PORTO SEGURO, Brazil — Diego Maradona was reportedly so struck by stage fright that he called for his mother’s help as Argentina players sat in silence in their changing room before the 1986 World Cup final against West Germany.
But it was Maradona who provided the moment of brilliance that decided the game and gave Argentina its second title before 114,800 fans at the Azteca stadium in Mexico City. Four years later, Maradona was in tears as the Germans lifted the title in Rome’s Olympic stadium.
Argentina and Germany have a long and emotional World Cup rivalry involving some of the best players to grace the game. When they face each other again on Sunday in Rio De Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium, it will be the third World Cup final between the teams — something no other two nations have accomplished.
The 1986 and 1990 finals are still two of the most talked about games in football history.
In 1986, Maradona was at the summit of his career and scored all four of Argentina’s goals in the quarterfinals and semifinals — including the “hand of God” against England. Franz Beckenbauer was in charge of Germany in his first major tournament as coach.
Germany’s camp was in disarray, and goalkeeper Uli Stein was sent home for insulting Beckenbauer. Journalists shared a hotel with the players and their nightly escapades became tabloid lore.
But the Germans plodded on and beat France 2-0 in the semifinals, even though the Michel Platini-led French team had been widely expected to face Argentina in the final.
And so, in the noon-time heat of the awe-inspiring Azteca, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Maradona led their sides out. The Germany captain was playing injured throughout the tournament and had not scored.
Jose Luis Brown’s header and Jorge Valdano’s goal on a counterattack gave Argentina a 2-0 lead and Maradona’s team appeared to be cruising. Then the Germans struck back.