Italia ’90 was the 14th FIFA World Cup which used the 24 team format and was played over twelve venues between June 8th and July 8th 1990. In total 52 matches were played with the eventual winners West Germany winning their third title.
Italy became just the second nation to host the event twice and ended up finishing third themselves. Italia ’90 will always be remembered by England fans for the semi-final penalties defeat to West Germany and Paul Gascoine’s tears.
Other than England’s epic semi-final against West Germany the event was noted for negative tactics that resulted in a number of new rule changes in time for the next World Cup.
The tournament had a record low goals-per-game ratio and was marred by time wasting with repeated back-passes to the keeper. 1990 also holds the record for the number of extra-time matches (8) with teams preferring to risk a penalty shoot-out than go forward.
The final itself at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome prompted a temporary rule change to counter the negative tactics that a replay would be played within 48 hours should the game finish a draw after extra-time. Despite this measure the final between West Germany and Argentina is known as the poorest and most cynical in World Cup history and thankfully a replay was not required.
Due to this World Cup, winning now provides 3 points and the back-pass rule was introduced.