DAY TWENTY-ONE

Saturday 10th July 1982

THIRD PLACE PLAY-OFF, Estadio Jose Rico Perez, Alicante. (20:00)

FRANCE   (1)   2   (Girard 13, Couriol 73)

POLAND   (2)   3   (Szarmach 41, Majewski 44, Kupcewicz 46)

France: Castenada; Amoros, Janvion (Lopez), Tresor, Mahut; Tigana (Six), Girard, Larios; Bellone, Couriol, Soler

Poland: Mlynarczyk; Dziuba, Janas, Zmuda, Kupcewicz; Matysik (Wojcicki), Majewski, Buncol, Boniek; Lato, Smolarek

The two losing Semi-Finalists met in Alicante in the game nobody wants to play. Poland won this corresponding match eight years earlier. A Grzegorz Lato goal gave them a 1-0 win over Brazil. France had reached the last four for the first time since 1958, when they beat West Germany in a terrific match, 6-3. For the watching spectators they had the mixed fortunes of seeing Boniek return to the Polish line-up. But Platini sat this one out for the French. The two were about to sign for Juventus and join many of the players who would compete in the Final the next day.

Just two days after their epic encounter against West Germany this time, France took the lead when Girard hit a shot from twenty-five yards out and put them 1-0 up. The French had been the more dominant in the early stages, firing several long-range efforts on Mlynarczyk’s goal.

As the interval approached Poland came more into it, especially Boniek. Then with four minutes of the half to go, Boniek chipped a ball over the defence for Szarmach on the left-hand side of the area and his left-foot shot hit the far post and went in for the equaliser. Then with virtually the last chance of the half, Poland had a corner on the left. French keeper, Castenada missed completely and Majewski headed into the empty net. From dominating proceedings the French now went into the break 1-2 down.

Worse was to come just after the break as Poland had a free-kick down on the left wing. As Castenada guarded the far post, Kupcewicz saw his opportunity and cleverly clipped his shot inside the near post to put the Poles 3-1 up. The French created more chances as they tried to get back into the game and got their reward from Tigana played in Couriol and the Monaco striker nicked the ball past Mlynarczyk to reduce the arrears. In the end Poland were the winners, finishing in third place with the French having to settle for fourth.

So Poland could be proud of their World Cup performance. Only lost one game, the Semi-Final. Two third places from the past three World Cups was a pretty good return.

France ended the tournament as they began it, with a defeat. But they had played some sumptuous football in between. With the next European Championships being in France, few would bet against them emerging victorious then.

There was just one more match to go. The Final