A Look Back: When Uruguay Shocked Brazil in the 1950 World Cup

Road to the Final

Brazil were chosen to host the first World Cup after World War II and for four years, the country prepared for the spectacle.

With only 13 teams playing the World Cup, there were no knockout rounds. Instead, the winner of the tournament was to be decided by a second round-robin group stage consisting of the four group winners from the first round.  The four group winners were Spain, Brazil, Uruguay and Sweden.

As the tournament progressed, Brazil’s ecstatic showings meant they were the front-runners for the trophy.  They swept aside their opponents with relative ease, scoring 21 goals in their first five matches.

In the final four-team group, Brazil defeated Spain 6-1 and Sweden 7-1, while Uruguay only managed to draw Spain and defeated Sweden 3-2 after a late strike by Miguez.  Before the final group match between Brazil and Uruguay, the former had four points while the latter had collected three (2 points for a win, 1 for a draw).

Hence, Brazil needed just a draw to lift the trophy.

Presumptuous of Victory

On 15 July, São Paulo’s Gazeta Esportiva front-page headline was: “Tomorrow we will beat Uruguay.” Another newspaper, O Mundo, carried an image of the Brazilian players alongside the headline: “These are the World Champions.”

Shortly before the game, Angelo Mendes de Moraes said to the Brazilian players: “You, players, who in less than a few hours will be hailed as champions by millions compatriots! You who have no rivals in the entire hemisphere! You who will overcome any other competitor! You, whom I already salute as victors!”

Jules Rimet, the president of FIFA and the founder of the World Cup, had prepared a congratulatory speech for Brazil-in Portuguese.

No one in their wildest of imaginations, the Brazilians or anyone for that matter, expected Flavio Costa’s team to loss.

“To the Brazilian fans, the thought of a Uruguayan victory was unfathomable,” wrote Joshua Robinson of Wall Street Journal.  The match was to start at 3 pm, yet the entire stadium was full by 11 am. The atmosphere was euphoric, as described by Robinson.

Via Wall Street Journal:

“Millions of fans had flooded the streets of Rio de Janeiro’s northern neighbourhoods, surrounding the Estadio Mario Filho, better known as the Maracanã…The luckiest 200,000 among them had been allowed inside… They had smuggled in streamers and flares and drums. Carnival on the terraces. For hours, they danced and sang in the sun, long before a single player took the field. They had all come to Brazil’s new cathedral to soccer, purpose-built for this 1950 World Cup, to bask in their country’s proudest moment. Brazil was about to beat Uruguay and win its first World Cup. They knew it.”

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    • Carlos June 30, 2017

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