History of the World Cup from 1970-2006

By Mike Collett

LONDON, May 19 (Reuters) - A history of the World Cup finals from 1970 to 2006:

Mexico 1970

Brazil won the Jules Rimet trophy outright with what is regarded as the greatest side ever, including Clodoaldo, Gerson, Rivelino, Tostao, Jairzinho, Pele and Carlos Alberto.

In the final at Mexico City's Aztec Stadium, Brazil dazzled and danced to a memorable 4-1 win over Italy with Jairzinho becoming the only player to have scored in every match.

In the semi-finals, Italy beat West Germany 4-3 in the only match in World Cup history to produce five goals in extra time.

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West Germany 1974

Another host triumph as the Germans took the new FIFA World Cup for the first time in a tournament remembered for the arrival of "total football".

The Netherlands, with Johan Cruyff outstanding, beat Argentina 4-0 and a fading Brazil 2-0 but could not overcome West Germany in the final and went down 2-1, Gerd Mueller typically scoring the winner.

The Dutch took the lead in the second minute when Johan Neeskens scored from a penalty without a German player having touched the ball from kickoff.

The Germans, who had become European champions in 1972, were a class apart from the rest though, with Sepp Maier in goal, Berti Vogts and Paul Breitner in defence, marshalled by the imperious Franz Beckenbauer and with Mueller up front.

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Argentina 1978

Hysterical support and tickertape welcomes for the home team in a tournament played under a military dictatorship helped carry Argentina to victory over the Netherlands in the final.

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, a result which aroused suspicions.

The match kicked off after Brazil had played Poland in the same group, so Argentina knew exactly what they had to do to reach the final -- and so did Peru.

In Daniel Passarella, Osvaldo Ardiles and Mario Kempes, top scorer with six goals, Argentina had outstanding players.

It was the misfortune of the Dutch to face the host nation in the final for the second successive tournament, although they forced Argentina into extra time before losing 3-1.

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Spain 1982

The first 24-team World Cup had some outstanding matches and gave the world its first real look at the devilled genius of Diego Maradona.

Italy survived the opening round on goal difference and went on to win their third trophy after beating Brazil 3-2 in an astonishing second-phase match when a Paolo Rossi hat-trick saw off a team featuring Zico, Socrates, Falcao and Eder.

Maradona scored twice in a 4-1 group stage win over Hungary, who had set a World Cup record 10-1 victory over El Salvador in their previous match. He showed the other side of his character when he was sent off against Brazil in the second phase.

Italy beat West Germany 3-1 in the final with Rossi finishing top scorer with six goals.

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Mexico 1986

The tournament was originally awarded to Colombia who pulled out as hosts and FIFA decided the competition should return to the high altitude of Mexico for the second time in 16 years.

Earthquakes preceded the finals but Argentina, with Maradona the leading man this time, were not perturbed by anything.

World Champions Italy fell to France in the second round, while Brazil lost in the quarter-finals on penalties to France who were in turn muscled out by the West Germans in the semi-finals for the second successive tournament.

Maradona, with two goals against both England -- one a deliberate handball he proudly said had been scored by "the hand of God", the other one of the greatest goals ever scored -- and Belgium, led Argentina through and in the final they overcame West Germany 3-2 in front of 115,000 at the Aztec Stadium.

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Italy 1990

A tournament full of dull, defensive play and matches won on penalty kicks. The final between West Germany and Argentina was one of the worst World Cup games ever played and was decided by a late penalty converted by West Germany's Andreas Brehme.

Argentina became the first team not to score in the final and the first to have two men sent off in the final. The goal average of 2.2 per game remains the lowest of any tournament.

Hosts Italy flattered to deceive before losing on penalties in the semi-finals to Argentina. West Germany won the other semi-final on penalties against England.

Despite that, there were some notable successes. Cameroon stunned world champions Argentina 1-0 in the opening game and went on to reach the quarter-finals, leading England 2-1 before losing 3-2. It remains Africa's best World Cup showing.

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United States 1994

A superb World Cup marred only by a disappointing final which Brazil won on penalties after a goalless draw with Italy in a match which kicked off at midday in the blazing heat of Pasadena, California.

Bulgaria, who had never won a World Cup match in 16 previous attempts, beat unified Germany en route to the semi-finals.

Maradona, Argentina's hero of 1986, tested positive for drugs and was kicked out of the tournament and Colombian Andres Escobar was murdered days after returning home following his own goal against the United States.

The hosts were not disgraced, going out to Brazil in the second round. The Brazilians were deserved cup winners, even if the nature of their final victory left a hollow feeling.

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France 1998

The first 32-team finals, won, for the first time since Argentina in 1978, by the host nation. Their 3-0 win over a lethargic Brazil in Paris was the most one-sided final ever.

Ronaldo, arguably the best player in the world at the time, had a woeful final, but only after the game did the facts emerge about his illness during the night before the match.

Croatia, Jamaica, South Africa and Japan all made their World Cup debuts.

Zinedine Zidane emerged as France's golden boy with two goals in the final and his image emblazoned on the Arc de Triomphe as France celebrated.

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South Korea and Japan 2002

The opening match was in Seoul and the final in Yokohama and Brazil's win was no great surprise after seeds such as world champions France, Argentina and fancied Portugal all went out in the first round.

The absence of the bigger teams in the later stages made the tournament less attractive, though not for the fans of South Korea and Turkey who made it into the semi-finals.

South Korea embraced the World Cup more than any other nation before it with millions wearing their country's colours and only a late Michael Ballack goal for Germany in the semi-final knocked out the Koreans.

Brazil beat Turkey 1-0 in the other semi-final before Ronaldo erased the memory of the 1998 final by scoring both goals for Brazil in their 2-0 victory over Germany.

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Germany 2006

Huge crowds totalling 3.3 million, with the third-highest match attendance average (52,416) in the competition along with just 147 goals for the second-lowest scoring average (2.3).

In the final between France and Italy Zinedine Zidane's heat-butt on Marco Materazzi meant the Frenchman ended his career with a red card after he had scored the opening goal of the game. Zidane was then awarded FIFA's Golden Ball as the tournament's outstanding player.

Italy became world champions for the fourth time with a penalty shootout victory over France, after eliminating Germany 2-0 in the semi-finals in the tournament's outstanding match.

Ronaldo overhauled Mueller's record of 14 finals goals, taking his tally to 15 with three before Brazil went out in the quarter-finals to France. (Editing by Clare Fallon; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)