World Cup 1954 Facts
World Cup 1954 Background
On July 26 1946 in Luxembourg City, Brazil was chosen as the 1950 World Cup host. On that same day it was also announced that Switzerland would host the 1953 World Cup. Although 1 day after, in addition to the 1950 World Cup, the 1953 World Cup was pushed back 1 year as well. This meant the 5th World Cup would be hosted in the year 1954.
Also for this World Cup, Switzerland was the only country to place a bid to host the 2nd World Cup in the 50s. Switzerland was a great option due to being neutral during World War II and the fact that the FIFA organisation, located in Switzerland, was celebrating its 50th anniversary.
World Cup 1954 Participants
45 countries entered the qualification rounds but only 16 places were available for the 1954 World Cup.
2 of the 16 places were allocated automatically to Uruguay (previous World Cup winner) and Switzerland, the 1954 World Cup host.
11 places for Europe excluding Switzerland were allocated to the following countries: Yugoslavia, Austria, France, Turkey, Hungary, Scotland, England, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Belgium and West Germany. Both Scotland and Turkey qualified for the first time. Austria qualified for the first time since 1934.
Germany split up after World War II. West Germany was able to qualify again after having being banned from the 1950 World Cup. Germany would play as West Germany and East Germany now and would continue to do so till the 1990 World Cup.
1 place for South America excluding Uruguay was allocated to country Brazil.
For the first time in World Cup history, South American countries finally played qualification matches. In all 4 previous World Cups, South American countries qualified without any matches played due to withdrawals.
1 place for North/Central America and Caribbean was allocated to country Mexico.
1 place for Asia was allocated to country South Korea which qualified for the first time.
World Cup 1954 Pools
The 1955 World Cup also used a unique format like in previous World Cups. Again there were 4 pools with each pool containing 4 countries. However, unlike the round-robin format, where the pool teams needed to play against each other, only 4 matches had to be played per pool. Normally when the teams play all the other teams in the pool, a total of 6 matches would have been played. However with this unique format, 2 seeded teams had to play against 2 unseeded teams: a total of 4 matches.
The 2nd interesting fact about this unique format is that from the First Round on, 30 minutes of extra time had to be played when a match ends in a draw. Only when the score is still a draw after the 30 minutes extra time, the match ends officially in a draw.
This is the first World Cup where 2 teams would advance to the Quarter-Finals. If the number 1 and number 2 teams of a pool contain equal points, lots would be drawn to decide which team will occupy the number 1 spot. If number 2 and 3 contain equal points, an extra match (play-off) had to be played to decide which team would progress to the Quarter-Finals.
The 3rd interesting fact about this format is that in the Quarter-Finals, the number 1 team of each pool had to play against each other and the number 2 teams against each other. In all the future World Cups, the number 1 team of a pool has to play against the number 2 team of another pool.
In the Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals, when a match ended in a draw after 120 minutes, a lot would be drawn to decide the winner. In the Final, this would only occur if a replay match ends in a draw. From this World Cup on, there would always be a match for the third place in each upcoming World Cup.
The 4 1954 World Cup pools contained each exactly 4 teams, which was the first time this happened in World Cup history. In the 1934 World Cup there were also 16 teams participating, but they weren’t divided into pools. From this tournament on, 16 teams would participate in a World Cup which would only change 28 years later, in the 1982 World Cup in Spain.
The 8 seeded teams which were based on world rankings were: Austria, Brazil, England, France, Hungary, Italy, Turkey and Uruguay. These teams were put together with the ‘lower’ unseeded teams.
The seeded teams for the 1954 World Cup were already established before the qualification matches ended. This was never done before. Spain was selected as a seed country. Surprisingly however, they lost to Turkey because of straws which had to be drawn. It was a small boy with the name Luigi Franco Gemma who picked a straw with his eyes blindfolded. Since Turkey won the draw, they were selected as a seed country and not Spain.
The pools were as followed:
World Cup 1954 Stadiums
The following 6 cities and 6 stadiums were used in Switzerland:
World Cup 1954 Schedule
*On a side note: Switzerland is stated as the number 1 team of pool 4. This is because they had to play an extra play-off against Italy which Switzerland has won. It is England however, who is considered as the number 1 team and therefore had to play against the number 1 team of pool 3: Uruguay.
World Cup 1954 Memorable Matches
Brazil – Yugoslavia 1-1
Brazil and Yugoslavia met once again, as was the case in both the 1930 and 1950 World Cups. Brasil lost the first match and won the 2nd match. This match ended in a draw. Brazil was the seeded team and Yugoslavia the unseeded team. Branko Zebec scored for Yugoslavia and Didi scored for Brazil. Seeded team France lost against Yugoslavia and therefore it was Yugoslavia to advance to the Quarter-Finals together with Brazil. Mexico lost both matches. Brazil and Yugoslavia had both 3 points but it was Brazil to top the pool due to the drawing of lots.Pool 2
Hungary – West Germany 8-3
Hungary the seeded team was playing against the B team of West Germany the unseeded team. This means that not the best players of West Germany were playing this match. Hungary won with an impressive 8-3, making the world think they would easily beat West Germany in the Final. Forward Sándor Kocsis scored 4 goals. He became the first player to have scored 2 hat-tricks in a World Cup. His first hat-trick was scored against South Korea. Other Hungarian players who scored were Ferenc Puskás (the Galloping Major), Nándor Hidegkuti and József Tóth. The players Alfred Pfaff, Helmut Rahn (Der Boss) and Richard Herrmann scored for Germany. It was also this match where Werner Liebrich tackled Hungarian Ferenc Puskás fiercely, resulting in missing all the upcoming matches except for the Final against West Germany. Both countries ended up advancing to the Quarter-Finals. But while Hungary topped the pool, West Germany had to play a play-off against Turkey. Both teams had 2 points but West Germany crushed Turkey with 7-2 in this play-off and therefore finished 2nd in the pool.Pool 3
Uruguay – Scotland 7-0
Seeded country Uruguay played their 2nd World Cup match against unseeded country Scotland after having won the 1950 World Cup. They ended the first round well by scoring 7 goals. Carlos Borges scored a hat-trick. 5 goals of the 7 were scored in the 2nd half. Óscar Míguez and Julio Abbadie scored each 2 goals. Uruguay advanced with ease to the Quarter-Finals where they encountered England. Uruguay did have the same amount of points as Austria, so lots needed to be drawn. Uruguay topped the pool and Austria finished 2nd and encountered Switzerland in the Quarter-Finals.Pool 4
England – Belgium 4-4
This was England’s 2nd World Cup after having lost the infamous 1950 World Cup pool match against USA. They were the seeded team and Belgium the unseeded team. The match however ended in a draw. 2 goals were scored in extra time, and both were scored by an English player. Nat Lofthouse scored for England and Jimmy Dickinson scored an own goal. This is the first and only own goal so far in World Cup history which was scored in extra time. In normal time Ivor Broadis (2x) and Nat Lofthouse scored for England. Léopold Anoul (2x) and Henri Coppens scored for Belgium. Belgium lost to Italy as well and didn’t advance in the tournament. Neither did Italy by the way. Italy and Switzerland had the same amount of points and had to play a play-off as was the case in pool 2. It was Switzerland that won this play-off with 4-1. England already topped the pool and advanced together with Switzerland.Quarter-Finals
Austria – Switzerland 7-5
This match became memorable since the highest amount of goals were scored off all World Cup matches: 12 goals in total. It was Switzerland, which ensured Italy was eliminated from this tournament, that scored the first 3 goals in 20 minutes after kick-off. They were scored by Robert Ballaman and Josef Hügi (2x). However, the score of 0-3 lasted only for 6 minutes. In the next 3 minutes, 3 goals were scored by Austrian strikers Theodor Wagner (2x) and Robert Körner. The score became 3-3 but not for long. For Switzerland both Robert Ballaman and Josef Hügi scored each 1 more goal. For Austria Theodor Wagner and Robert Körner scored each 1 more goal as well. However, midfielder Ernst Ocwirk and striker Erich Probst ensured the score ended in 7-5 for Austria.Hungary – Brazil 4-2 (Battle of Berne)
Wankdorf Stadium, Bern – attendance: 60,000
As was the case in the 1938 World Cup, Brazil was involved in a highly aggressive match. This match is considered as one of the most violent matches in World Cup history, which goes by the name The Battle of Berne. People were expecting a lot from the attractive playing Brazilians and the strong unbeatable Hungarians who have scored 17 goals in total so far in the tournament. But the match wasn’t played as peacefully as one thought it would be played. The match started normally with the first 2 goal scored in 10 minutes by Hungarians Nándor Hidegkuti and Sándor Kocsis. It was right back Djalma Santos who scored a penalty for Brazil resulting in a score 2-1 score. However in the 2nd half, after Hungarian defender Mihály Lantos changed the score into 3-1, the Brazilians started to be upset together with journalists and officials. After the score, the fouls and tackles were increasing fast and became more violent. 3 players were also sent off. Juninho was able to score the 3-2, but it was Sándor Kocsis again to score the last goal of the match: 4-2. The fight between both teams continued even in the dressing room but it wasn’t only the players who were fighting. The fans and officials were participating as well and the police had to intervene.Semi-Finals
Hungary – Uruguay 4-2
This match is considered as 1 of the most exciting matches of the tournament. Uruguay which eliminated England in their previous match, had to beat Hungary in this Semi-Final. Uruguay had never lost a World Cup match yet so it was obvious the match would be highly entertaining. The score was 2-2 after 90 minutes. Zoltán Czibor and Nándor Hidegkuti scored for Hungary the first 2 goals of the match. Uruguayan Juan Hohberg (2x) made sure the score was tied in the final 15 minutes. However, Hungarian Sándor Kocsis scored his first goal of the match in extra time and his 2nd goal 5 minutes later. With his last goal Kocsis became the 1954 World Cup top scorer with 11 goals in total. The match ended in a final score of 4-2 and Uruguay lost their first World Cup match.
West Germany – Austria 6-1
West Germany reached the Semi-Final with more ease than Hungary. Even the Semi-Final was won smoothly in comparison to Hungary. Their opponent was Austria and it was the first time they played against each other. In the 1938 World Cup Austrian players played for the German team when Austria united with Germany before World War II. West Germany however showed in this match clear superiority in football by goal scorers Hans Schäfer, Max Morlock and the brothers Fritz Walter (2x penalties) and Ottmar Walter (2x). Striker Erich Probst scored the only goal for Austria. West Germany entered the Final for the very first time.World Cup 1954 Final
The Final: Hungary against West Germany. This was 1 of those World Cup’s Finals where everyone knew for sure who the 1954 World Cup champion would become: Hungary of course. Their team was also named the Golden Team and Magical or Mighty Magyars. Why there was absolutely no doubt Hungary would beat West Germany easily? Here are some impressive reasons why:
But speaking of a G O O D reason why people were expecting for the Golden Team of Hungary to win against West Germany is the fact that they encountered each other already in the First Round. Hungary crushed West Germany with an impressive score of 8-3 in their first match!
Hungary entered the Final for the 2nd time after having lost the 1938 World Cup Final. For West Germany this was their first World Cup Final. The loss against Hungary in the pool stage was the only match lost.
So on the 4th of July, in the Wankdorf Stadion in Bern on a rainy day, the Final finally started. Around 60.000 people were in the stadium to watch the match. This time West Germany had their best players on the field, unlike their previous match against Hungary. The team was using special football boots produced by Adidas which were adaptable to any kind of weather. Hungarian captain Ferenc Puskás, also called the Galloping Major, was back on the field after having missed 2 matches due to injury. He wasn’t in his best form though.
Within 10 minutes after the start of the first half of the Final, 2 goals were scored by Hungary. 1 goal was scored by captain Ferenc Puskás (6′) and the 2nd goal was scored by Zoltán Czibor (8′). Hungary was feeling the rhythm and started to warm up properly. It became obvious West Germany will be crushed as has happened in their first 1954 World Cup encounter in the First Round.
Surprisingly and apparently, West Germany remained mentally strong and changed the score quickly after 2 minutes. German Max Morlock scored the first goal (10′) for West Germany and Helmut Rahn the 2nd goal 8 minutes later (18′). The score was 2-2 now and both teams were unable to score until the 86th minute of the match. It was German Helmut Rahn again who scored the final goal of the match: 2-3. Ferenc Puskás did make a controversial goal 2 minutes before the end of the match, however according to the linesman the goal was off-side.
No one believed what just happened: Hungary finally lost a match. Not just a match, it was the 1954 World Cup Final. This match is 1 of the biggest upsets in World Cup history and has been given the name: Das Wunder von Bern (The Miracle of Bern).
For Hungary the end score was a complete disaster and remains a sensitive and controversial subject to this day. A reason for this were the bad decisions taken by the referee such as the 87th minute off-side goal by Ferenc Puskás. Till this day, eyewitnesses still claim the referee was wrong since the goal was not off-side at all.
Another reason for Hungary to be so upset, are the different claims of doping use by the German players during half-time. The players were supposedly injected with vitamin C and even methamphetamine.
For Germany, still suffering from the World War II aftermath, the 1954 World Cup Jules Rimet trophy could not have won in a better time. The euphoria that has been released in the German country was enormous and boosted the confidence and pride among the German population. From this moment on, the world understood never to underestimate the German team again. This is a fact that is still standing in today’s football tournaments.
Hungary has never played a World Cup Final again and hasn’t been this successful since.
West Germany became the first country to have won a World Cup after having lost a match (against Hungary in the pool stage). Also, West Germany is till this date the only country to have won a World Cup without having played against a non-European country. The 1954 World Cup Final was merely the beginning of an impressive German World Cup performance to come in future World Cups.
West Germany and Hungary have played against each other for the very first time in this World Cup. So far, they haven’t met each other again in World Cup history.
World Cup 1954 Records
Did You Know
World Cup 1954 FIFA Awards
World Cup 1954 FIFA All-Star Team
This is the 2nd and last time so far a player from Austria is included in the FIFA All-Star Team. Germany is for the first time included. The FIFA All-Star Team includes Brazilian player Djalma Santos for the first time. He would be included in 2 upcoming All-Star Teams as well. He is the only Brazilian who managed to be included in so many All-Star Teams.
World Cup 1954 in Action
World Cup English