It is impossible to talk about great soccer teams without mentioning the Hungary of the 1950s. Today, the Hungarian team will rarely appear among the favorites when it comes to the soccer Vegas odds, but the nation played a huge role in the history of soccer.
If the blessed 1954 World Cup had been in Hungarian hands, perhaps soccer in the country could be different nowadays. And if the political conflicts between Hungary and USSR hadn’t existed, maybe the country would have had the chance to hold on to its stars for longer.
Even without a World Cup title, Hungary made history. Puskás, Kocsis, Hidegkuti, and company put on so many shows, that soccer will never forget that stupendous team, nicknamed the Magyar Magicians, who innovated the sport with the “WW” formation (which would be the embryo of Brazil’s 4-2-4 in the 1958 World Cup) and stunned countless opponents (including Brazil), among them the superb England, who beat them six times at Wembley Stadium.
It’s time to remember the great history of Hungary and the 1954 World Cup.
The 1954 World Cup would be marked as the one with the highest goal average in history: an absurd 5.4 goals per game! That’s right! There were 140 goals in 26 games! This astronomical goal average was benefited, of course, by Hungary.
In the first round, two victories: 9-0 against South Korea and 8-3 against Germany. They scored 17 goals in two games. Surreal? Not for Puskás, Kocsis, and Hidegkuti, who were flying high at that World Cup.
In the quarter-finals, Hungary faced Brazil in a game that would become the most violent ever recorded in World Cups at the time and which became known as the “Battle of Bern”.
There were three red cards (all recorded in the World Cup, in a single match!) and a lot of fisticuffs. In the end, Hungarian soccer prevailed, beating Brazil 4-2.
In the semifinal, an epic game against Uruguay. The match was well fought, showing the quality of the Uruguayans and scaring the Magyars a little.
After a 2-2 draw in normal time, however, Hungary showed more power of precision and scored two goals: 4-2 to Hungary. The team was in the final. It was time for the coronation of the greatest squad on the planet. It was, were it not for the Germans…
After experiencing the “Battle of Berne”, Hungary had to witness another feat in the Swiss city – a miracle. The world’s most feared and formidable team inexplicably succumbed to Fritz Walter’s Germany and lost 3-2. How could a team like that, full of stars, lose a World Cup that was won? Several factors can explain it.
In the first round, Germany was beaten by Hungary, remember? Yes, but in that game the Germans spared five starters in the defeat to the Magyars, thinking about the next game. In other words, Hungary did not face the full strength of the Germans.
Another point was that in that first-round match, German defender Liebrich made a hard tackle on Hungary’s biggest star, Puskás. The player left the field injured in the first half, missed the following matches, and played the final “injured”.
Another point: Hungary came from a tough match against Uruguay, which was only decided in extra time, and was visibly tired. Germany, on the other hand, came from an easy 6-1 victory over Austria.
The last point: The final match was played under a deluge, a torrential downpour. This spoiled the touch-and-go soccer of the Magyars, and the strength and sturdiness of the Germans prevailed.
A small unproven point is that at halftime, with the match tied 2-2 and the Germans in the dressing room, Adi Dassler, founder of the Adidas brand, changed the cleats on the players’ boots so that they would slip less. True or not, the fact is that Germany was much better prepared for that game than the magical Hungarians.
It was Hungary’s first defeat after 32 matches, from June 1950 until the fateful July 4th, 1954. A record. The team also set the following records, still unmatched in World Cups:
- Most goals scored in a single Cup: 27 goals;
- Highest average number of goals scored in a single Cup: 5.4 goals per game;
- Highest goal difference in a single Cup: +17 goals;
- Top scorer with the highest average number of goals in a single Cup: Kocsis, with 2.2 goals per game – 11 goals in 5 games
Defeat in the final of a World Cup that had almost been won was a blow to Hungary. The team would never be the same again and never repeat the resounding success of 1954 and even earlier World Cups.
Players retired from the national team, and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the various conflicts in the country due to Soviet influence culminated at the end of the magic. Never again had the world seen a team as deadly in attack as that of Hungary.
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