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World Cup 1954

Sandor Kocsis (HUN)
Max Morlock (GER)
Josef Hügi (SWI)
Erich Probst (AUT)
11 goals
6 goals
6 goals
6 goals
Number of games
Total goals scored
Average per game
Sendings off
Own goals
Total attendance
Average attendance


    Switzerland was the obvious choice of venue for the fifth World Cup. FIFA's headquarters were in Zurich and 1954 marked the 50th anniversary of its formation. The Swiss had been granted the tournament at FIFA's first post-war congress in 1946, and they had spent eight years building new stadiums for the great occasion. They did not live up to their promise and were not really up to the organizational requirements of such a tournament. Nevertheless, the competition proved to be a financial success, despite the fact that most stadiums had small capacities. The tournament received limited TV coverage for the first time and the Swiss showed a piece of marketing know-how by having special commemorative coins minted.

     FIFA now had a new president, Rodolphe Seeldrayers of Belgium, and once more the governing body found it necessary to change the format, reverting to a pool and knock-out system. The 16 teams were divided into four groups with two teams in each group seeded. The two seeded teams, strangely enough, did not need to play eachother in the group. Also remarkable was that extra time was needed if the scores were level in the group matches!

     In this first World Cup held in Europe after World War II, Hungary were the new force to be reckoned with. They banged in goals with a frequence never seen before in a World Cup. They beat West Germany 8-3 and South Korea 9-0. Never has a team been a bigger favourite to win the cup than this. The world was introduced to players like Puskas, Kocsis, Hidegkuti and Czibor. Another team among the favourites was Uruguay. They still hadn't lost a match in World Cup history at this stage and their run continued also after the groupstage after beating Czechoslovakia and Scotland.

     The quarterfinal match between Austria and Switzerland brought a new World Cup record. Austria won 7-5, that's the highest number of goals ever in a World Cup match, it's still unbeaten. Uruguay beat England 4-2, and Hungary beat Brazil by the same score in one of the most brutal matches ever. It's later dubbed "The Battle of Berne", as three players got sent off and the fighting continued also after the final whistle. West Germany who had recovered  after they got trashed by Hungary in the first round, beat Yugoslavia.

     The semifinal between Hungary and Uruguay, who participated in a World Cup on European soil for the first time, is regarded to be one of the best ever in a World Cup. Hungary won 4-2 after extra-time and with that, Uruguay's unbeaten run was broken. The Germans had hit topform and trashed their neighbours Austria by 6-1 and the stage was set for a great final. Austria recovered quickly and surprisingly beat Uruguay and secured the bronzemedals. The final turned out to be dramatic. Hungary were leading 2-0 early on and everything looked safe, but then West Germany in well-known style pulled back both goals and scored a winner to win their first World Cup. Read more about the final by clicking on the "Final" link in the left column.

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