1954 Switzerland World Cup

Written by Sebastien on 12 December 2012. Posted in World Cup History


A tournament of idiosyncrasies

The stronger seeded teams playing only against the unseeded teams in their groups, group winners pitted against each other in the knock out stages, all time greatest scoring records, the Selecao playing in their now familiar yellow jerseys for the first time, a collection of exciting matches, all leading to an unfancied team winning the tournament by defeating the overwhelming favourites after trailing by two goals – this truly wonderful tournament was full of such novelties and surprises.

And what better setting to take it all in. The 1954 edition of the FIFA World Cup was held in the wonderland that is Switzerland, across 6 host cities. A total of 45 teams entered the tournament qualifiers out of which 16 made it through to the tournament, including the hosts Switzerland and the defending champions Uruguay who qualified automatically. There were competition debuts for Scotland, Turkey and South Korea. The group stage had 4 groups with 4 teams in each group. Apart from the stronger seeded teams playing only against the weaker teams, there were further quirks in store in the rule book.

In any group stage match, if the teams were level after 90 minutes, they had to play another 30 minutes extra time. If the score still remained level, then the match would be declared a draw.

Group 1 consisted of Brazil, Yugoslavia, France and Mexico with Brazil and Yugoslavia qualifying for the knockouts. Group 3 had Uruguay, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Scotland. Uruguay and Austria made through the group unscathed. England, Switzerland, Italy and Belgium formed Group 4 with England and Switzerland taking the top 2 positions.

The Magical Magyars

The tournament will always be remembered for the most exciting and gifted team of that generation: ‘The Magical Magyars’. Hungary arrived into the tournament as red hot favourites having won the 1954 Olympic title and unbeaten in 27 matches in the 4 years preceding the tournament. The team consisted of outrageously talented individuals like the forwards Zoltán Czibor, Sándor Kocsis (who ended top scorer of the tournament), midfielder József Bozsik and the winger Zoltán Czibor. However, the greatest of them all was the legendary figure of Ferenc Puskás who then played for the army team Budapest Honvéd FC.

Hungary was in Group 2 along with Turkey, South Korea and West Germany. They demolished opponents South Korea 9-0 in their opening match. Having won their first match, the German coach Sepp Gerberger took the risk of sending in a second string side against Hungary knowing that even losing the game could take them to the next round. Predictably, they were hammered by 3-8 but managed to defeat Turkey in the play-off to reach the quarters. Hungary defeated Brazil in their quarter final match 4-2 and followed it up with another 4-2 victory (after extra time) against Uruguay in the semi finals. West Germany went past Yugoslavia (2-0) and Austria (6-1) en route to the final. Uruguay were defeated in the 3rd place play off by Austria (1-3).

Das Wunder von Bern (The Miracle of Bern)

The final was held at Wankdorf Stadium, Bern. The stage was set for a rematch of the contest between overwhelming favourites Hungary and the underdogs of West Germany. And it didn’t disappoint. There were doubts regarding the fitness of Puskas who had suffered injury when the two teams met in the group stage and had missed the matches since. But he made it to the final eleven. West Germany fielded their strongest team led by their captain Fitz Walter. The match was played in soaking wet conditions which was supposed to favour the Germans who sported Adidas footwear designed to withstand all weather conditions, something unheard of at that time. The match started with a bang with Ferenc Puskás giving the Hungarians the lead within 6 minutes. Zoltán Czibor doubled the lead two minutes later. But the Germans hit back with goals from Max Morlock and Helmut Rahn and the scores were level after a mere 18 minutes. It was a whirlwind start to the final and both teams missed several chances to take the lead. German goalkeeper Toni Turek pulled off some terrific saves to keep the Hungarians at bay in the second half and Helmut Rahn scored his second goal of the game with six minutes remaining to put West Germany ahead. But there was still time for a Puskas goal to be ruled out for offside. When the whistle blew, one of the biggest upsets in football history was confirmed. West Germany who were returning to mainstream football (after a lengthy ban after World War 2) had defeated arguably the greatest team in football history. It was a miracle, indeed.


Get our newsletter!

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive all our updates with useful articles, information and all you need to know for Brazil 2014 World Cup!

Strategic Partners

Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/firstide/public_html/ on line 31