1950 and All That

For Brazilians and Uruguayans alike, one of the most unforgettable World Cup matches of all time was the final match of the 1950 World Cup.

Brazil were hot favourites to win the trophy for the first time in front of almost 200,000 fans at the newly built Maracana. But Uruguay silenced the home crowd with a stunning 2-1 victory.

Brazilians were sure the cup was theirs and defeat was so crushing that even today they refer to it as “our Hiroshima.” They were so traumatised that it was two years before they played another international match. To this day they have never worn the white shirt they used that day.

The scapegoat was goalkeeper Moacyr Barbosa. Barbosa was ostracised after the loss, even though he was voted the best keeper of the tournament. In his excellent biography of the keeper, Roberto Muylaert recalled how a mother once pulled her child away from him in a supermarket, telling him, “that’s the man who cost Brazil the World Cup.” Barbosa died poor in Rio de Janeiro after attempting to exercise the ghosts of the game by using the Maracana’s goal posts as fuel for a barbecue.

Curiously it was not the final per se, the only time the deciding match in the World Cup was not the final. Four teams – Brazil, Uruguay, Spain and Sweden – qualified for the final stage and they played each other on a round-robin basis. Brazil demolished Spain 6-1 and Sweden 7-1, while Uruguay had drawn 2-2 with Spain and overcome Sweden 3-2.

Brazil were odds-on favourites and needed just a draw against Uruguay to win the Jules Rimet trophy. They took the lead early straight after half time with a goal from Friaça. But Juan Schiaffino made it 1-1 in 66 minutes and with 11 minutes to go Alcides Ghiggia made it 2-1. History was made.

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8 Comments

Filed under Brazil, Uruguay

8 responses to “1950 and All That

  1. el choripan

    The pain continues to this day. The last time Brazil had a chance for true revenge by beating Uruguay at home in a major final was the 1995 Copa America. The result was 1-1 after extra time (goals by Túlio and Pablo Bengoechea), and Uruguay sneaked it 5-3 on penalties.

  2. Did I hear the commentator right during the last World Cup qualifier between Uruguay and Brazil in Montevideo that Uruguay have never lost a competitive match at home to the Brazilians?

  3. el choripan

    It all depends on what you term “competitive.” The only times Brazil and Uruguay have won in their opponent’s territory was in the Copa Rio Branco, some random competition between the two countries last played in 1976.

    The one exception, of course, was 1950.

    Excluding the Rio Branco, 10 games between the two have been played in Brazil, and the host has won 4, drawn 5 and lost 1. A further 9 games have been played in Uruguay, where the host has won 5, drawn 4, and lost none. So Uruguay’s “unbeaten” at home!

    The biggest drubbing? Uruguay beat Brazil 6-0 in Chile – in Copa America 1920.

    It’s all at http://www.rsssf.com

  4. On a population basis Uruguay have to be by far the most successful national side ever.

  5. el choripan

    Well, if we’re looking at this entirely unscientifically, looking just at world cups, copa americas, copa libertadores and intercontinental, then Brazil (current population 190 mln) has won one for every 5.8 million people and Argentina (pop 40 million) has won a cup for every 723,404 people. Uruguay (pop 3 million) has won a cup for every 100,000 people.

  6. Ahem, no contest.
    Which makes Fifa’s decision to name Real Madrid the team of the 20th century all the more ridiculous.

  7. andyelbolso

    And I’ll bet few people know that Uruguay also has the club side that has won the most FIFA-approved international club competitions. Nacional of Montevideo has won 21, though Boca is now perilously close with 20, and has the intercontinental cup to play for shortly.

  8. Pingback: No Goals Last Night So Some Brazil-v-Uruguay History « Latin Football World

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