It was the final of the 1990 world cup and like all others it came on a Sunday. This being a day on which my friends and I would be watching the game at Catalini’s apartment. Catalini, the director of the “Italian Institute of Culture” in Warsaw had invited us not only to watch the game but for lunch as well. First as is always done in this sort of circumstances would be lunch followed by the game and as I expected; a meal of the truest Italian nature. After all with Catalini being as overweight as he was, there must have been a great cook in him somewhere.
I remember on that day Danilo, one of my best friends stopping by my apartment, after which we set off to the place where all of us who so cruelly lost to Argentina would be watching that very team playing against Germany in the final we felt Italy should have been playing.
It was on our way however that I hit upon the idea of getting something for Catalini; a bottle of wine was out of the question given good wines were hard if impossible to find in the Poland at that time, so we went in to one of the few open places on a Sunday and bought a kilo of chocolate-vanilla ice cream. In all this it was my friend Danilo who was worried about being late to Catalini’s; him insisting that it was of more importance for us to be there on time to see Catalini cook, so he could boast about his culinary abilities than for us to bring something.
It must have resembled a comedy scene, us passing that ice cream back in forth when Catalini opened the door to catch me holding it; almost too embarrassed to hand it to him as he said “bon giorno”. I will always remember that moment in which I handed him that ice cream; after replying in kind to his greeting and though I almost never feel coy, that was one time that for some reason I did. Catalini seemed surprised as he took our offering and looked at me standing outside his door and said “thank you but you really didn’t have to”. Danilo at that moment gave a way relief that it had not been him who had had to go through that moment. “I feel better not showing up empty handed” was my reply as he let me in.
Once inside we went about having a lunch which in all truth I remember nothing about other than it being of quality and the talk about the match to come. It was after the ice cream I bought which turned out to be the only desert on the menu that the game started. In fact it did surprise me that this man whose weight probably was mine by more than double did not get some other kind of desert, which made me glad I did.
As for the main even, it was set in the back ground; given how boring this final was. Argentina and Germany, both at least trying to attack yet it was this that caused play to become a deadlock in midfield. As for opportunities they were limited to Argentina almost scoring an own goal and Burruchaga being pulled down by Matthaus; in what could have been a penalty.
Maradona was being used to mark Matthaus, making the game sloppy with bad passes and both teams trying mostly to block the others attempts at going forward. Germany perhaps making more effort to attack, while Maradona despite being overly marked did have a moment or two.
The second half was more of the same though it did have its points of interest. It being at the 84 minute mark that Voller fell in the box and a penalty was given; which was converted by Brehme. His shot barely beating Goycochea and ending up in the back of the net for what would turn out to be the game winner. Later it was said that Matthaus should have taken it but heisted given his lack of confidence in the new shoes he was wearing. It was also in the second half that Argentina had two players sent off. This the first time a player let alone two had been shown the red card in a final.
If there is a moment that is often remembered in this most forgetful final apart from the controversial penalty; it is that yellow card Maradona got for protesting Dezotti’s sending off. The game would end 1-0; making it the most boring final played till this day.
Regarding factors which set this match apart from other finals, this was the first time the winning team only scored one goal while it was the first the loosing team got shut out. This final also was the first time a European team had beaten one from South America.
The game did not hold much interest for us since Italy was not playing apart from it not being much of a spectacle but it was worth watching simply because it was a final. As for me personally this final held no emotional interest not even given my relationship with Argentina, which nobody around me was even aware of. As for my Italian friends, they too seemed disappointed by the match but we did have a nice time during what was in fact a pleasant evening despite a miserable game.