In 1990 Diego came to Italy to play his 3rd World Cup. He enchanted people from all over the world in Mexico 86 and wanted to repeat his great tournament here, in Italy, the country where he played in the last years. Argentina played in Naples the 1st round matches, and you can imagine how the stadium was full when Diego played for his national team. In Naples many people became fans of Argentina instead of Italy, but in the other stadiums in Italy Maradona and his team were whistled by the crowd. That was a normal scene when Diego played in Naples: he was whistled and booed when he was playing in Northern Italy stadiums, particularly because he had won his last Italian Championship with Napoli few months before.
Argentina played the first match of the tournament against Cameroon in Milan and the Africans surprisingly won 1-0 with a goal by Omam Biyik (67. minute).
Maradona played the second match against USSR in Naples and Argentina won 2-0 with goals by Troglio (28.) and Burruchaga (80.), Maradona was booked but played a great match.
His third match was against Romania when his team drew 1-1 with a goal by Monzon (61.) and the equalizer by Balint (69.). Argentina qualified for the 2nd round ranking third in the group behind Cameroon and Romania.
But Argentina played an incredible match in the 2nd round when they defeated 1-0 Brazil with a goal by Caniggia (80.) after a great assist by Maradona. They defeated Brazil, the favourite team for the final victory! In Turin Maradona showed his superb class with a simply extraordinary assist to Caniggia! Argentina was now in quarter-finals!
In quarter-finals they played against Yugoslavia, which had defeated Spain 2-1 after extra time in the 2nd round. The match was tough: Yugoslavia played with 10 men since 30. minute when Sabanadzovic was sent off, but that was not enough for Argentina to win the match. 0-0 a.e.t. and then penalty shoot-out. On penalties Argentina went through (3-2), but Diego missed the penalty! Ivkovic, the Yugoslavian goalkeeper, had already saved a Maradona's penalty when his Sporting Lisbon played Napoli in the UEFA Cup, though Napoli went through. Argentina was in semi-finals!
Think about this: Argentina will play the semifinal against Italy in Naples! What a match! How will the Neapolitans take the event? Will they support Italy or Argentina? It was July 3, 1990 and there was the kick-off. 70000 spectators were in the "San Paolo" stadium and Italy - Argentina was 1-1 after extra time with the goals by Schillaci for Italy (18.) and the striker Caniggia for Argentina (67.). There was a penalty shoot-out. This time Diego scored the penalty and Argentina went through after the mistakes by Serena and Donadoni for Italy.
They were in the final!
In the "Stadio Olimpico" in Rome there was the World Cup final between Argentina and Germany (attendance: 73,603). It was a tight match, but Germany won the Cup with a penalty scored by Andreas Brehme (85.), revenging after their 2-3 defeat against Argentina in Mexico.
Argentina was second, and Maradona was unhappy: we remember his sad face when the referee whistled the end of the match, the dream to win his 2nd world cup had vanished. However, his superb class was the main reason Argentina went through to the final: he is a leader, a man who can lead a team to victory with one "magic", he can decide a game, can give the victory to his team with an invention.