Back across the Atlantic to the Americas. This time, North America for the first time as Mexico hosted the 1970 World Cup. There was a sense of things returning to normal (for Brazil) as they won their 3rd world cup in four tournaments. It is often said too that the 1970 tournament is the best ever in the sense of the number of exciting matches and the pure, beautiful football played by Brazil. It was Pele's last chance to shine too. After exploding onto the scene in 1958, he was kicked off the park in 1962 and Brazil were awful in 1966.
As usual there were 16 teams, again from 5 confederations with Morocco representing Africa for the first time. Again, 4 groups of 4 would give us the 8 quarter finalists. Emerging from group 1 we saw hosts Mexico and the Soviet Union. Group 2, the group of dearth, gave us just 6 goals and saw Italy and Uruguay qualify at the expense of Sweden and Israel.
Group 3 was the group of plenty as Brazil and England emerged as the top two teams. Brazil won all of their games 4-1 versus Czechoslovakia, 3-2 versus Romania and famously 1-0 versus England in the match when Gordon Banks made THAT save from Pele's header. England won their 2 other games by 1-0. Group 4 gave us West Germany and Peru.
In the quarter finals, Italy found their scoring boots to see off the hosts 4-1. Brazil defeated Peru 4-2 and Uruguay edged a 1-0 win over the Soviets. In the game of the tournament so far, West Germany came from 2 down to relieve England of their crown, thus gaining some measure of revenge for the final of four years earlier. It is interesting to note that in common with a few of the group matches, kick off for all of the quarter finals was at 12 noon - in the hottest part of the day.
Moving into the semi finals, we were guaranteed a South America versus Europe final as Brazil played Uruguay and West Germany took on Italy. In the end Brazil qualified easily enough with a 3-1 win, although Uruguay did score first, but the European semi final was an epic. Perhaps fatigued after their victory over the English, the West Germans were finally beaten by 4-3 after extra time.
And so it came to pass, Brazil would play Italy for the chance to take a third world cup victory. Whichever team won, they would keep the Jules Rimet Trophy as the first team to achieve the feat of three world cup wins. In the end, it was relatively easy for Brazil as they ran out 4-1 winners in front of over one hundred and seven thousand fans in the Aztec Stadium in Mexico City. Like the West Germans before them, Italy can legitimately point to tired legs after a long, drawn out battle only 3 days previous but nevertheless, it's probably true that the best team won.
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