The first truly peacetime World Cup in twenty years had its parallels with the previous one. Held in South America, only thirteen teams taking part, a league system and a strong host team. There was no provision for an actual final -- but one materialised all the same, and perhaps the most eviscerating of all.
The qualifying competition turned into something of a travesty with teams qualifying then withdrawing. India withdrew because FIFA would not let them play in bare feet. Uruguay were back in the fold but having a mixed year and Argentina pulled out yet again. France too turned down an invitation, as did Turkey while Germans were still banned by FIFA. So only 13 teams participated in the final tournament.
England, who arrived as one of the favourites, were stunned 1-0 by the United States and never recovered, losing again to Spain and exiting the tournament in miserable fashion.
Another first round surprise was the failure of holders Italy to progress, although they had been crippled by the loss of 18 players from the great Torino team killed when their plane, travelling from Lisbon, ploughed into the Superga church near Turin.
The hosts satisfied their eager supporters and finished top of a challenging group that featured Yugoslavia, Mexico and Switzerland, while Spain, Sweden and Uruguay (whose only first round opponent was Bolivia) also advanced to the final group phase.
Brazil hit 13 goals in their next two matches, many of them scored by Ademir and Chico. The winner of the title would be decided in the final match between Brazil and Uruguay.
Brazil, in front of the biggest crowd ever at the iconic Maracana Stadium to watch a football match, were overwhelming favourites needing only a draw to clinch the title but there were signs and omens. The 1930 champions were made of stern stuff however and held firm in the face of relentless early Brazil pressure.
The first goal did not arrive until after half time. With the Uruguayan defence drawn to the left, Ademir's reverse pass sent Friaca clear on the right and he scored with a bobbling cross shot that Maspoli might have stopped. It was pandemonium as the whole stadium erupted.
Stunned into action, Juan Alberto Schiaffino of Uruguay then silenced the crowd with a blistering shot that gave Barbosa no chance and levelled the scores with 24 minutes left. The moment was described by Brazil coach Flavio Costa as-- "Silence in the Marcana" as the whole stadium was shocked into quiet.
The visitors could now sense victory and surged forward in search of the winner, which arrived in the 81st minute. Ghiggia worked a one-two with Perez down the right side and when he finished his run with a powerful shot to beat Brazil goalkeeper Barbosa, who was out-of-position and expecting cross instead. The whole of Brazil went into mourning.
Uruguay though, went into wild celebrations and were world champions twenty years after their initial triumph.
FACTS & FIGURES
Leading Scorer: Marques Ademir (BRA)--7