Thursday 8th July 1982

SEMI-FINAL, Estadio Nou Camp, Barcelona. (17:15)

ITALY   (1)   2   (Rossi 22, 72)

POLAND   (0)  

Italy: Zoff; Bergomi, Scirea, Collovati, Cabrini; Tardelli, Oriali, Antognoni; Conti, Rossi, Graziani

Poland: Mlynarczyk; Dziuba, Janas, Zmuda, Kupcewicz; Matysik, Majewski, Buncol, Ciolek (Palasz); Lato, Smolarek (Kusto)

A repeat of the meeting from Day Two between these two sides and everyone hoped for better than the boring goalless draw they played out in Vigo. Much had happened since then with both sides finally finding their form. At the start of the Second Phase few would’ve put money on these two getting this far but then both countries had finished in the last four in recent tournaments, with Italy finishing fourth in 1978 and Poland finishing third in 1974. Poland were without their talisman, Boniek, whose hat-trick against Belgium in the Second Phase had proved enough to see them reach this stage. He had picked up a second yellow card in the game against USSR and was suspended for the Semi-Final. This was a shame, not only as he was one of the best players in Europe, but he was due to join Juventus after the tournament. He would’ve been up against Zoff, Cabrini, Gentile, Scirea, Tardelli and Rossi. All of whom played for Juve.

After Graziani blasted a shot over, Italy had a free-kick wide on the right. Antognoni floated it into the area and everyone missed it, except Paolo Rossi. He was free in the six-yard box and got a touch on it, firm enough to beat Mlynarczyk. After an abysmal tournament Rossi now had four goals in his last two matches. Poland came back at the Italians but could only fire in shots from outside the box. After Italy responded with long-range shots of their own, Kupcewicz hit the post from a free-kick. In the second half Poland continued to try and find a way through but the Italians weren’t budging. Then with less than twenty minutes to go the Italians went on the attack and Conti’s run down the left saw him chip the ball to the far post. There was Rossi, who else, to head the ball in for this second goal of the game. The Poles were finally broken and another World Cup Final appearance had eluded them. For Italy, it had been a remarkable turnaround but in tournament football they showed it is more important to win the games that matter than worry about those that don’t.

SEMI-FINAL, Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan, Seville. (21:00)

WEST GERMANY   (1)   (1)   3   (Littbarski 17, Rummenigge 102, Fischer 108)

FRANCE   (1)   (1)   3   (Platini 26, Tresor 92, Giresse 98)

West Germany: Schumacher; Kaltz, K-H. Forster, B. Forster, Stielike, Briegel (Rummenigge); Littbarski, Dremmler, Breitner, Magath (Hrubesch); Fischer

France: Ettori; Amoros, Janvion, Tresor, Bossis; Genghini (Battiston)(Lopez), Platini, Tigana, Giresse; Rocheteau, Six

Germany won 5-4 on penalties

Goal – Giresse (France) 0-1

Goal – Kaltz (West Germany) 1-1

Goal – Amoros (France) 1-2

Goal – Breitner (West Germany) 2-2

Goal – Rocheteau (France) 2-3

Miss – Stielike (West Germany) 2-3

Miss – Six (France) 2-3

Goal – Littbarski (West Germany) 3-3

Goal – Platini (France) 3-4

Goal – Rummenigge (West Germany) 4-4

Miss – Bossis (France) 4-4

Goal – Hrubesch (West Germany) 5-4

There had been some memorable games in this World Cup but this one was the one many would talk about for years. To coin the phrase “it had everything”. Both countries had lost their opening match in the competition but this was a World Cup for marathons not sprints. The Germans struck first after Breitner drove forward and put Fischer through but Ettori blocked the shot, only to find the loose ball fall to Littbarski who fired in for the opening goal. Within ten minutes the French were level after Platini headed down Giresse’s free-kick to Rocheteau but he was being held back by Bernd Forster and the ref pointed to the spot. Platini tucked the ball into the right-hand corner of the net with Schumacher diving to the opposite corner. The other good chance of the first half saw Platini fire just wide after a good counter-attack.

On the hour came one of the most infamous moments in World Cup history. Platini played a great ball from the halfway line to find Battiston running from deep. Just on the edge of the area Battiston hit it first time but put his shot just wide. Suddenly he was clattered to the ground by Schumacher who’d come charging out of his area. There was little doubt the German keeper had jumped into the Frenchman and he hit him so hard he was out cold. Eventually he was stretchered off, which was a real pity as he’d only been on the pitch for ten minutes. It was a sickening moment which held the game up for quite a while, and unbelievably Schumacher didn’t even receive a booking for his assault. What made it worse was he could be seen standing impatiently waiting to take the goal-kick as Battiston received attention. Afterwards it emerged that Battiston had lost two teeth, suffered three broken ribs and also had a damaged vertebrae from which he still suffers from today. The French recovered and almost won it in normal time when Amoros hit a fierce strike from the inside left position which thundered against the bar and bounced to safety. The game was still level after ninety minutes and so extra time was required.

Two minutes into the extra half-hour and France had a free-kick on the right wing. Giresse floated it into the area and found Marius Tresor free on the penalty area and he volleyed the ball past Schumacher. The French poured forward and went further ahead when Giresse fired a low shot from the edge of the area which hit the inside of the post and went in. France now lead 3-1 and after Schumacher’s thuggery this pleased every non-German watching. Giresse, one of the players of the tournament, had had another wonderful game and it seemed fitting he should score a crucial goal.  But you write off the Germans at your peril and they threw on Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who was only fit enough for the bench. Within five minutes the German captain had got them back into as he turned in Littbarski’s cross at the near post. Then early in the second period of extra time another cross from the left by Littbarski, found Hrubesch at the far post and his knockdown was spectacularly turned in by Fischer with his back to goal and we were back level again. The two sides couldn’t be separated and so for the first time in World Cup history we had a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

The first five spot-kicks were all dispatched calmly with the keeper going the wrong way and France lead 3-2. Then Uli Stielike, who played his football in Spain with Real Madrid, hit his shot straight down the middle and this time Ettori didn’t move and saved easily. But instead of taking advantage, the French fluffed their lines too as Didier Six saw his kick saved by Schumacher. Littbarski then stepped up for Germany and tucked it into the top right-hand corner to level to shootout at 3-3. The two captains then successfully converted their kicks to leave the shootout at 4-4 after five kicks each. The first sudden-death kick was taken by Maxime Bossis and his shot was saved by Schumacher. Already a villain of the peace earlier in the game, Schumacher moved early on the kick but was allowed to get away with it and Germany now had the advantage. It fell to Horst Hrubesch and he slotted his home and West Germany won and had reached their third World Cup Final out of the last five. For France they were devastated although there’s little doubt they had emerged as a force to be reckoned with.

So there we were. An Italy v West Germany Final. Many still looked back at their classic from the 1970 Semi-Final. Would we have a repeat of that? Would it be cagey? Defensive? Would the Italians have the advantage as the Germans had a much harder Semi-Final? Would Rummenigge be fit? Would Rossi score again?

After Brazil was knocked out, many neutrals moved to support France as they had been the next best attractive side to watch. But now who do you follow for the final?