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1934 World Cup: The Birth Of A European Footballing Giant

Closely watched by dictator Benito Mussolini, Italy fulfilled the double mission of projecting itself onto the international and political stage by winning the 1934 World Cup. The second World Cup organized by FIFA triggered the interest of 32 national teams.

Therefore, for the first time, teams had to qualify. Despite being the host nation, even Italy had to qualify for the tournament, playing a preliminary round against Greece. The most significant absence was that of the 1930 winners.

Austrian national side celebrating at the FIFA world cup 1934
Austrians Celebrating A Victory At The 1934 World Cup

Title Holders Refused To Defend

Uruguay decided not to defend its title, which would never happen again in World Cup history, in protest of the Italian boycott of the edition four years earlier.

At the technological level, one of the significant innovations was the live radio broadcast of the matches in 12 countries. With the ball rolling, Europe’s supremacy became evident. The eight teams that made it through to the quarter-finals were all from Europe.

All matches in the tournament followed knock-out stage rules. The 16 teams that qualified for the final stage played one match. Suppose the game ended in a draw, extra time. If the stalemate persisted, they would play a new game the next day.

1934 FIFA world cup logo

Italian Journey During 1934 World Cup

In the final match of the 1934 World Cup, in front of a crowd of 50 thousand people, Raimondo Orsi and Angelo Schiavio scored Italy’s goals. It was part of a comeback that earned them the title.  Czechoslovakia took the lead in the 81st minute. However, the Italians managed to draw level and turned things around in extra time to win the title.

Italy put on a consistent campaign. They were responsible for the tournament’s most convincing win in their first match, beating the United States 7-1. In the quarter-finals, they needed two games to get past Spain. The first match finished 1-1.

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The Italians won the second game 1-0, amidst many complaints from the Spaniards about supposedly badly disallowed goals.

In the semi-final, the Italians beat Austria 1-0. Their opponents were known for their offensive strategy and short passes. However, some say Saint Peter lent Italy a helping hand, as it rained a lot during the match, leveling out both teams.

1934 brazil team
1934 Brazil World Cup Team

Brazil Makes The Same Mistake Again

Without holders from Uruguay, it was left to Brazil and Argentina to represent South America in the 1934 World Cup. Both countries, which would become great footballing powers, played nothing more than supporting roles.

The Argentinians lost 3-2 to Sweden in their first match, and the Brazilians lost to Spain. Argentina did not have any players who had played for them in 1930. Several players had changed sides and adopted Italy as their home nation, the country of origin of many players’ families. One of them, midfielder Luisit Monti played an essential role in Italy’s title.

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Brazil repeated the unsuccessful setup of the previous World Cup. Football directors from the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo did not resolve their political differences, and the team, which had to travel 15 days on a ship to Italy, did not manage to get through the first match, losing 3-1 to Spain.

This was Brazil’s worst performance in World Cup history. This time the problem was a disagreement over whether professional players should be used.  The Brazilian Sport Confederations (CBD) disagreed with the level of professionalism adopted by many of their counterparts in São Paulo.

Ultimately, Brazil ended up fielding a team with players mainly from the Rio de Janeiro State, with nine players from Botafogo. They trained only once before their first match of the 1934 World Cup. Leonidas da Silva scored Brazil’s only goal at that tournament and began building his career with the national side.

Leônidas Da Silva doing a bicycle kick
Leonidas da Silva

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