1938 FIFA World Cup - Summary

Summary

Germany, France, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Cuba and Brazil were seeded for draw taking place in Paris, on 5 March 1938.

Five of the first round matches required extra time to break the deadlock; two games still went to a replay. In the replays, Switzerland ousted the team of Germany, to which some Austrian players had been added for political reasons, with a score of 4–2, while Cuba managed to advance to the next round at the expense of Romania. This remains, as of 2010, the only time in World Cup history in which Germany was eliminated in the first round, and the only tournament in which Germany competed but failed to finish in the final eight (the nation did not compete in 1930 and was banned from the 1950 competition).

Sweden advanced directly to the quarter-finals as a result of Austria's withdrawal, and they proceeded to beat Cuba 8–0. The hosts, France, were beaten by the holders, Italy, and Switzerland were seen off by Hungary. Czechoslovakia took Brazil to extra time in a notoriously feisty match in Bordeaux before succumbing in a replay; the South Americans proved too strong for the depleted Czechoslovak side (both Oldřich Nejedlý and František Plánička had suffered broken bones in the first game) and won 2–1. This was the last ever match to be replayed in a World Cup.

Hungary destroyed Sweden in one of the semi-finals 5–1, while Italy and Brazil had the first of their many important World Cup clashes in the other. The Brazilians rested their star player Leônidas confident that they would qualify for the final, but the Italians won 2–1. Brazil topped Sweden 4–2 for third place. It is notable that Sweden reached the final four having won only one match (as a result of Austria's withdrawal from the first round): the only time this has happened in a World Cup.

The final itself took place at the Stade Olympique de Colombes in Paris. Vittorio Pozzo's Italian side took the lead early, but Hungary equalised within two minutes. The Italians took the lead again shortly after, and by the end of the first half were leading the Hungarians 3–1. Hungary never really got back into the game. With the final score favouring the Italians 4–2, Italy became the first team to successfully defend the title and were once more crowned World Cup winners.

Because of World War II, the World Cup would not be held for another 12 years, until 1950. As a result, Italy were the reigning World Cup holders for a record 16 years, from 1934 to 1950. The Italian Vice-President of FIFA, Dr. Ottorino Barassi, hid the trophy in a shoe-box under his bed throughout the Second World War and thus saved it from falling into the hands of occupying troops.

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