Classic Matches of the World Cup

Uruguay are set to head to Brazil this summer in search of a first World Cup triumph since 1950, the year the team entered sporting folklore.

In 1950, Uruguay similarly travelled to Brazil for the World Cup but the format was very different to what it is today.

The finals without a Final

The 1950 winner was determined by a final group stage, with the final four teams playing in round-robin format, instead of a knockout stage as is customary in today’s competition.

Brazil actually topped the group phase to determine the winner heading into the final round of games, but they would have to face a fired up Uruguay team who sat just one point behind them in the standings.

The game in 1950 was effectively the World Cup Final, and what followed will forever hurt Brazilians and bring joy to Uruguayans. It was coined, the “Maracanazo” final – “the Maracana blow”.

During the final group stage Brazil had blown their previous opponents apart, defeating Sweden 7-1 and Spain 6-1.

Uruguay meanwhile had performed well without setting the tournament alight. They came from behind to secure a 2-2 draw with Spain before going on to beat Sweden 3-2 in a tight game.

For the final game, the top two would meet with Brazil set to be crowned world champions if they could avoid defeat.

It didn’t seem a Herculean task for Brazil, to make an overstatement.

Uruguay weren’t expected to cause Brazil any real problems and this was down to the fact that Brazil had destroyed Spain and Sweden while the Uruguayans had encountered difficulties against both.

A captain to remember

What happened next went against what everyone had expected, as Uruguay’s captain Obdulio Varela inspired his team-mates in a variety of very different ways.

According to reports, the captain bought a newspaper that had already declared Brazil champions on the front page and encouraged his team-mates to urinate on them.

He then, perhaps more conservatively, proceeded to inspire his team-mates by delivering a rousing dressing room speech before the game.

The game itself initially delivered what many had expected as Brazil attacked Uruguay in an energy-sapping first 45.

Shortly after the break Sao Paulo striker Friaca put Brazil into the lead, but the abrasive Varela was only served to be fired up even more by going behind.

Driving his team on, Varela helped Uruguay secure a famous victory as his team-mates Juan Alberto Schiaffino and Alcides Ghiggia scored two of the most famous goals in football history.

The win was accompanied by a deathly silence in the stadium, and caused a huge effect on the Brazilian national psyche, with the national team even changing their strip colours permanently.

The Maracanazo had been born, Uruguay had defeated a team but also a nation, with Juan Lopez’ men securing their status as world champions for a second time.

The legacy casts a shadow over 2014

The two-time winners face a big challenge to add a third World Cup to their honours this summer as they face a difficult trio of opponents in Costa Rica, England and Italy.

Costa Rica will prove a stern opening test for the Uruguayans but a win in Fortaleza could provide the impetus to go on and enjoy a great summer.

Uruguay are England’s second opponents at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, facing Roy Hodgson’s men on June 19 at Arena de São Paulo in São Paulo before finishing with the game against Italy.

How the Uruguayans would love to defeat England and Italy – two huge obstacles in their tough group – and get back to the scene of their famous triumph, The Maracana, in the later rounds of the tournament.

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