Mexico vs Italy
    ---------
    So who will reach the final and the 3rd place game. Really love hearing from you guys your predictions and should I put a vote on where future World Cups should be hosted? Minor spoil is that I already have plans for 1978 and 1986 in different places but like to hear from you all the same. Anyway stay tuned for the last four!
     
    1970 FIFA World Cup Semi-Finals
  • 1970 FIFA WORLD CUP
    Part 4

    The last four of the 1970 World Cup had quite an interesting set up happening on the same day with Uruguay and Brazil playing each other first with Italy and Mexico afterwards. In the first game would nearly pull off upset as plucky Uruguay managed to score first before Brazil got a goal back before the end of the first half. However the game would end up being played with both teams being quite level with each other. In the end, Brazil would end up getting the better of Uruguay to progress to the final and break the hearts of the underdog [1].

    While most were happy that Brazil had gone through as they were the favourites everyone wanted to see go all the way, one had to wonder if Uruguay had just a little bit more luck to cause an upset as what had been seen throughout this World Cup.

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    Brazil and Uruguay in action during their semi-final
    The second semi-final would go down as one of the greatest World Cup games ever as Italy took on the hosts in front of a partisan crowd who all felt that Mexico could upset the odds and make it to the final for the first time. It didn't look like that would happen as Italy would score in the 8th minute, though Mexico would keep out Italy from scoring again and then right at the death, Mexico would stun Italy by getting a goal right at the death to take the game into extra time and what would follow would be one of the maddest games ever. It would be an open game that in the end thanks to the home crowd would see Mexico shock the world by beating the much fancied Italians and progress to their first ever final to face off Brazil. Could the miracle happen? [2]

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    The Mexican team that reached their first final
    Something more amazing was that this would be the first time that a team outside of Europe and South America would play in a final and for those who felt that this expanded World Cup would open the door to more countries from around the world felt vindicated. However as a nation got ready to play in a historic final, there was still the fact that a third place game still had to be played. One had to hope that would be a great warm up for the epic finale.

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    Final results of the semi finals of the 1970 World Cup

    ---------
    There we are, bet you didn't quite expect one result. So yeah, Mexico go to the final as it did seem quite a fascinating idea. Anyway, some facts:

    [1] Pretty much the same semi final as OTL
    [2] The same 'game of the century' as OTL, though the victors are swapped round.

    So there we, the third place game will be Italy vs Uruguay while Brazil take on Mexico for the final, who do you think will win and do you want to see a 24 team 1974 World Cup? Hope to hear from you soon and stay tuned!
     
    1970 FIFA World Cup Third Place game and Final
  • 1970 FIFA WORLD CUP
    Part 5

    With the whole of Mexico all on a high as they prepared to play Brazil in the final, it was something of a annoyance to the likes of Italy and Uruguay who's third place match had nearly been forgotten about and one that would turn out to be one for Italy to forget about. After such a manic game with Mexico, Italy were looking an exhausted side that Uruguay could see was there for the taking and would did just that.

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    Italy vs Uruguay in the Third Place match
    Italy would be beaten 2-0 and it would be the first time a European side had not reached the top three, a consequence of the World Cup expansion. Uruguay would exit the World Cup with their heads held high and had achieved their best finish at the World Cup since they won it in 1950 and were greeted to a hero's welcome as they returned and looked forward for the following World Cup in West Germany. But alas, it was time for the game everyone wanted to see, the final.

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    Final result of the third place game of the 1970 World Cup
    The following day, the world was watching and while many had Brazil down to win the final, Mexico did had the home advantage and a partisan crowd that was willing to back them to the end. Not to the surprise of perhaps the rest of the world, Brazil struck first thanks to Pele though right before the end of the first half, Mexico found an equaliser thanks to Valdivia and sent the Azteca stadium to shake to it's foundations that they could perhaps pull this off and they went off at half time with the scores level.

    If that Mexican goal did surprise many, the next goal in the 49th minute would shock everyone and cause a roar that looked like it would cause the stadium to break it's foundations. However this Brazil side were not one to give up and they would respond with three goals that would ultimately break Mexican hearts and thus, Brazil would claim their third World Cup and were a team that everyone felt deserved their victory.

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    Brazil, World Cup Winners 1970
    In retrospect, many would regard the 1970 World Cup as the best and one had to wonder how the following tournament would live up to this. However there would be one small sad side effect of this tournament for the hosts and runners up as despite expecting to qualify, they would fail to do so and this would cause the country to react with horror as after coming so close would afterwards fall to far [1].

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    Final result of the 1970 World Cup final
    For the rest of the world, Brazil were the deserved winners though could they do well in 1974 and defend it? Little did anyone know that new teams would arise and would try and challenge them. Who could top this Brazil team?

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    Final results of the 1970 World Cup Knockout Stage

    ----------
    And there we are, 1970 done and dusted and perhaps a result you might've been expecting anyway, one thing to note:

    [1] This will be explained in the next update though if you check the qualification rounds you'll see why.

    So next is the teams for the 1974 World Cup:
    1974 1.png


    So who do you think will win the 1974 World Cup ITTL then? Hope you are enjoying this and will look forward to the next update, until next time catch you later!

     
    1974 FIFA World Cup Seeding and Group Stage
  • 1974 FIFA WORLD CUP
    Part 1

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    1974 would see the World Cup return to Europe and would also see the return of a few teams such as Argentina and Portugal, both of whom who had failed to qualify for the last World Cup. It would also see the debut of many new teams such as the Netherlands, Haiti, Zaire, East Germany and Iran just to name a few. However even before a ball was kicked there was the shock absence of Mexico, the previous hosts and runners up who in their qualification had finished third and just missed out on qualification [1]. Indeed if that wasn't bad enough, had Mexico made it to Germany, they would've been included as a seeded team due to new rules regarding the place of seeded teams.

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    The teams of 1974 prior to the draw was carried out
    While the previous two tournaments had just the hosts and reigning champions guaranteed a place among the seeds, it was decided that the top four who finished in those positions at the last World Cup would be placed among the seeded teams. It was a format that had a mixed response by many with the annoyance being that FIFA was consentingly changing it around, however as Mexico failing to qualify seemed to make this idea look rather pointless, Poland and England would fill the rest of the seeded teams.

    The draw itself would bring up a few head turning encounters with England and Argentina drawn together in what would be their first match together since the infamous 1966 semi-final [2]. but perhaps the biggest moment in the draw was the moment when it was discovered that East and West Germany would be drawn together which the crowd present would applaud of what was to be a historic moment in German football history.

    However what unlike other World Cup in which had the host nation play in the opening match, it was decided by FIFA that the reigning champions, in this case Brazil, would begin the tournament [3] and that their opponents would be a then unknown Dutch side who had never played at a World Cup since 1938. So thus would begin the 1974 World Cup...

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    Final results of Group 1
    On a warm yet wet day in West Berlin, a rather charming opening ceremony featuring the opening of footballs to represent a group of dancers from each country [4] the first match would begin with Brazil and the Netherlands. However the result would be not what many expected as the Dutch would show the world of what was starting to be known as 'total football'. The Dutch would go on to blow all their group opponents apart without conceding a goal and quickly became the favourite to go all the way.

    In contrast, Brazil spluttered their way through such as a dismal draw with Portugal and then finally a 3-0 victory over group whipping boys Zaire and were clearly a shadow of the brazil team that had amazed the world and the fact Pele had retired didn't help matters either as they were a team in transition. Portugal despite not thinking they had a chance would put up a decent show and would go through as one of the best third place ranked teams and may have even finished in second had they scored more goals [5].

    All in all, Group 1 would be an interesting affair that many didn't quite expect and many wonder if this Brazil would do any better in the knockout stage, and for Zaire, the less said the better...

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    Brazil vs Holland in the opening match, note both wearing their away kits for the match
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    Final results for Group 2

    Group 2 would see the hosts play their games, however it was the encounter of the two German teams in the final match that everyone wanted to see. That all said, West Germany would win their first two games before they would suffer a shock defeat to their eastern neighbours who in turn won the group [6]. In the group, there would be the return of Chile who made a World Cup return for the first time in eight years and would finish in third place and qualify as one of the best ranked third place teams.

    The group saw the debut of little Haiti but it would be a happy trip for them as they lost all their games finishing rock bottom without getting a goal and once again the question of the lesser teams diluting the quality of the World Cup. All in all, with East Germany's unexpected winning of the group, one had to wonder how far they could go and maybe be a dark horse.
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    The captains of the two German teams meet each other before the final group match

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    Final results of Group 3

    Group 3 would see the highly awaited meeting of England and Argentina for the first time since 1966 and it would prove to be more of battle than an actual game of football with England scoring first before Argentina got a goal back and the game became more about cut legs down. It would be a brutal draw and both sides came under criticism for their style of play and thankfully, both sides would then get victories in their next two group games.

    Bulgaria would have a poor World Cup while Iran managed to gain a point from their first ever World Cup game though thanks to a beating by England they couldn't go further. Argentina would win the group though it was only on goal difference and for a team that missed out on qualification, they had made quite an impressive return. Who was to say they could do better...?

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    England and Argentina during their opening match

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    1974 6.png

    Final results of Group 4

    Group 4 would see the best ranked third place team, Uruguay, face of the likes of Scotland, Australia and Austria. Uruguay would win the group [7] thanks to their better goal difference with Scotland coming in second. Australia would sneak through as one of the best ranked third place teams [8] and by this point thanks to constant qualification to the World Cup, Australian football had been improving over the years.

    In contrast Austria, who were making a return for the first time since 1954, would suffer a disastrous run of games which got off to the worst start thanks to defeat to Australia and with that they would fail to any points and finished bottom. Despite this, it would be quite a tight group and as such, no one really knew who would do better in the next round...

    1974-world-cup-finals-1st-rnd-zaire-v-scotland-the-scotland-team-line-bjp0t6.jpg

    The Scotland team before their final game with Austria

    ---------

    1974 7.png

    Final results of Group 5

    Group 5 was pretty the group how many expected would end up with Italy winning the group and Czechoslovakia coming in second, the latter being a far better improvement from their last two World Cup appearances. Though the group featured no new teams, it had the return of South Korea who were back for the first time since 1954, exactly 20 years ago in what was no exactly one to look back fondly on [9].

    However despite two defeats in their first two matches, the Koreans would gain a point in their last group game that was almost a victory had Yugoslavia not scored at the end to deny what would have been South Korea's first victory and may have been enough to see them go through as one of the best ranked third place teams. For many, Italy were one of the favourites but could they live up to expectation?

    52b66ee01b26ac2d7ddcf62fece09875.jpg

    The Italian teams of 1974

    ---------

    1974 8.png

    Final results of Group 6

    The final Group would be something that many called the less 'attractive' teams with many not having many star players and in the inclusion of a new comer in the form of Trinidad and Tobago. Poland though would end up being the winner of the group after pulling off some quite an impressive run by winning all their games to look like an unlikely side that could go all the way. Both Belgian and Romania would also go through while poor old Trinidad looked out of their element and never scored once.

    With that all done, the last 16 teams had made it to the knockout stage and once again many were looking forward to seeing which team would go all the way in the tense knockout phase...

    1974 9.png

    Final result of the best ranked third place teams

    --------
    And into 1974 we go! Hope you are liking what you are seeing with what team you support. Anyway, here are the notes to follow on:

    [1] This happened with Mexico finished in third place behind Trinidad on goal difference, here it is more painful how close they came to qualifying.
    [2] If you remember early on ITTL.
    [3] As in OTL.
    [4] Same opening ceremony as IOTL only with more nations here.
    [5] Pretty much the same set of results that Brazil found itself, only difference is them losing in the group stage here.
    [6] Same result as OTL.

    [7] In contrast in which they finished bottom IOTL.
    [8] Who actually finsihed bottom in OTL, however the team ITTL is improved thanks to play more World Cup football.
    [9] South Korea had a poor World Cup in 1954, not thanks to the war that had wrecked the country.

    So as with before, here is the last 16 set of fixtures...

    --------
    Netherlands vs Australia

    Belgium vs West Germany

    Italy vs Scotland

    Argentina vs Chile

    Uruguay vs Romania

    Brazil vs England

    Poland vs Czechoslovakia

    East Germany vs Portugal

    --------
    So, who do you think will go through to the Quarter finals? Until then, catch you later!
     
    1974 FIFA World Cup Last 16
  • 1974 FIFA WORLD CUP
    Part 2

    The Round of 16 in recent years had often prove to have a number of interesting encounters and this would be no different with perhaps the big eye opener being that of a rematch with England and Brazil as well as an all South American affair featuring Argentina and Chile. A new rule had been put in place for the this World Cup that once teams were still tied after extra time then the game would go into penalties [1] to decide the game. As the host nation prepared for the first match of the knockout stage, no one knew quite know what to expect...

    1974 11.png

    Final results of the Last 16
    West Germany's match with a plucky Belgium side would on paper look like a good victory for the Germans, however the host nation would find out that Belgium would constantly try and knock West Germany off their style of play and thanks to a rather lax Peruvian referee, a lot of tackles went on without getting booked. It would be a rather atrocious game in which the host nation would only get the winning goal some eight minutes before the end though coming with a consequence of West German Left back Paul Breitner getting injured and ruling him out for the rest of the tournament [2]. Would they cope?

    Later on that evening, Argentina would step their game as they ravaged poor old Chile didn't stand a chance with their only goal coming five minutes before the end which was nothing more than a consolation penalty kick. For Argentina, they were under pressure to make for their absence four years ago and after a performance like that they did look quite a team not to be messed with whoever would face them in the Quarter-finals.

    23061974-germany-1974-world-cup-finals-mario-kempes-argentina-on-the-dnf41h.jpg

    Argentina during the game with Chile
    The next day would for the two British teams to play in with the game everyone wanted to see being England vs Brazil but yet there was also the small matter of Scotland taking on Italy. By a stunning coincidence, both were the same teams that had knocked them out at the last World Cup in the Quarter finals [3]. The first to play was England and Brazil and it was the English who started well and had many chances in the first half to score goals...yet their failure to score would lead to their downfall in the second half. Brazil would come out in the second half looking more better than the lacklustre team that looked weak against England two quick fire goals would end up seeing England bow out and the end of Alf Ramsay's time as England manager [4]. Brazil looked as if they had finally found some form, but was it a false dawn?

    Later than day, things wouldn't be much better for Scotland as they would once again lose to the Italians. That all said it wasn't quite easy as many might think as it would be Scotland that would take the lead and led for most of the first half, only for Italy to equalise near the end of the first half. Even in the second half it would be rather a close game and it would only be a bad set of defensive play from Scotland that saw Italy score and dump the Scots out of the World Cup once again. All in all, not a good day for British supporters who had all rushed in from work to witness this [5].

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    Jordan during the game with Italy, note Scotland playing in their away all white kit
    The day after that would see a bloodbath in which a now powerful Dutch side would put the Socceroos at the sword in which the underdog proved to be weak against total football yet they won the hearts of local German supporters both for how they never gave up and in hopes they could put the boot in for their rivals. Nothing else had to be said other than the fact Australia were out yet again at this stage of the knockout stage while the Netherlands were heading to a place were no Dutch team had gone before, the last eight...

    Over in Berlin later that day, an all Warsaw Pact game took place with Poland and Czechoslovakia in which proved to be quite a tense game with no side willing to take any risks, though in the end it would prove to be Poland that would get the victory and the dark horse team that everyone was calling them were slowly making their way forward into the last eight and no knew just what this Polish team had in them...

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    Lato during the match with the Czechs
    The final day of the last sixteen saw a ropy Uruguay take on a unknown Romanian side which would be a violent encounter in which the Romanians would find themselves getting tackled by some brutal challenges from Uruguay that saw them carry this on thanks to a relaxed Turkish referee and all this rotten play would see Uruguay win the game and make it to the last eight. The Romanians though were left furious saying that they had been abused, kicked and spat upon by the South Americans. It was fair to say that Uruguay, with typical South American roughness, hadn't endeared themselves to the public [6].

    The final match of the last sixteen saw East Germany take on Portugal and in the end it would be straight forward victory for the Germans as they made it to the last eight for the first time and now people had to wonder just if there was going to be a rematch with the two German teams at this rate? For Portugal, it was far from a good World Cup and was nothing like how they amazed many in 1966 and a lot would have to be looked at to see if they could do better in 1978.

    hqdefault.jpg

    East German players line up before the game with Portugal
    When the games were finished, pretty much most of the teams many had predicated to go through had made it and now it was in the Quarter finals in which was were many of the 'big' sides would be tested and maybe a shock or too was possible. With the Cold War in the air and with a few teams from either side at this point, something was in the air that there might be an unlikely final at stake...

    ---------
    The last 16 is here and it seems to be results that most of you expected. Once again, some notes to point out:

    [1] This rule wasn't put in place in the 1978 WC, however it is put into action much earlier.
    [2] This will have butterflies in the next game...
    [3] Look back on TTL's 1970 WC
    [4] He left after England failed to qualify for the 1974 WC, here lasts just nearly a year later.
    [5] Fun side note in terms of British TV during that day ITTL, ITN (ITV to be better known) would broadcast the England game live while BBC would likewise do the same with the Scotland game. Neither supporter would be happy after both failed to go through!
    [6] For example, imagine the Uruguay/Scotland game in '86, only here Uruguay's dirty play actually see's them through.

    Now we move to the Quarter-final fixtures as follows:
    ---------

    Netherlands vs West Germany

    Italy vs Argentina

    Uruguay vs Brazil

    Poland vs East Germany

    ---------

    So...you know the drill, who will make it to the semi finals? Things won't exactly be the same with certain referees, players and all that. Hope you enjoyed this update and a question to ask you guys is do you want to see a 32 team World Cup for 1982? More teams to play with and butterfly effects for football in those countries...

    Until then, stay tuned!



     

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    1974 FIFA World Cup Quarter-Finals
  • 1974 FIFA WORLD CUP
    Part 3

    The last remaining eight teams left had brought up some mouth-watering fixtures which included a battle with the Dutch and Germans, Italy and Argentina going at it, Uruguay and Brazil in a rematch from the last tournament and finally an unlikely pair in the form of Poland and East Germany all battling it out for a place in the last four. They would however throw up a lot of surprise results but for some for all the wrong reasons...
    The first match of the Quarter-finals saw the hosts taking on the much fancied Netherlands, though there were some doubts among the Germans due to the fact that Paul Breitner was out injured and unable to play. It would turn out not to be the Dutch that was the main trouble, but rather, the Russian referee. From the get go, the Dutch were awarded a penalty which helped them take the lead. However the real controversy happened in the 25th minute in which Bernd Hölzenbein was fouled in the Dutch penalty box yet for some reason, the referee gave no call [1]. Despite this, the Germans would get a goal back before the break and hoped things would turn out better for them. Little did they know...

    There would be a number of chances for both sides to win the game yet the West Germans had a few penalty calls not going in their favour, only leading them for the team and the supporters to get more livid and what they felt was clear bias against them. More trouble came for them later on when Müller thought he had scored when he put the ball in the net, only to be denied by the linesman flagging him for offside [2] and all around the ground, many German supporters could be heard whistling and jeering in fury...then finally it all came to a head in the 75th minute when Cruyff scored a volley to help the Dutch retake the lead and in the end and the horror of the home supporters, the Germans had not only been beaten in their own backyard by their rivals, but what seemed to be clearly cheated out by a dodgy Soviet referee called Kasakov that many Germans felt had a strong anti-German bias due to the second World War and many nations felt sorry for the German's bad fate. Some consolation was given when FIFA stepped in and made sure Kasakov never refereed another World Cup match again and to this day, many German supporters still say 'Dieser verdammte russische Schiedsrichter!' ('That damn Russian referee!')

    For the Dutch, it did feel like they had won the final though there was still a long way to go. Despite the way they might've been 'helped' to make it to the last four, many were now pretty sure that the Netherlands were surely the team to beat now.

    25862-list.jpg

    Angry exchanges with the referee during the match
    As a host nation was weeping injustice, Italy and Argentina prepared to face off each other in what would be historic match as the first World Cup match to be settled on penalty kicks [3]. While Italy were slight favourites to win the game, Argentina were not a team to mess with and they would show this as they gained the lead in the 20th minute. However it would a blunder in the 35th minute when Argentina scored an own goal and this was what Italy needed to try and win the game yet despite all this, neither side get find a winning goal throughout the rest of the game [4] and thus, the game went to penalties.

    It is said that taking spot kicks is a horrible way to go out if you lose and it would be one such Italian, Anastasi, would be the only one to miss his spot kick and despite the rest of his team taking their kicks and scoring, Argentina would score all their penalties and would book their place in the last four for the first time since 1966 [5]. It was a day of shocks by all concern and most were wondering just what was going to happen the following day. Were more shocks to follow?

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    Italy vs Argentina in the Quarter-finals
    The following day saw an all South American affair with Brazil taking on Uruguay, the latter whom had played a dirty game with the Romanians and who was the team many wanted to see kicked out. It was in fact a rematch of the 1970 Semi-final in which Brazil came from behind to win [6]. What followed would be a fast and frantic game in which proved to be quite a unlikely game for goals being scored. At last for many at least it felt that the Brazilian magic that many thought about the South American giants, however Uruguay weren't going to simply roll over to let them win that easily.

    Brazil would score first, then Uruguay scored, Brazil scored again before half time, then during the second half, Uruguay scored to make the Brazilians sweat and there was feeling as time went on that another upset was on the cards. However just eleven minutes before the end, Brazil scored the final goal that would take them into last four and dump their fellow South Americans out of the World Cup.

    hqdefault.jpg

    Brazil and Uruguay during the match
    The final match of the Quarter finals was perhaps the one that had turned heads, Poland vs East Germany. Being two unknown sides, no one knew what to expect and yet what would happen in that game was a true thriller in which Poland scored early on and lead for large parts of the game looking like their unlikely run to the Semi-finals seemed to be reality, however East Germany would strike back with five minutes of regulated time to go and the game moved into a tense period of extra time.

    Despite East Germany throwing everything they had at Poland, it would be a Polish goal that would send them through to their first ever Semi-final and it was truly an amazing story, though much to Polish fans annoyance, they were being called as a triumph for the east...Poland only played for themselves and this was a way to express their identity. Could their miracle become a reality?

    Poland-1974-WC-FootyAnalyst.jpg

    An Artist's work showing the moment in which Poland scored the second goal in extra time
    When the dust (and controversy) was settled, four remained and somewhere in FIFA's offices in Switzerland, plans were now being seriously looked at to expand the World Cup for 1982 [7] as football had become more popular than it had ever been thought previously. Changes were ahead, though would a familiar name be carved on the trophy or would a new name find it's way on the cup? This World Cup was really up anyone to think about.

    1974 12.png

    Final results of the 1974 Quarter-finals

    ---------
    Well...bet you didn't see any of those results coming, however the butterfly effects of the World Cup in this world are taking effect you wouldn't believe in. Anyway I must I'm quite pleased at how well many have taken to this, even compared to 'All To Play For'. How do you feel about the POD as a good enough way to see the World Cup expanded earlier than OTL? I am surprised that despite being quite a known moment in football history that no one has done a TL regarding it. Anyway, some notes to follow as always:

    [1] A different referee leads to a whole different set of butterflies in place.
    [2] This happened in OTL, though probably has a more horrid effect here.
    [3] This wouldn't be seen until the 1982 World Cup IOTL.
    [4] Pretty much the same OTL group stage game, though it last a whole 120 minutes before spot kicks happen.
    [5] Look back on TTL.
    [6] Ditto.
    [7] Watch this space!


    Anyway, here is the last four as it stands:

    ---------
    Netherlands vs Argentina

    Brazil vs Poland
    ---------

    A very strange last four no doubt, so who do you think will go all the way now? Until then...see you soon!
     

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    1974 FIFA World Cup Semi-Finals
  • 1974 FIFA WORLD CUP
    Part 4

    The 4th July would see both semi finals played and it would be quite an unlikely last four in many regards. The first to play would be the Dutch and Argentina in which despite many thinking would be quite a close game would instead be a rout as the Netherlands brushed the South American side with ease. Within twenty five minutes the Dutch were 2-0 up and yet despite an Argentine goal coming a few minutes later, it would be a false dawn as throughout the second half, the Dutch battered Argentina to find a third goal and it would be a long time coming and in the end, Cruyff did just that [1].

    It would be stated that the Argentine team was so tried following that gruelling game with the Italians that they weren't at their best and things could've been different had the game not gone to penalties. For the Dutch, their amazing run was now on the verge of winning the biggest prize in world football and across the Netherlands, the country was gripped by football fever like no one would believe it. The only question now was who would be their opponent?

    holanda-v-argentina-copa-mundial-de-futbol-1974-bhx0hw.jpg

    Argentina attempt a free kick during the semi final
    Later that evening came perhaps the most unlikely meet up...Brazil vs Poland. Though the South American giants were red hot favourites to join the Dutch in the final in what set to be a rematch following that shock loss to them [2], Poland were such an unknown team that could go either way. What followed would be one of the most enjoyable games in which the Poles were clearly the underdog as Brazil would attack the Poles' goal yet Poland would not let Brazil get a goal in the first half.

    The second half was when the pressure started to rise for Brazil and Poland started to get a footing in the game with many feeling that an upset was on the cards...and came it did. In the 75th minute, Poland would score the only goal of the game that would stun Brazil and the world that would surely help them move onwards to the final though Brazil would give up as they tried and ultimately failed to get back as against all odds, Poland had made it to their first final and Brazil were heartbroken at losing the cup [3].

    world-cup-1974-3rd-place-play-off-poland-1-brazil-0-grzegorz-lato-BHX0P6.jpg

    The moment Lato scored for Poland to give them the shock victory in the Semi-final
    Once that game had finished, the 1974 final would be a match up between two teams who had never been in final before while Argentina and Brazil would carry on their rivalry and play for pride in a third-place game. For many, Holland and Poland had been the talk of the tournament and to have them playing in the final seemed to be almost a dream, amazing really.

    It was unknown just how many Polish supporters, if any, could be allowed to travel across the iron curtain to cheer the team on, though what was most certain was the Dutch were going to swarm across West Germany and cheer on their team in which winning it in their arch rival's backyard would be nothing short a dream. In the end, many wonder who would win; the Netherland's brand of total football or Poland's dark horses? Everyone would find out in a few short days.

    1974 13.png

    Final results of the 1974 Semi-finals

    ---------
    [1] The game is pretty much the same Dutch vs Argentine like in OTL, though it goes slightly better for Argentina who at least get a goal here.
    [2] Remember TTL's first group game with the two.
    [3] The game goes pretty much like OTL's third place game, only it's a Semi-final here.

    Here we are then, we are getting near the end of 1974 and what do you think will happen now with who will win what. Hope you enjoyed this update and stay tuned the final part of 1974 and a preview of the teams at 1978 with who will be the hosts as a consequence of a bigger world cup. Until then, catch you later!
     
    1974 FIFA World Cup Third-Place game and Final
  • 1974 FIFA WORLD CUP
    Part 5

    Before the anticipated final between Holland and Poland could take place, there was the small matter of a third place game between Argentina and Brazil. Even thought it was a game that perhaps did nothing to help ease the pain on missing out on the final, there was always something bound to happen whenever these two South American giants came together to play each other.

    Brazil would score first before Argentina would strike back a few minutes later to end the first half 1-1. However despite some good work from Argentina, it would be Brazil that would score the winning goal just a few minutes later after the second half begun and in the end, Brazil would win the third place match [1] and even despite the win, it was possibly not going to help the feeling after they lost their grip on the world cup.

    paulo-cesar-on-the-ball-for-brazil-during-the-fifa-world-cup-match-picture-id902668302

    Argentina vs Brazil, note Brazil wearing their away kit
    For Argentina, as much as they might've been disappointed to finish as the fourth place team yet again like in 1966 [2], however considering they had missed out on the last world cup then it could be argued that it was not a bad return for them and there was great excitement as they prepared to host the 1978 World Cup, little did they know how things weren't going to go exactly to plan even before a ball had been kicked in that tournament...[3]

    1974 14.png

    Final result of the Third-Place game

    The day later would come the final in what were perhaps two of the most unlikely teams taking place; Poland and the Netherlands. There were some strange stuff behind the scenes prior to the final as the plan was to have the final played in Munich, however a few eyebrows were raised when it was found out the final would be held in West Berlin [4]. It was stated that this requested by the Polish football association in the hope that this help have their supporters make the rare and one off journey to travel beyond the iron curtain. It was accepted on the condition as a one off and much security hoops had to be passed.

    One thing was certain was that the Dutch would swarm West Berlin with their supporters and would outnumber their Polish counterparts three to one and they hoped that this would be the game in which they would win the world cup. With such a big support behind them, this would help take of a Poland team who despite putting a good throughout would in the end fall apart against the Dutch.

    hqdefault.jpg

    Poland vs Netherlands during the final
    Those expecting a shock result or a goal thriller were to be left somewhat disappointed as the Dutch would score two goals without reply and the favourites would become the newest team to get their hands on the cup and the joy of winning the World Cup in their arch rivals' backyard was something that many Dutch supporters would never forget and it was said that across the Netherlands after the victory that the country celebrated for a whole week and those players would awarded by royalty by the end of it.

    De8IPR0WAAIxOIR.jpg

    Netherlands, 1974 World Cup Winners

    The Poles who despite losing the final would though feel proud of their efforts of doing far better than what anyone expected they would do and there was the hope that with that experience that they could do one better next year though there were a few who lamented that this was likely just a one-off. With that though, the 1974 World Cup had come to an end plus came the news that 1982 would see that edition of the World Cup expanded to 32 teams which would draw a mixed response. For now, all eyes turned to South America though perhaps not on the place they expected...

    1974 15.png

    Final result of the 1974 final

    1974 10.png

    Final results of the Knockout stage of the 1974 World Cup

    ---------
    [1] The game is pretty much like OTL encounter with the two.
    [2] Look back earlier on TTL.
    [3] Find out next time...!
    [4] The OTL final took place in Munich.

    So there we are, the Dutch finally get their hands on the cup! You probably already thought of that but here it is nonetheless and I hope any Dutch folk reading this will be smiling. Anyway we now move onto 1978 and here are the teams below:


    1978 1.png

    You'll see that Brazil are hosting it and not Argentina, but why? Find out next time and before I go, what has been your favourite WC so far ITTL for whatever reason and maybe what one are you looking forward to? Until then, catch you later in Brazil!
     
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    1978 FIFA World Cup Seeding and Group Stage
  • 1978 FIFA WORLD CUP
    Part 1

    Brasil 78.png

    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].

    venues.jpg

    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.

    1978 2.png

    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...

    ---------

    soccer-world-cup-argentina-1978-group-3-austria-v-brazil-g9bmej.jpg

    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?

    1978 3.png

    Final results of Group 1 of the 1978 World Cup

    brandts+1978+italy.JPG

    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...

    1978 4.png

    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:

    ---------

    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

    ---------

    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!
     
    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!



     
    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...

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    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?

    ---------
    • [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
    ---------
    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!
     
    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:

    1982 1.png


    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...;)
     
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