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World Cup 1958

Juste Fontaine (FRA)
Pelé (BRA)
Helmut Rahn (GER)
Peter McParland (NIR)
Vava (BRA)
13 goals
6 goals
6 goals
5 goals
5 goals
Number of games
Total goals scored
Average per game
Sendings off
Own goals
Total attendance
Average attendance


     The World Cup stayed in Europe. Sweden hosted it and for the first time, the tournament received international television coverage. None was to be disappointed as the tournament turned out to be the best so far. The format of the competition changed yet again. The 16 teams were split into four groups as in 1954, but now all the teams in the group played eachother. If teams tied for second and third place, the outcome was decided by a play-off. Thankfully, extra-time was not played in pool matches this time. The top two of each group progressed to the quarterfinals, and from then on it was knock-out competition. The teams were not seeded as in 1954, but each of the four groups contained one team from Western Europe, one from Eastern Europe, one from the United Kingdom and one from Latin America. England found themselves in a nightmare group with Brazil, Russia and 1954 bronze medalists, Austria. Hungary were no longer the force they were four years earlier. Leading players like Puskas, Kocsis and Czibor all left the country in 1956 when the Soviet Union invaded their country. The Soviets, on the other hand, entered the World Cup for their first time and were installed as one of the favourites. 

     This World Cup saw the emergence of the great Pelé. Brazil started the tournament without him though, but he was brought into the side after Brazil's match against England which ended 0-0. That was by the way the first ever goalless draw in a World Cup match! Brazil were the clear favourites to win the World Cup. they brought with them the innovative 4-2-4 system. It didn't take long until the rest of the soccer world employed the same formation. 

     Remarkable was the way Frenchman Juste Fontaine banged in goals.  France scored 11 goals in the groupstage and qualified easily for the quarterfinals. Host nation Sweden qualified as did Hungary from their group. Four British teams participated in this cup, and few would have expected that the two qualifying for the quarterfinals were Northern Ireland and Wales. England disappointingly and Scotland had to book the earliest possible flight home.

     The quarterfinals saw no surprises, the Germans predictably knocked out Yugoslavia, the hosts eliminated the Soviets, France with a sparkling Fontaine trashed a brave Irish team, while Pelé scored his first ever World Cup goal when Brazil beat Wales by a single goal.

     It was goals galore in the latest stage of the cup. The last four games in the cup saw 27 goals! Sweden beat West Germany in a tight semifinal, when the Germans were one man short the last 30 mins. Brazil finally stopped Fontaine & Co when Pelé scored a superb hat-trick in the 5-2 win. Fontaine added 4 more goals in the Bronzematch to take his tally to 13, the highest ever in World Cup history. Pelé and Brazil went on to beat the hosts in the final by 5-2. Read more about that match under the "Final" link in the left column.

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