XV World Cup Tournament
In 1994, the World Cup was held outside of Europe or South America for the first time in history. Hosting the World Cup was partially intended as a marketing move for the future birth of Major League Soccer.
Top player: Romario
Top goalscorer: 6 Goals – Hristo Stoichkov and Oleg Salenko
Top manager: Carlos Alberto Parreira
|18.6.1994||USA||Switzerland||1 – 1|
|Romania||Colombia||3 – 1|
|22.6.1994||Switzerland||Romania||4 – 1|
|USA||Colombia||2 – 1|
|26.6.1994||Romania||USA||1 – 0|
|Colombia||Switzerland||2 – 0|
Romania finished on top of Group A led by the gifted playmaker George Hagi. USA managed to advance under the wing of Serbian coach Bora Milutinovic. Four years earlier, Milutinovic had taken Costa Rica to their very first World Cup appearance. The United States earned a spot for the second round by defeating Colombia, who committed a silly own goal which earned the Americans a 2-1 victory. Andres Escobar, the Columbian player responsible for the own goal was tragically shot, soon after returning to his homeland.
|19.6.1994||Cameroon||Sweden||2 – 2|
|20.6.1994||Brazil||Russia||2 – 0|
|24.6.1994||Brazil||Cameroon||3 – 0|
|Sweden||Russia||3 – 1|
|28.6.1994||Russia||Cameroon||6 – 1|
|Brazil||Sweden||1 – 1|
Brazil and Sweden shared the top two spots in Group B. The Brazilians played efficiently and with less flair than in previous cups. Brazil’s striker Romario received a lot of attention with his dazzling skills. Cameroon, the sensation of World Cup 1990, failed to impress this time around and finished with a disastrous 6-1 loss against Russia.
|17.6.1994||Germany||Bolivia||1 – 0|
|Spain||South Korea||2 – 2|
|21.6.1994||Germany||Spain||1 – 1|
|23.6.1994||Bolivia||South Korea||0 – 0|
|27.6.1994||Spain||Bolivia||3 – 1|
|Germany||South Korea||3 – 2|
The defending World Champion, Germany finished first in Group C. Spain followed the Germans with 5 points.
|21.6.1994||Argentina||Greece||4 – 0|
|Nigeria||Bulgaria||3 – 0|
|25.6.1994||Argentina||Nigeria||2 – 1|
|Bulgaria||Greece||4 – 0|
|30.6.1994||Nigeria||Greece||2 – 0|
|Bulgaria||Argentina||2 – 0|
In Group D, Argentina was looking to extend its success from the previous two World Cups. Unfortunately, the star of the team Diego Maradona was suspended after Argentina’s victory over Nigeria after failing a drug test. Bulgaria managed to advance thanks to the sensational work rate of Stoichkov and Balakov.
|18.6.1994||Ireland||Italy||1 – 0|
|19.6.1994||Norway||Mexico||1 – 0|
|23.6.1994||Italy||Norway||1 – 0|
|24.6.1994||Mexico||Ireland||2 – 1|
|28.6.1994||Ireland||Norway||0 – 0|
|Italy||Mexico||1 – 1|
Group E, was most even in term of points. This is not surprising, considering that it was originally designated as the “Group of Death”.
|19.6.1994||Belgium||Morocco||1 – 0|
|20.6.1994||Holland||Saudi Arabia||2 – 1|
|25.6.1994||Saudi Arabia||Morocco||2 – 1|
|Belgium||Holland||1 – 0|
|29.6.1994||Holland||Morocco||2 – 1|
|Saudi Arabia||Belgium||1 – 0|
Saudi Arabia was certainly the most surprising team in Group F, scoring their first goal in the country’s World Cup history. Holland advanced with Bergkamp and Overmars who produced quite a few moments of excitement.
|2.7.1994||Germany||Belgium||3 – 2|
|Spain||Switzerland||3 – 0|
|3.7.1994||Sweden||Saudi Arabia||3 – 1|
|Romania||Argentina||3 – 2|
|4.7.1994||Holland||Ireland||2 – 0|
|Brazil||USA||1 – 0|
|5.7.1994||Italy||Nigeria||2 – 1|
|Bulgaria||Mexico||1 – 1 (3-1)|
One of the more notable matches in the second round was Argentina’s elimination by Romania. Maradona’s suspension was detrimental in the Argentine squad while the Romanians played on top of their game. Brazil defeated the US with a narrow 1-0 victory. American goalkeeper Tony Meola performed spectacularly. Sweden put an end to Saudi Arabia’s run while Spain defeated Switzerland with a classic 3-0 victory. Germany continued their march over Belgium (3-2) who complained of an overlooked penalty. Jurgen Klinsmann solidified himself as the top attacker in the German team, scoring his fifth goal of the tournament. Bulgaria also managed to earn a place in the quarterfinals after a victory over Mexico. The match finished in a 1-1 draw, but the Bulgarians prevailed during the penalty shootout.
|9.7.1994||Italy||Spain||2 – 1|
|Brazil||Holland||3 – 2|
|10.7.1994||Bulgaria||Germany||2 – 1|
|Sweden||Romania||2 – 2 (5-4)|
Conversely to the previous round, the quarterfinals produced far more exciting football. Former World Cup champion Germany was eliminated by Bulgaria who up to this tournament had never won a World Cup match. Letchkov scored a fantastic header earning the 2-1 victory for Bulgaria. In another dramatic clash, Brazil defeated Holland. Resolution came late in the match from a 35-metre free kick that Branco converted for the final score of 3-2. Italy overcame Spain thanks to Roberto Baggio’s decisive goalscoring. Suspicious refereeing might have also favored Italy in the match. Romania and Sweden produced another thriller, which was eventually decided by a penalty shootout.
|13.7.1994||Italy||Bulgaria||2 – 1|
|Brazil||Sweden||1 – 0|
When Italy and Bulgaria met, it was a clash of two very different teams. Hristo Stoichkov of Bulgaria was leading a relatively fresh squad whereas Roberto Baggio was backed by number of street smart veterans. With Baresi and Maldini at the back, the Italians easily enforced their tempo. After two early goals by Baggio, Italy played the rest of the match cautiously for the final score of 2-1. Brazil eliminated Sweden opponents thanks to defensive work. Romario showed his stuff by scoring the lone goal in the match.
Third place match
|16.7.1994||Sweden||Bulgaria||4 – 0|
The third place match did not exist in other soccer tournaments at the time. Sweden, deservedly won, scoring four goals over Bulgaria.
|Brazil – Italy||0 – 2 (3 – 2)|
|Venue||Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Los Angeles|
|Referee||Sandor Puhl (Hungary)|
Jorginho (21′ Out)
Zinho (109′ Out)
Cafu (21′ In)
Mussi (34′ Out)
D.Baggio (101′ Out)
Apolloni (34′ In)
The 1994 World Cup final was probably the least exciting game of the tournament. On one side was Brazil with Parreira and Mario Zagalo who insisted that their team plays defensively, and on the other was Italy, a team that is traditionally known for closing down its opposition. The match provided little excitement for the fans and the game eventually came down to a penalty shootout. Ironically, Roberto Baggio, the player who carried Italy to the final missed the decisive penalty costing his nation a World Cup title. He will forever be remembered by the fans as “the guy who missed a penalty” rather than for his talent and skill.