World Cups remembered: Brazil 1950

After 12 years of waiting, the World Cup returned to Brazil in 1950 – but it was Uruguay who emerged triumphant.

Disastrous debut for England as Uruguay lift trophy

After 12 years of waiting, the World Cup returned for Brazil 1950.

Uruguay reclaimed their trophy while England made a disastrous debut at a tournament that followed the end of World War II.

It was a competition of upsets with certain sides victims of over-confidence; the hosts and England were both guilty of such a crime.

Sixteen teams were originally due to compete in South America, but high-profile withdrawals saw the number of participants reduced.

Argentina declined as did France, who were reluctant to conduct a proposed 3,500km journey between fixtures.

India, meanwhile, declined because FIFA would not let them play in bare feet.

The British nations were able to take part, having rejoined FIFA four years earlier, and the 1949/50 British Home Championship was used as a qualifying group.

England triumphed while a second place at Brazil was still offered by FIFA. However, runners-up Scotland stated they would only participate as British champions and ultimately did not attend the 1950 tournament.

In the end, one team from North America, one from Central America, five from South America and six from Europe took part at the competition.

With 13 nations competing, the tournament featured an unusual first-round format with two groups of four, another group of three and a fourth section comprising just Uruguay and Bolivia.

The hosts got the tournament underway, cruising to a 4-0 victory over Mexico with Ademir bagging a brace at the specially built Estadio do Maracana.

Elsewhere in Group 1, Yugoslavia saw off Switzerland 3-0 before Brazil were held to a 2-2 draw against the Swiss in their second game.

Yugoslavia then made light work of the Mexicans before having to face Brazil, and Ademir scored his third of the tournament to help his nation to a 2-0 win and ensure they topped the group.

In the final game of the group, Switzerland compounded Mexico’s poor time in Brazil with a 2-1 scalp.

In Group 2, England, considered favourites alongside Brazil to lift the trophy, got their campaign started with a 2-0 victory over Chile as Stan Mortensen and Wilf Mannion scored.

England stunned

Spain then recorded back-to-back success over the USA and Chile, meaning England needed a positive result against the Americans in their second game.

England were considered certainties to defeat the USA, but they were stunned as Joseph Gaetjens struck in the first half to down the homeland of football.

England’s misery was compounded after they also lost to Spain before Chile thumped the USA 5-2 in a result that counted little in terms of the final group standings, with Spain the shock leaders.

George Raynor’s Sweden topped Group 3 at the expense of Paraguay and holders Italy – the Swedes beating the Azzurri 3-2.

In the two-game group, Uruguay smashed Bolivia 8-0 as Oscar Miguez grabbed himself a trio of goals.

Brazil first took on Sweden in the final round, dubbed ‘Group 6’, recording an emphatic 7-1 success with Ademir adding four to his goals scored tally.

Uruguay, though, got off to a drawing start after being held to a 2-2 draw versus Spain.

The Brazilians then continued their apparent march to glory after a 6-1 hammering of Spain, Ademir reaching eight goals on his home turf.

Uruguay earned their first victory of the final round of matches after battling back from 2-1 down to win 3-2 against Sweden.

On the final day of the tournament, Spain met Sweden and the result – a 3-1 win for the latter – saw the Scandinavians finish third overall.

At the same kick-off time of the aforementioned game, Brazil met Uruguay at the three-tiered Maracana, with nearly 200,000 supporters attending, in the knowledge a draw would ensure glory.

The host nation expected and when Friaca put them in front everything appeared to be going to plan.

However, Juan Schiaffino levelled for Uruguay before a dramatic goal from Alcides Ghiggia silenced the watching fans.

Uruguay held out and were crowned champions of the world for the second time, lifting the newly-named Jules Rimet Cup.

Player of the tournament: Zizinho

The gifted attacker came to international prominence at this tournament, where he scored two goals to help his side be in contention for glory. His incredible dribbling skills and pace dazzled spectators.

Game of the tournament: Uruguay 2 Brazil 1

The meeting between these two to decide the 1950 World Cup winner was a true spectacle due to the shock of it all. Brazil had marched to the showpiece while the hosts had ground their way there. Brazil expected success as nearly 200,000 supporters watched on in the incredible Estadio do Maracana. However, a remarkable comeback from Uruguay left Brazil bewildered and the 1930 winners jubilant.

Home nations

A combined Great Britain team defeated the rest of Europe 6-1 in an exhibition match played in Scotland prior to the tournament.

As touched upon, England, whose side included the great Sir Alf Ramsey, endured a torrid debut. Sixteen years later, though, England would make their mark.

Scotland’s decision not to play was down to their insistence they would only travel had they been crowned champions of the British Home Championship.

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