Switzerland 1954 World Cup
The FIFA World Cup returned to Europe for its fifth installment and was awarded to Switzerland. For the first time in World Cup history the TV cameras were present and special coins were minted to commemorate the occasion. Sixteen teams qualified and were divided into four groups of four. Each group contained two seeded teams and two unseeded teams. The seeds were not to play each other and the same applied for the unseeded teams.
The top two sides in the group would progress to the quarter finals which were then staged in a knock out format. Losing 1950 finalists Brazil were drawn in a group with Yugoslavia, Mexico and France. A five nil opening win over Mexico gave the South American’s the perfect start. This was followed up with a draw with Yugoslavia as Brazil booked there spot in the quarter finals. The unseeded Europeans caused an upset by knocking out France to join the South Americans. The top two teams in group one were joined by Hungary, West Germany, reigning champions Uruguay, Austria, England and host nation Switzerland after a replay with two time champions Italy.
The mighty Magyars of Hungary were ruthless in their demolition of their group opponents West Germany and Turkey racking up seventeen goals in the two games including a nine nil demolition of the Turks. The Hungarians had assembled one of the greatest sides in footballing history with legend Ferenc Puskas, the galloping major, as its superstar.
In the quarter finals the Brazilians were paired with the European powerhouse and succumbed by four goals to two in one of the most violent matches in World Cup history. Dubbed the “Battle of Berne” the Hungarians were two goals up within the first seven minutes and had ultimately broken the resolve of Brazil and progressed to a semi final meeting with reigning champions Uruguay. After a closely fought ninety minutes the score was tied at two apiece. The deadlock was finally broken by another of Hungary’s stars, Sandor Kocsis, scored two late goals to send the Magyars through to a semifinal meeting with Uruguay. In the other quarter finals, defending champions Uruguay eliminated England, West Germany beat Yugoslavia and Austria beat neighbours Switzerland seven goals to five in the highest total amount of goals scored in a single game.
In the semifinals, eastern European power Hungary eliminated Uruguay. The Magyars were one goal ahead at half time and were two in front a minute into the second half. The Uruguayans weren’t defending champions for no reason and leveled the score with only four minutes remaining. In extra time, the Hungarians were simply too strong and Kocsis once again netted a brace to break the resolve of the South Americans. In the second semifinal, the West Germans also led by two goals only for Austria to hit back to reduce the deficit by one. The Germans then added a further four goals to set up the final with Hungary.
In the group stage the Hungarians had destroyed the German’s by eight goals to three and were widely tipped to run out winners. On a thirty two match unbeaten run it appeared that it would become thirty three after Puskas, despite not being one hundred percent fit put the favourites one goal to the good after only six minutes, a lead which was doubled two minutes later. The Germans managed to turn the tie on its head by tying the scores with only twenty minutes gone. In the second half, the Hungarians had some telling misses and the Germans began to sense that an unlikely victory was possible. With only six minutes remaining the Germans found the net a third time and with Puskas having a goal ruled out for offside time and luck ran out for the eastern Europeans and West Germany won their first ever World Cup. So unlikely was the victory in the final, that the match is fondly remembered in Germany as “The Miracle of Bern”
Goals: 140 (average 5.4 per game)
Attendance: 889 500 (average 34 211)
Golden Boot Winner: Sandor Kocsis (Hungary) 11 goals