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 hosts Chile produced more than one miracle...

Chile 1962

The Great Chile Earthquake happened in 1960. Recorded as 9.5 on the Richter scale – the most powerful in history. It was near impossible that two years down the line, the country could hold a football world cup. The damage was just too much to repair.

‘We don’t have anything, we will do everything we can do to rebuild,’ was the rallying call on which Chile went on to successfully host the tournament in 1962. And to boot, the hosts stunned Italy and USSR on their way to the semi-finals and a third place finish.

Underdog story aside, foul play blighted a tournament which saw European teams adopt the defensive “catenaccio” style of play popularised at the time by Inter Milan. It led to a series of ill-tempered ties that overshadowed the finals and deprived the World Cup of Pele who hobbled out of the tournament in Brazil’s second match.

The tie between Chile and Italy became known as the Battle of Santiago, with two Italians sent off and police storming the pitch to restore order.

Even without Pele, Brazil were too much for England in the quarter-finals and dominated Chile in the semi-finals with Garrincha scoring twice before getting himself sent off. But so enamoured was the world with Garrincha’s performance in that world cup, that public outcry and pressure from the highest office in Brazil forced Fifa’s hand in overturning the ban for final. In a dour tournament overall, Garrincha emerged as a star eventually finishing as the joint top-scorer.

In the final, Brazil faced Czechoslovakia, who had reached that stage largely on the back of outstanding performances by their goalkeeper Jilhelm Schroiff.

Ironically it was Schroiff’s blunders in the final that helped Brazil to a 3-1 victory and their second successive trophy. Vava became the first player to score in consecutive finals.

Stats and trivia

  • Just four players have scored in two World Cup Finals, but only one has managed it in successive editions. That was Brazil’s Vava, in the process of helping Brazil to glory in 1958 and 1962. He had a knack of scoring at the big stage. Of his 15 goals for Seleção, spread over nine years, nine came at the World Cup.
  • Brazil created a World Cup record by using only 12 players throughout the whole tournament.
  • A stray dog twice interrupted the Brazil-England quarter-final, evading several players as they attempted to grab it. Garrincha, an animal-lover, was impressed that the dog “could dribble like me”, and adopted it.
  • The infamous Battle of Santiago, between Italy and Chile, typified what was a poor tournament, football-wise. “The match is universally agreed by observers as the ugliest, most vicious and disgraceful in soccer history,” observed the Mirror. “If you think that is exaggerating, watch the film on TV. But send the kids to bed first – it deserves a horror certificate!” The World Cup might have been won by the practitioners of Joga Bonito, but there was very little that was beautiful about the football this world cup.
  • No team since Vava and Garrincha’s Brazil in 1962 has been able to their defend the World Cup crown.
  • SIX: The top-scorer award of the world cup would have to be called three pairs of Golden Boots. Six different players finished top of the goal-scoring list with four goals each – the most in the tournament history. Four shared it in 2010. Garrincha, Vava (Brazil), Leonel Sanchez (Chile), Drazan Jerkovic (Yugoslavia), Florian Albert (Hungary), Valentin Ivanov (USSR) were the players.   
  • Tournament top-scorer: Six different players with four goals! See stat above.
  • Total number of goals scored in the tournament: 89 (2.8 goals per match)

For your viewing pleasure

Brazil vs Czechoslovakia, the final

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Official poster

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

With AFP and Fifa.com inputs