In fact, one of the finals is well-known; it happened with the “unbeatable” Golden Team in 1954, in Bern. There Hungary lost against West-Germany on a controversial match. The other one is less known even in Hungary though it happened only 16 years earlier.

1938: the world cup does not come to Hungary

In fact, this was the third of its kind held in France from 4 to 19 June. Interestingly, since the venue was not in Latin-America for the second time consequently,

Uruguay and Argentina did not enter the competition.

The host and the title holder (Italy) were automatically qualified. Thus, from the 14 remaining places 11 were given to Europe, 2 to the Americas and one to Asia. Though Austria qualified, because of the Anschluß they could not take part in the championship. Therefore, their first opponent, Sweden progressed directly to the second-round.

In fact, Hungary started the tournament well with a 6-0 against the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). This was followed by Switzerland’s 2-0 knockout which enabled Hungary to progress into the semi-finals. There the Hungarian team met Sweden who suffered a 5-1 defeat in Paris, Parc des Princes stadium.

The final took place in the Olympique stadium where

Hungary’s national team met Italy, the title holder.

The Italian team scored the first goal after which Pál Titkos managed to equalise. However, Italy quickly regained the lead eight minutes later with a goal from Silvio Piola. This was extended to 3 – 1 in the 35th minute. Even though Captain György Sárosi scored a second goal for Hungary it was only enough to reduce the deficit. Finally, in the 82nd minute Silvio Piola put Italy up 4–2. This meant that Italy retained the world cup.

Here you can watch the goals of the final on video:

1954: the Golden Team loses

In 1954 the tournament was hosted by Switzerland and the Hungarian Golden Team was the absolute favourite. After WWII

West-Germany was able to qualify again

while East-Germany refused to enter the competition. Furthermore, Argentina declined to participate again.

The Hungarian Golden Team easily won their group defeating e.g. the reserves of West Germany 8 to 3. However, after that very difficult matches waited. Firstly, they beat Brazil 4 to 2 in one of the most violent matches of the football History, which became infamous as the

“Battle of Berne.”

Brazil-Hungary goals and highlights:

Hungary’s semi-final became one of the most exciting games of the tournament since Uruguay led 1-0 even at the beginning of the second half. The score was 2-2 after 90 minutes and the deadlock was only broken by Sándor Kocsis who scored two goals.

After West German defender Werner Liebrich

injured Hungarian captain Ferenc Puskás

he was only able to play in the final, even though he was not fully fit. However, he managed to score after six minutes and with Zoltán Czibor adding another two minutes later it seemed that the place of the cup is decided. However, the Germans could turn the tide by half-time.

Tears and sorrow

In the second half the Hungarian team was struggling with misses. Rahn scored again in the 84th minute because of which

Hungarian reporter György Szepesi burst into tears.

The Hungarian Golden Team.

Puskás managed to equalize but the referee called offside. This meant that the Germans could bring the Jules Rimet Trophy home and Hungary missed another opportunity. Nobody was comforted by the fact that the top scorer was Sándor Kocsis while Ferenc Puskás became the best player of the tournament.

For the Hungarians,

the defeat was a disaster,

and remains controversial due to claimed referee errors and claims of doping. Unfortunately, since then Hungary was not able to play any world cup finals and since 1986 the country could not even qualify for the tournament.

Here you can see a video on the final in Bern:

Featured image: Hungary – England 1:7 in Budapest. Short after England’s second ever defeat on home soil, in Wembley on the ‘Match of the century’ (England – Hungary 3:6). Source:


1 comment
  1. The Hungarian team should be awarded the cup as the West Germans were on drugs. At least a star and footnote should acknowledge that the cheating team won.

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