It’s that time again! The greatest show on earth is upon us. Ahead of the Fifa World Cup in Russia, we look-back at the 20 tournaments before and the standout aspects from them.

The second edition, where home advantage mattered once again.

Italy 1934

Sixteen teams – 12 from Europe, three South Americans (though not the holders Uruguay) and one from Africa, Egypt – lined up for the finals, which were this time conducted purely on a knockout basis.

Host nation Italy, under the approving gaze of Mussolini, beat Czechoslovakia 2-1 in the final after extra-time.

The Czechs silenced the partisan 50,000 crowd when Antonin Puc scored with just 20 minutes of the match remaining.

They almost added a second when the ball struck a post before Argentine-born Raimundo Orsi scored a late equaliser for Italy.

Italy clinched their first World Cup title when Angelo Schiavio scored the winner in extra time.

Brazil and Argentina, multiple World Cup winners of the future, were both beaten in the first round, meaning they had travelled almost 10,000 miles for just one game.

One of the stories of the world cup was how Italian coach Vittorio Pozzo brought together two ‘rivals’ in his squad. This is how the Fifa.com archive describes it:

Luis Monti and Angelo Schiavio loathed one another – they had almost come to blows during Bologna’s South American tour in 1929 and had clashed repeatedly thereafter, culminating in the Juventus hardman violently stamping on his prostrate rival’s knee during a Serie A title showdown in 1932. Juve, who had been losing, won that match 3-2 and ultimately the Scudetto, and Schiavio labelled Monti “a criminal” – an almighty insult at the time. When they arrived at Italy’s pre-World Cup training camp by the Western Alps, Pozzo announced to a flabbergasted squad that Monti and Schiavio would be rooming together for the next two months!  

Stats and Trivia

  • Uruguay are the only holders of the trophy to not participate in the next edition. They were the most notable omission from the lineup of contenders, having declined to participate in retaliation for Italy’s refusal to travel in 1930.
  • Luis Monti has an incredible record to his name that is unlikely to be ever broken. When he won the trophy with Italy, he became the first and only player, to date, to compete in two World Cup Finals for different nations. He played for Argentina in 1930, before moving to Italy that year where he played for Juventus and became a citizen in time for the second world cup.
  • 9 minutes is all Italy were away from defeat in the 1934 Final – the closest a World Cup-winning side has been to missing out on the Trophy. The equaliser came in the 82nd minute, before Angelo Schiavio grabbed an extra-time winner.
  • 26: That’s how old Argentina’s manager Felipe Pascucci was when he led the team in 1934 – the youngest coach at a World Cup till date.
  • Egypt became the first African representatives on the world stage.
  • Giampiero Combi and Frantisek Planicka skippered Italy and Czechoslovakia respectively. What’s special? Till date, the only final to be captained by two goalkeepers.
  • Tournament top-scorer: Oldřich Nejedlý (5 goals) – Czechoslovakia
  • Total number of goals scored in the tournament: 70 (4.12 per match) 

For your viewing pleasure

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Official poster

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

With AFP and Fifa.com inputs