(Or if the World Cup had kept 1-11 numbering in force)
By Jim Hearson
Pleasingly, we start this part in the same location as the previous one – Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Less pleasingly, the changes required take a bit more thought this time around. Let’s move on…
1986: Argentina 3 West Germany 2
Another Argentinian victory, another set of idiosyncratic squad numbers to go through. They were largely alphabetical, but Daniel Passarella, Diego Maradona and Jorge Valdano had no time for that kind of egalitarian action, and insisted upon 6, 10 and 11, respectively.
In fairness, that probably makes our lives easier, as the team for the final only had two completely incongruous numbers as a result – centre-back José Luis Cuciuffo in 9 and holding midfielder Sergio Batista in 2.
So, here we go – Nery Pumpido would sport 1, Oscar Ruggeri could assume the 6 of the enterocolitis-ridden Passarella, left wing-back Julio Olarticoechea could take 3, while Ricardo Giusti wearing 4 on the opposite side feels suitably Argentinian. That just leaves Hector Enrique to take 8, and we are done.
1990: West Germany 1 Argentina 0
Germany claimed revenge over Argentina four years later at Italia 90, not just for their previous victory, but also for playing silly beggars with their numbers. Argentina did again this time around too – albeit with the players from 1986 keeping their numbers, apart from goalkeeper Nery Pumpido, who moved to 1 – but they didn’t win, so it doesn’t matter.
Instead, we have the almost impeccable Germans – Thomas Berthold assuming 2 at right wing-back is a gimme, and its true wearer, Stefan Reuter, coming on for him as a substitute makes it even sweeter. The only other number to switch is Jürgen Klinsmann, whose fetish for 18 would need to be done away with here, with 11 the only remaining spare shirt and perfectly suitable for a German striker.
1994: Brazil 0 Italy 0 (aet, Brazil won 3-2 on penalties)
Italy maintained their block numbering technique in the US (unless your name was Roberto Baggio), so there would have been some decisions to be made there, but with Brazil, it’s a lot more straightforward.
In defence, Aldair can take the 3 shirt that he would wear for the Seleção in later years, while 4 makes sense for Marcio Santos next to him in the back line. That just leaves Mazinho to adopt the hallowed 10 shirt from Rai, who had been phased out of the starting XI after the group stage.
1998: Brazil 0 France 3
Once again, the previous winners feature as the losing finalist and once again, Brazil would have given us a simple task to 1-to-11-ify their starting line-up. Still, for the last final of this part, we may as well have something to get our teeth into.
It almost feels wrong to make Fabien Barthez wear 1, but he actually sported it more frequently than you’d think – partly because Ligue 1 was a slow adopter of squad numbers and partly because he probably didn’t want to start a fight with Roy Keane to get the Manchester United 16 shirt.
Ahead of Barthez, Lilian Thuram was employed as a right-back here, so giving him 2 is logical – plus he wore 21 at most his clubs, so he clearly didn’t mind the number. Frank Leboeuf would wear 5 here, as he was doing for his own domestic side, Chelsea and filling in for the absent Laurent Blanc.
With Marcel Desailly and Youri Djorkaeff’s awkward numbers cancelling each other out, that leaves us with midfield pair, Christian Karembeu and Emmanuel Petit. Given the former had a penchant for a double number – 22 at Real Madrid, 33 at Servette – that’s enough to warrant him wearing 11 here. The latter had worn 4 for France and Monaco due to his position, plus he was mates with its owner, Patrick Vieira, so it probably wouldn’t have caused too many issues.
2002: Germany 0 Brazil 2
For all the flair that Brazil are renowned for on the pitch, when it comes to dishing out squad numbers, they are somewhat rigid, leaving us with just a single player to reassign this time around. Probably just as well we’re covering an extra team in this part.
So, the number – Kleberson was in 15, and the only available number is 7, sported sparingly by Ricardinho in the finals, after he’d been a very late replacement for the injured Emerson.