Blog Brazil 1950: Brazilian Maracanazo, glory for the Celeste!

A few hours from the start of the eagerly awaited (by whom?) Qatari football World Cup, there are already many predictions, prognostications, attempts to guess which team will be able to claim the title of World Champion and, as often happens, among the teams given as winners we find names full of history, charm and trophies: from Germany to France, from Spain to Holland, from Argentina to Brazil…
Yeah, Brazil: whoever wants to win the World Cup, sooner or later has to cross their destiny with that of the Verdeoros, who every four years present themselves with a fierce group of players, made up of globetrotting “veterans” and young promises already on the ramp launch. And yet, the relationship between Brazil and the World Cup has struggled to take off: the South Americans won only their sixth participation and, although they then recovered abundantly in terms of trophies won, history has also reserved burning and (almost) indelible disappointments for the Brazilians. This is the case of the World Cup held in Brazil in 1950, one of the strangest and most particular editions.

The World Cup Jules Rimet, President of Fifa from which the trophy takes its name, returns to the scene after the long 12-year break imposed by the Second World War. Not many countries are able to host such an event and the only candidate comes from Brazil. The organizers make stadiums and infrastructures available, but above all they want to take advantage of the warmth of the home supporters to push the Verdeoros to conquer their first victory in the world championship event. West Germany and Japan do not participate in that edition, held responsible for the disaster caused by the war and excluded at the table. Italy is invited as reigning champion and agrees to participate only because Fifa is responsible for paying all travel and accommodation expenses: the Italians, still shaken by the Superga tragedy of the previous year (in which they lost most of Grande Torino and therefore also 9/11 of the national team) decide to reach South America by ship and arrive after a trip that lasted three weeks, six days before the start of the tournament. There are however important players, such as Boniperti and Word.

During the journey, all the balls end up in the sea: the Azzurri’s training ends soon… Waiting for them is the match against Sweden, better prepared than in fact he wins 3-2 and immediately sends us home.

Scotland, France and Turkey decide not to participate at the last minute. The most singular exclusion concerns India: the Asians gain the opportunity to take part in the World Cup, but are left at home because they are used to playing barefoot, which is not allowed by the regulations. Indeed, in the qualifying round, the centre-forward Rohan suffered three toes and had to end his career prematurely. Fifa intervenes by canceling India’s participation, but no other Asian country is invited. Just like in 1930, only 13 teams give life to the tournament. Consequently, the composition of the groups is also somewhat particular.
Group 1 includes Brazil, Mexico, Yugoslavia and Switzerland.
Group 2 consists of England, Chile, Spain and the United States.
In group 3 three teams compete, Italy, Sweden and Paraguay.
Uruguay and Bolivia face off in group 4. The top team in each group is seeded.
In the next round, a second round robin is formed with the four group winners: for the first and last time, the world championship is awarded without a real final being played. England, in their first participation, lose to the United States and Spain and are eliminated. In the second round, Brazil and Uruguay qualify as expected, together with Spain and Sweden. The Verdeoros, who still play in a white suit with blue borders, annihilate the Iberians 6-1 and the Scandinavians 7-1, while Uruguay struggles: 2-2 with Spain, narrow victory 3-2 with Sweden.
The decisive match for the assignment of the title is therefore Brazil – Uruguay and for the former it is enough to draw.
The Brazilian newspapers, in the days preceding the decisive match, are already full of triumphant headlines, the photos of the home team are surrounded by bombastic sentences in defiance of superstition. In a few hours, 500,000 T-shirts with the inscription “Brasil Campeao 1950” are sold and on the streets of Rio the festive people seem to experience a sort of gigantic Carnival. The FCB, the Brazilian Football Federation, had the commemorative medals made to be given to the players, as a perennial reminder of the feat accomplished by the carioca heroes. Jules Rimet, the president of Fifa, has already written the speech to be given at the awards ceremony, obviously in Portuguese.. The team is strong, the three in front make the huge crowds of Brazilian fans dream: Jair, Zizinho and Ademir are acclaimed by the public, Ademir is also the top scorer with eight goals scored, four of which against Sweden.

But Uruguay is determined to sell dearly. After all, he already has eight South American titles on his bulletin board, two Olympics and won the historic first edition of the soccer World Cup, played on home soil in 1930. In the ranks of the Celeste, there are talents of the caliber of Varela, Ghiggia and Schiaffino.

The decisive match takes place on July 16 at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, the chronicles report a Verdeoro bedlam of over 200,000 fans, eager to push the home team to conquer the first title of World Champions!
The match seems just a formality, the celebrations have already started for hours… And the clash seems to take the right turn for the Brazilians, who attack with their heads down, while the Uruguayans defend themselves, sketching some counter-attacks and throwing long balls towards the attackers. The wait-and-see tactic of Celeste coach Juan Lopez seems to be paying off: the first half, albeit full of expectations, ended 0-0. At the start of the shoot, Friaca gives Brazil the lead: a collective euphoria takes over the stands, not just a team, but an entire population is one step away from Paradise (sporting, of course…)!!

At this point, the Uruguayan captain Varela plays on psychology and cunning: he engages in a five-minute discussion with the English referee Reader, asking for an offside (non-existent) on the Brazilians’ goal, to give his teammates time to recover physically and mentally. Once calm was restored on the field, it seems that the Captain uttered the famous phrase: “Now it’s time to win!”. When the game restarted, the Uruguayans applied the scheme they did best: ball on Ghiggia’s wing, long gallop and ball in the center of the area, where Schiaffino was waiting, class and elegance with human features.

In the 66th minute, the future AC Milan player scores on the fly: 1-1!
The result is still good for the Brazilians, sin the stands we continue to cheer and celebrate, but the carioca players feel the pinch and suddenly appear drained and without energy.
In the 80th minute, Ghiggia flies once again towards the Brazil area, but this time he decides to go it alone: ignores Schiaffino, who always waits for the ball in the center of the area, and slips between the post and goalkeeper Barbosa: 2-1 for Celeste!!

An unreal silence descends on the MaracanĂ , the final assaults by Ademir and his companions do not change the result and the Brazilian people have to swallow the cries of jubilation uttered until a few minutes before..

Goalkeeper Barbosa will be singled out as the main culprit of that national disasterso much so that his surname will be used as an insult in the daily talk of Brazilians. There has always been talk of dozens of suicides and heart attacks among green and gold fans, although there is no proven evidence of this. That day, known as the Maracanazo, it is still remembered today as one of the saddest events ever for Brazilians.

And the Uruguayans? They too struggle to rejoice, surrounded by so much desperation… Captain Varela will say in an interview that on the evening of the final, he went into a bar in Rio to have a drink and saw that “everyone was crying and I felt sorry for them..”.
The comment of the national hero Ghiggia was decidedly more pleased: “Only three people silenced the Maracana: the Pope, Frank Sinatra and me…”. Obviously, upon returning home, the celebrations begin in grand style for the conquest of the second World Cup in twenty years!!

Ghiggia and Schiaffino will land in Italy a short time later. The first will become a banner of Rome, arriving to play over 200 games for the Giallorossi, the second will be on the field with the Milan shirt and will go over 150 appearances.

Blog Brazil 1950: Brazilian Maracanazo, glory for the Celeste!