For people of a certain age, the 1970 World Cup in Mexico is perhaps the most vividly remembered.
It had pretty much everything -- Bobby Moore's arrest, Gordon Banks' extraordinary save and subsequent food poisoning that cost England their quarterfinal, perhaps the single most thrilling knock-out game ever between West Germany and Italy, probably the greatest team we've ever seen in the Brazilians and, on top of it all, colour television coverage of all the games for the first time.
Brazil were the absolute favourites in the tournament, even before it began. They had scored 23 goals in their qualifying campaign in six matches. Tosato had got ten of them and had struck up a rich partnership with Pele, who himself bagged six. Carlos Alberto, Gerson and Jairzinho were coming into their prime and Clodoaldo provided the base at midfield while Rivelino was another exciting talent.
Elsewhere, West Germany had Gerd Muller in their books but scraped through 3-2 against Scotland. Italy, the European Champions looked strong in qualifying with Luigi Riva scoring seven goals. Argentina though, were eliminated by Peru.
The first great clash of the tournament came when Brazil and England met at the group stage, with Brazil narrowly getting the better of Bobby Moore's team by a goal to nil.
The quarterfinals threw up four European teams and four Latin American teams, with one of the most intriguing matches being England versus West Germany, a repeat of the 1966 final. With only half an hour to play, England had a two-goal lead and looked to be coasting into the semifinals, but West Germany fought back from the dead to sneak a 3-2 win in extra-time. Meanwhile, in the South American 'local tie', Brazil overcame Peru's spirited challenge 4-2.
In the semifinals, Italy and Germany played arguably one of the best matches of the century. A 1-1 deadlock at normal time gave way to a goal feast in extra-time as the ball went into the net five times, with Italy getting the last word to win an epic encounter 4-3.
Brazil, meanwhile, wiped clean memories of their defeat to Uruguay at the 1950 World Cup final by putting three goals past their South American rivals after shipping a goal early on and arrived in the final at the summit of their art.
The Italians were simply overwhelmed as Tostao, Gerson, Pele, Jairzinho, Rivelino and the rest gave the sporting world a lesson in football. It was 1-1 at one point as Italy's Boninsegna equalised Pele's early strike, but Jarzinho had been kept at bay by the brilliant Fachetti for most of the game but this time his probing paid off albeit with more than a little slice of luck. Fachetti took the ball off Jairzinho but it rolled to Gerson who stepped away from a challenge and scored with a crisp cross-shot. Within minutes Gerson's deep cross was headed across goal by Pele for Jairzinho to bundle in before Carlos Alberto killed it off with a fourth goal.
FACTS & FIGURES
Leading Scorer: Gerd Mueller (GER)--10