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.
Next up, when West Germany scripted one of the most glorious chapters in Fifa World Cup history...
“In the shadow of the Alps this was a mountain-sized upset...”
That’s how the Fifa archive describes West Germany’s triumph in 1954. It was called the ‘Miracle in Berne.’ If Uruguay’s win over Brazil in 1950 shook the Maracana, West Germany’s defeat of Hungary stunned the footballing world.
West Germany returned to the international fold nearly a decade after the end of World War II while Ferenc Puskas-inspired Hungary, who had handed England a historic 6-3 defeat at Wembley prior to the finals, were installed as favourites.
The 1950 group format (without a final) was abandoned, with a return to the group system followed by knockout quarter and semi-finals.
The ‘Magic Magyars’ demolished West Germany 8-3 in the opening round, adding to a 9-0 hammering of South Korea.
In the quarter-finals they beat Brazil 4-2 in an ugly tie marked by three red cards.
In the final they faced West Germany again and were soon 2-0 ahead through Puskas and Zoltan Czibor. But the Germans were level within ten minutes and claimed a shock winner five minutes from the end when Helmut Rahn scored his second goal to clinch their first World Cup triumph.
Many Hungarians blamed the brilliant Puskas for the deteat. He inisted on playing despite being unfit, having been injured in the group game against the Germans.
But nothing can take the sheen away from the moment that is forever etched in the mind of German football fans. As Fifa.com puts it:
Try asking a German football fan about Helmut Rahn’s decisive goal in the 1954 final and see how their eyes light up with enthusiasm as they reel off the classic commentary: “Rahn has to shoot from distance, Rahn shoots... Goal! Goal! Goal! Germany are world champions!” They are of course the famous words of German radio reporter Herbert Zimmermann, and to this day they still send a shiver down the spine of every fan from the German-speaking world.
Stats and Trivia
- 30 matches: That was how long Hungary’s unbeaten run extended before that famous final, a world record back then. The Magic Magyars were... magical for a reason, they were considered near invincible at that time. With Ferenc Puskas and his left foot leading their charge, they had won gold at the 1952 Olympics and were overwhelming favourites to lift the trophy.
- West Germany are the only team to win a World Cup final by recovering from more than a one-goal deficit.
- 12: Most goals scored in a single World Cup game. It was played between Switzerland and Austria where the hosts led 3-0 inside 19 minutes, conceded five during a ten-minute spell before the break and ended up losing 7-5.
- West Germany’s Fritz and Ottmar Walter became the first brothers to score at the World Cup. There have been 4 in history so far. Rene and Willy van de Kerkhof, Socrates and Rai, and Michael and Brian Laudrup are the others.
- 140 goals in 26 matches, with 5.4 goals a game: The most goal-filled tournament in World Cup history. West Germany’s average of 4.2 goals per game is the highest for a World Cup winning side but wasn’t even the highest of this tournament with Hungary going at 5.4
- ZERO: Number of teams that were unbeaten at Switzerland 1954 following West Germany’s upset of Hungary in Bern – the only time in World Cup history this has happened.
- Tournament top-scorer: Sándor Kocsis (11 goals) - Hungary
- Total number of goals scored in the tournament: 140 (5.4 goals per game)
For your viewing pleasure
Hungary vs Germany final
With AFP and Fifa.com inputs