After a magical and victorious Maradona-led 1986 World Cup triumph, all hopes and expectations again flew high for Argentina at the 1990 tournament.
But things didn’t go as planned, as Cameroon kicked at Maradona's ankles and shocked Argentina in the opening game. But the reigning World Champions persisted, only to meet a West German side in the final seeking revenge against Argentina's super team.
Thirty-two years later, let’s look at the Argentina roster that ran with spark but ultimately failed to bring it home.
After a brief slip-up against Cameroon at the start of the tournament, captain Maradona led Argentina through the knockout rounds. He made that one magical pass to Claudio Canniga in the 80th minute for the 1-0 victory over Brazil in the Round of 16.
While Maradona missed the penalty against Yugoslavia in the quarter-finals, he redeemed himself by defeating host nation Italy in Naples, Maradona’s adopted city. It took the city time to come to grips with the loss stung by their hero. Still, Napoli would eventually change the stadium name to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona three decades after the player’s death.
After the 1990 World Cup, Maradona was repeatedly banned from the game in 1991 and 1994 for testing positive for cocaine — he only played two games in the 1994 World Cup.
The football icon finished his playing career at Sevilla, Newell’s Old Boys, and returned to Boca Juniors for one last curtain call before officially retiring.
Maradona took up various coaching roles after his playing career, leading Argentina into the 2010 World Cup, where they lost to Germany in the quarter-finals. He coached teams across the Emirates, Mexico, and Argentina before dying of a sudden heart attack in November 2020.
Always be ready, and your chance will come. That was the case for backup goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea, who took over for the starter Nery Pumpido after the latter broke his leg 11 minutes into the second game of the World Cup against the Soviet Union.
Goycochea was also the #2 behind Pumpido at River Plate.
“El Goyco” filled in for the injured Pumpido and saved two penalty kicks against Italy to send Argentina to the World Cup final. Before that, he kept a clean sheet against Brazil in the Round of 16 and preserved the net against the penalty shoutout against Yugoslavia in the quarter-finals.
Goycochea went on to win the 1991 and 1993 Copa America tournaments and the 1992 FIFA Confederations Cup and Artemio Franchi Cup. After that, he played his club football across France, Paraguay, and Argentina. Goycochea is currently a football journalist for Argentina’s Canal 7.
Center-back Oscar Ruggeri is one of Argentina’s greatest-ever defenders, earning 97 caps with the national side. Sixteen of those appearances came during the World Cup, in which Ruggeri played a crucial role in the 1986 triumph and 1990 runners-up — he also captained the 1994 side after the expulsion of Maradona. Ruggeri helped La Albiceleste to two Copa América and the 1992 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Ruggeri played on the same River Plate team as Hector Enrique, which won the 1986 Primera Division, Copa Libertadores, Intercontinental Cup, and Copa Interamericana. Ruggeri also played for La Liga giants Real Madrid where he won the 1989/90 title. After stints across Italy and Mexico, he finished his professional career in Argentina, playing for San Lorenzo and Lanus.
He’d go on to coach teams across Argentina, Mexico, and Spain before taking up an analyst role with Fox Sports Latin America show 90 Minutos de Futbol.
Argentina’s number 4, 26-year-old midfielder Jose Basuadlo aka “Pepe” started in all games in his first World Cup. He ultimately earned 31 caps for the side between 1989 and 1995, also featuring in the 1994 World Cup.
Basualdo played for 14 clubs during his professional playing career, with two stints at Boca Juniors, but he made most of his appearances for Villa Dalmine and Velez Sarsfield. He also played two seasons for Stuttgart in Germany.
After retiring from the pitch, Basualdo took up various managerial positions for club teams in Peru and dabbled in stings across Chile, Indonesia, and Argentina before taking up the head coaching role at Puerto Cabello in the Venezuelan first division.
Roberto Sensini conceded the disputed penalty kick in the 1990 World Cup final that led to West Germany’s game-winning goal. He also played in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, earning 60 caps with the Argentina side.
Sensini spent most of his professional career playing for Serie A teams Udinese and Parma, with a brief season at Lazio. He became Udinese’s manager in 2006 before heading back to Argentina to coach various sides, including Estudiantest, Newell’s Old Boys, Colon, Atletico Rafaela, and most recently, Everton Vina del Mar in Chile.
Central defensive midfielder Nestor Lorenzo headed to Swindon Town after the 1990 World Cup. The player signed for a club record fee of £400k in 1990, scoring on his debut.
Lorenzo then returned home to play for Argentine clubs San Lorenzo, Banfield, Ferro Carril Oeste, and one year for Boca Juniors before retiring.
Lorenzo took on various assistant coaching roles after his playing career, including two years with the Argentina national team between 2004/06. He’s currently the coach of Colombia's national team.
Jorge Burruchaga famously scored the decisive goal in the 1986 World Cup final, giving Argentina its second title.
The 5-foot-10 attacking midfielder/forward, nicknamed Burru, went on to play for French clubs Nantes and Valenciennes FC before returning to Argentina to finish his career at Independiente where he won the South American Super Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup.
He coached various Argentine clubs after lacing them up on the pitch, including Arsenal de Sarandi, Estudiantes, and Banfield, before wrapping up at Atletico de Rafaela.
He’s currently co-commentating on Fútbol de Primera Radio on the World Cup games in Qatar.
Pedro Troglio provided Argentina with its first goal of the 1990 tournament when he scored a header against the Soviet Union at Stadio San Paolo.
After five seasons at River Plate, he took his talents to Italy, where he played for Verona, Lazio, and Ascoli before trying his hand in Japan, suiting up for Avispa Fukuoka. He returned to Argentina in the late 90s and early 2000s to play for Gimnasia La Plata and Villa Dalmine.
Troglio’s extensive management career includes time at Argentina clubs Independiente, Argentina Juniors, and Tigre before roles in Peru and Honduras, where he currently coaches CD Olimpia.
Gustavo Dezotti famously got red-carded in the final against Germany. After all, he neck tackled Jürgen Kohler — Maradona received a yellow card for dissent.
Dezotti played most of his club career for Newell Old Boys, scoring 40 goals in 208 appearances and winning the Primera title during the 1987/88 season. He went to play for Lazio and Cremonese in Italy before playing his last professional years in Mexico and then Uruguay.
Five-foot-eleven defender Juan Simon featured in the 1990 World Cup final with Argentina against Germany.
But most of his successes lie at the club level, where he helped Boca Junions win their first official league title in eleven years in 1992. He also played for Newell’s Old Boys and in the French league for Monaco and Strasbourg.
Simon is currently a guest analyst for ESPN.
El Tiburon (The Shark), as he was nicknamed, featured in the final at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. He was also a Primera champion with River Plate and Independiente before joining Los Andes — where his career began — to finalize his professional career.