Who will be the 1986 World Cup champion? Argentina has been my choice from the beginning and I've seen nothing the last four weeks to change my mind.
Argentina's star midfielder, Diego Maradona, came into this World Cup to prove something to the world. His ejection from the Cup in 1982 in Spain has lived with him these four years. Now, this mature 25-year-old has become a giant on the field. His breathtaking runs at and through defenses remind me of Pele and Johan Cruyff.
Coming into this World Cup, many fans were at odds as to who was the No. 1 player, Michel Platini, the French midfield technician, or Maradona. The Argentinian gets my vote.
Naturally, former Cosmos player Franz Beckenbauer, now the coach of West Germany, will designate someone to mark and, he hopes, subdue Maradona. If this is possible, and I doubt it, it would be a game of 10 against 10. If this is so, let's not underestimate the abilities of Argentina's other fine players.
West Germany has gained confidence each game. The Germans deservedly beat France, 2-0, in the semifinals. However, captain Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is slowed by a leg injury and will probably not play the full game. Much will be expected from Felix Magath, Klaus Aloffs and and Rudi Voller.
While watching Argentina and West Germany advance to the final, it was evident that the long-passing brand of European soccer has evolved into a shorter-passing, Latin-style game.
On reflection, the caliber of play during the first round was not good. It was obvious that, because of the point system, teams were concentrating on not losing, rather than on winning. A team tying all three games -- earning three points -- was assured of a place in the second round.
But succeeding rounds showed us some exciting and creative soccer.
Denmark's brilliant 5-1 victory over Uruguay (even though Uruguay played a man short) confirms my opinion that the Danes will be a threat in the next World Cup.
Morocco, an exciting team, penalty area to penalty area, is strengthening North Africa's progress in world play.
Canada, North America's representative in a very difficult group, played well in its first World Cup.
With better preparation, I believe the United States team could have qualified for Mexico.
Gordon Bradley, former coach of the NASL Washington Diplomats and New York Cosmos, is soccer coach at George Mason University.