Having reached the final in 1930, Argentina had to wait a while before winning the FIFA World Cup TM, which they eventually did on own soil in 1978. The great support for the home team helped carry them to victory over the Netherlands in the final, Cruyff having turned his back as he refused to travel to Argentina because of the political situation.

Argentina were outplayed by Italy in the opening round group games, but charged back to reach the final with a 6-0 win over Peru.

In Daniel Passarella, Osvaldo Ardiles and Mario Kempes, top scorer with six goals, they had outstanding players. They beat the Dutch 3-1 after extra time in the final.

A long-awaited success

Rarely has the run-up to a FIFA World Cup been so filled with controversy as the 11th tournament, held in Argentina. Football, in fact, took a back seat as the powers that be debated whether or not to boycott the tournament in protest against General Videla's totalitarian regime and its violation of human rights. Finally, however, despite a widespread call to stay away, the world's footballing nations all made the trip to Argentina. All, that is, except those that had failed to qualify, such as England (for the second time running), Yugoslavia and the USSR. Other "minor" footballing nations such as Iran and Tunisia had their first outings and France was back in the world's top football competition after twelve years in the wilderness.

But for its reappearance at the highest level, the French team - coached by Michel Hidalgo - made an unexceptional comeback, beaten 2-1 by both Italy and Argentina. Michel Platini and his team-mates failed to reach the second round despite defeating Hungary 3-1 in their last game.

All the tournament favourites made short work of their first round opponents except the Netherlands, finalists in Germany four years before but now without Cruyff, who had bowed out of the competition. But the Dutch managed to survive and in the second round, led by a rejuvenated Robbie Rensenbrink, they began to show what they were capable of and reached the final by trouncing Austria 5-1, defeating Italy 2-1 and then drawing with the title-holders from West Germany (2-2), who never really got into their stride.

In the other second round group, meanwhile, there was a much tougher struggle between Argentina and Brazil. With the host nation needing to beat Peru in its last game by at least four clear goals, the Brazilians, for a time at least, seemed to have booked their berth in the final. But contrary to all expectations, Passarella and his team-mates put no less than six goals past the Peruvians, including two by Mario Kempes.

This goal avalanche raised eyebrows among even the most casual of observers. In the final, however, Cesar Luis Menotti's men were worthy winners (3-1 after extra-time) over a Dutch side out of sorts again at the final hurdle. Argentina had attained its goal, and in the streets the celebrations could begin...

Mario Kempes "A great team effort"

Although Argentina's victory can be put down to the solid team spirit that existed between the players, the talent of one man, Mario Kempes, was also a deciding factor. Like his team-mates, Kempes, no. 10 for the sky blue and whites, began the tournament in low-key fashion, and only found his best form at the very end. But that was when it really counted. On top of a FIFA World Cup winners' medal, Kempes also came away from the tournament with the coveted title of top goal-scorer, hitting the net six times.