Despite a threatened boycott by several nations in protest at the Videla military regime, all the qualifiers assembled in Argentina for the 1978 finals.
The same format as 1974 was adopted -- two group phases and no knockout stages -- and controversy surrounded Argentina's passage into the final.
The Argentines, for whom the long-haired Mario Kempes was a revelation up front, romped to a 6-0 win over Peru in their final match of the second phase to oust Brazil on goal difference, prompting cries of fix from their bitter South American rivals.
Holders West Germany failed to beat Holland and Italy and were eliminated when Berti Vogts' own goal gave Austria a 3-2 victory.
Holland thrashed the Austrians 5-1 to reach the final for the second successive year, but, crucially, they were without their master Johan Cruyff, who had stayed at home.
Once again the Dutch were beaten, to the delight of the 77,260 crowd in Buenos Aires. Argentina took the lead through Kempes after 37 minutes before subsitute Dirk Nanninga equalised late on. In extra time Kempes restored Argentina's lead and Daniel Bertoni made it 3-1, leaving captain Daniel Passarella to lift Argentina's first World Cup.
1978 WORLD CUP LEGENDS
Argentina: b. 1954
The Valencia striker was the only overseas-based player to be chosen by Argentine coach Cesar Luis Menotti.
Flowing locks and a dashing, leggy style marked him out on the pitch, together with his eye for goal and ability to rise to the big occasion.
Known as a free-kick specialist, but it was his ability to pierce defences with the ball at his feet that did most to lead Argentina to glory on home soil in 1978.
Scored twice in the 3-1 win against Holland in the final. His second effort was typical, surging past three defenders to beat the goalkeeper. Kempes then went on another mazy run to set up the third for team-mate Daniel Bertoni.
His six goals made him top scorer in the tournament, and he went on register 20 goals in 43 international appearances.
Argentina: b. 1952
Gutsy little midfield playmaker whose intelligent passing and ball skills were crucial to Argentina's success.
Won 42 caps for his country and was a roaring success as a player with Tottenham -- or "Tottingham" as he pronounced it - together with international team-mate Ricky Villa.
Made 238 league appearances for Spurs, helping them to FA Cup and UEFA Cup wins in a team that included current England coach Glenn Hoddle.
Had a spell with Paris Saint-Germain in 1982/83 following the Falklands War.
Enjoyed little success as a manager, with unsuccessful spells in the early 1990s at Newcastle, West Bromwich Albion and Spurs, where a cavalier attitude towards attack saw his team leaking goals from all angles.
Netherlands: b. 1949
A fleet-footed full-back in Holland's 1974 side, he graduated to captain four years later in Argentina in a more withdrawn sweeper role.
Like so many Dutch stars, he learned his craft and the philosophy of total football with Ajax, his transition into the national squad a natural progression.
Imposing physically, he mopped up many a threatening attack before turning defence into offence in an instant with a measured pass or a dash forward.
In the 1978 final against Argentina he so nearly inspired the Dutch to the title their wonderful football deserved. In the dying seconds of normal time, with the score at 1-1, Krol played Rob Rensenbrink clean through on goal. Rensenbrink hit the post, and Holland's chance had gone.
Won 83 international caps.
1978 WORLD CUP TOP SCORERS
Mario Kempes (ARG) 6
Teofilo Cubillas (PER) 5
Robbie Rensenbrink (NED) 5
Leopoldo Luque (ARG) 4
Hans Krankl (AUT) 4
1978 WORLD CUP TRIVIA
- Holland were without the star of the 1974 final, Johan Cruyff, who refused to travel to Argentina.
- Scotland had enjoyed a very successful tour of South America the year before, and according to manager Ally MacLeod were capable of beating the world. Once again they were Britain's only representative.
- Two countries were making their debuts in the finals -- Iran and Tunisia.
- For the fourth consecutive tournament, the opening match ended 0-0 when Argentina met Hungary in Group One in Buenos Aires. The match was marred when two Hungarians, Andras Torocsik and Tibor Nyilasi were sent off.
- In another Group One match Italy beat France 2-1. Bernard Lacombe of France recorded the second fastest World Cup goal when he scored after 36 seconds.
- France beat Hungary 3-1, but only after the referee had threatened to make them forfeit the match for not wearing the correct kit. Police fetched the kit of the local second division side and, wearing it, France won 3-1.
- Also in Group Two Tunisia became the first African country to record a World Cup finals victory when they beat Mexico 3-1 after being 1-0 down.
- Scotland suffered a shock in their first game, losing 3-1 to outsiders Peru. After the game a dope test on winger Willie Johnston proved positive and Scotland sent him home in disgrace.
- Welsh referee Clive Thomas became notorious after controversially blowing for full-time time as Brazil's Zico headed in a goal direct from a corner against Sweden. Thomas, who had awarded the corner, disallowed the goal and the match finished 1-1.
- Argentina became the third host nation in four World Cup finals to win the trophy.
1978 WORLD CUP CUP WINNING SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Hector Baley, Ubaldo Matildo Fillol, Ricardo Lavolpe
Defenders: Luis Galvan, Daniel Killer, Jorge Olguin, Ruben Pagnanini, Daniel Passarella (capt), Alberto Tarantini
Midfielders: Norberto Alonso, Ossie Ardiles, Americo Gallego, Ruben Galvan, Omaro Larrosa, Daniel Valencia
Forwards: Daniel Bertoni, Rene Houseman, Mario Kempes, Lepoldo Luque, Oscar Ortiz
Coach: Cesar Luis Menotti