España 82 – Málaga – La Rosaleda

From a purely footballing perspective, Málaga was not an obvious choice to act as a host city at España 82, but when has that ever deterred FIFA? Club Deportivo Málaga had never come close to winning a national title and the capacity of their Estadio La Rosaleda was clearly too small. Málaga however, was at the heart of the Costa del Sol and the stadium aside, it had all the necessary infrastructure such as hotels and a huge international airport. All that was needed was an international quality stadium.


In February 1980 the municipality of Málaga signed off the budget for the expansion of the stadium. The first phase began in the summer of 1980 and focused on building another anfiteatro on the east side of the enclosure. Next up and two new double decked fondos at the north and south ends were built. The two side stands also had bench seats added to both upper tiers. During the summer of 1981, the pitch was lowered and work started on adding a moat around the pitch. By December of 1981, La Rosaleda had four double deck stands, new floodlights, a new pitch, a moat and four gaping holes in each corner of the stadium. The work to “link” the stands was completed a mere five weeks before Scotland, USSR & New Zealand began their World Cup campaigns. I’ve used the word link with caution, because with the possible exception of the work at El Molinon in Gijón, the four corner stands at La Rosaleda were an eyesore. It was as if each side stand had been given a set of shoulder pads. Not that CD Málaga was bothered. It now played in a stadium with a 45,000 capacity and did not have to fork out a single céntimo, which is just as well as they were up to their neck in debt! You can read more about La Rosaleda and the club’s that have called it home here.

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Scotland stormed in to a 3-0 half-time lead against the debutants. However defensive lapses saw New Zealand score twice early in the second half, and whilst Scotland restored their three goal lead before the end, it was their defensive frailties that ultimately cost them.

The Soviets coasted to a three goal victory against the ultra-defensive Kiwi’s. The Soviet squad was built around the club sides of Dinamo Kiev & Dinamo Tbilisi, who were approaching their peak in the early 1980’s. Defeat for the New Zealanders knocked them out of the tournament and it would be another 28 years before they would return.

With Scotland needing a win to progress, the last thing they could afford was more defensive disasters. Joe Jordan gave Scotland the lead on 15 minutes, but after the interval the Dinamo Tbilisi duo Chivadze & Shengelia made the most of some hesitant defending. Souness equalised with five minutes to go, but Scotland bid adios to España 82.

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