Uruguay v Brazil (1950 FIFA World Cup)

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Event 1950 FIFA World Cup
Date 16 July 1950
Venue Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro
Referee George Reader (England)
Attendance 173,850

Uruguay vs Brazil was the decisive match of the final group stage at the 1950 FIFA World Cup. The match was played at the Estádio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 16 July 1950. Unlike other World Cups, 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. With Brazil one point ahead of Uruguay going into the match, Uruguay needed a win while Brazil needed only to avoid defeat to claim the title of world champions.

Brazil took the lead shortly after half-time through Friaça, but Juan Alberto Schiaffino equalised for Uruguay mid-way through the half before Alcides Ghiggia hit the winning goal with just 11 minutes remaining in the match. The result is considered to be one of the biggest upsets in football history,[1] and the term Maracanazo (Portuguese: Maracanaço, pronounced [maɾakɐˈnasu], roughly translated as "The Maracanã Blow") first became synonymous with the match.


Positions before the final round
Team Pld W D L GF GA Pts
 Brazil 2 2 0 0 13 2 4
 Uruguay 2 1 1 0 5 4 3
 Spain 2 0 1 1 3 8 1
 Sweden 2 0 0 2 3 10 0

The road to the title in the 1950 World Cup was unique; instead of a knockout stage, the preliminary group stage was followed by another round-robin group. The final four teams were Brazil (host country and joint-top scorers from the group stage), Uruguay (who only had to play one match in their group, an 8–0 thrashing of Bolivia), Spain (who won all three of their group matches, against England, Chile and the United States), and Sweden (who qualified ahead of defending world champions, Italy, and Paraguay).

Brazil won both of their first two matches convincingly, beating Sweden 7–1 and Spain 6–1 to go top of the group with four points going into the final match. With three points, Uruguay were close behind in second place, although they had had to come back from 2–1 down to draw 2–2 with Spain, before beating Sweden 3–2, the winning goal coming just five minutes from time.

In the match between Sweden and Spain, Sweden needed a win to move ahead of Spain, and finish third in the World Cup. Spain would claim third place with a draw, or even a share of second with a victory, combined with a defeat for Uruguay, something not unlikely after Brazil had scored 13 goals in the two previous matches. The match between Brazil and Uruguay, on the other hand, would decide the title; a victory or a draw would grant Brazil the title, whereas Uruguay had to win the match in order to win the championship. The game is often listed as the 1950 World Cup Final, although strictly speaking this was not the case; it was merely the decisive match in the tournament.[2]

Anticipated celebration[edit]

The specialised press and the general public had already started claiming Brazil as the new world champions for days prior to the final match, and they had reasons to do so. Brazil had won their last two matches with a very attack-minded style of play against which all efforts had proved fruitless. Uruguay, however, had encountered difficulties in their matches with Spain and Sweden, managing only a draw against Spain and a narrow victory over Sweden. When those results were compared, it seemed that the Brazilians were set to defeat Uruguay as easily as they had dispensed with Spain and Sweden.

On the morning of 16 July 1950, the streets of Rio de Janeiro were bustling with activity. An improvised carnival was organised, with thousands of signs celebrating the world title, and chants of "Brazil must win!". This spirit never ceased, right up until the final minutes of the match, which filled the Maracanã stadium with a paid attendance of 173,830 but an actual attendance estimated to be about 210,000 (a record for a team sports match that remains to this day).[3]

How Uruguay prepared[edit]

The Brazilian newspaper O Mundo printed an early edition on the day of the final containing a photograph of Brazil with the caption "These are the world champions". Uruguay's captain, Obdulio Varela, bought as many copies as he could, laid them on his bathroom floor and encouraged his teammates to urinate on them.[4]

In Uruguay's locker room in the moments prior to the match, coach Juan López informed his team that their best chance of surviving the powerful offensive line of Brazil would come through adopting a defensive strategy. After he left, Varela stood up and addressed the team himself, saying "Juancito is a good man, but today, he is wrong. If we play defensively against Brazil, our fate will be no different from Spain or Sweden". Varela then delivered an emotional speech about how they must face all the odds and not to be intimidated by the fans or the opposing team. The speech, as was later confirmed, played a huge part in the final outcome of the game. In response to his squad's underdog status, the captain delivered the memorable line, "Muchachos, los de afuera son de palo. Que empiece la función ". ("Boys, outsiders don't play. Let's start the show").



The game began as form predicted – Brazilian attacks against the Uruguayan defensive line for the majority of the first half. Unlike Spain and Sweden, however, the Uruguayans managed to maintain their defence and the first half ended scoreless.

Brazil scored the first goal of the match only two minutes after the interval, with São Paulo forward Friaça shooting low past the goalkeeper. After the goal, Varela took the ball and disputed the validity of the goal to the referee, arguing that Friaça was offside. Varela drew out this argument intentionally, to the extent that he even forced the referee to bring out an interpreter.[citation needed] By the time the conversation ended, the crowd had calmed down, then Varela took the ball to the center of the field, and shouted to his team, "Now, it's time to win!"[citation needed]

Uruguay managed to take control of the game. When faced with a capable Uruguayan attack, Brazil showed their defensive frailty, and Juan Alberto Schiaffino scored the equaliser in the 66th minute. Later, Alcides Ghiggia, running down the right side of the field, scored another goal, with only 11 minutes remaining on the clock. The crowd was virtually silent after the second Uruguay goal until English referee George Reader signalled the end of the match with Uruguay winning 2–1. Former FIFA president and originator of the World Cup, Jules Rimet, commented about what happened, "The silence was morbid, sometimes too difficult to bear". The once roaring crowd of 200,000 people stood in disbelief as they were being "stripped" of a title they had already considered rightfully theirs.[citation needed]


16 July 1950
15:00 BRT (UTC-03)
Uruguay  2–1  Brazil
Schiaffino Goal 66'
Ghiggia Goal 79'
Report Friaça Goal 47'
GK 1 Roque Máspoli
RB 2 Matías González
LB 3 Eusebio Tejera
RH 4 Schubert Gambetta
CH 5 Obdulio Varela (c)
LH 6 Víctor Rodríguez Andrade
OR 7 Alcides Ghiggia
IR 8 Julio Pérez
CF 9 Omar Oscar Míguez
IL 10 Juan Alberto Schiaffino
OL 11 Rubén Morán
Juan López Fontana
GK 1 Moacir Barbosa
RB 2 Augusto (c)
LB 3 Juvenal
RH 4 José Carlos Bauer
CH 5 Danilo
LH 6 Bigode
OR 7 Friaça
IR 8 Zizinho
CF 9 Ademir
IL 10 Jair
OL 11 Chico
Flávio Costa


Final positions
Team Pld W D L GF GA Pts
 Uruguay 3 2 1 0 7 5 5
 Brazil 3 2 0 1 14 4 4
 Sweden 3 1 0 2 6 11 2
 Spain 3 0 1 2 4 11 1

Jules Rimet had already prepared a speech in Portuguese to congratulate the winners, whom he expected to be Brazil. The organisers of the World Cup left Rimet alone on the field, holding the trophy. There was no presentation ceremony for the Uruguay victory. Rimet had to call out for Varela in order to present him with the trophy. The Brazilian Football Confederation had made 22 gold medals with the names of the players imprinted on them (at that time, FIFA did not present medals to the winning team) which eventually had to be disposed of. A Brazilian victory song entitled "Brasil os vencedores" ("Brazil The Victors"), was composed several days prior to the final and was to be played in anticipation of a Brazilian win. The song was never performed.

In Brazil many newspapers refused to accept the fact that they had been defeated, famous radio journalist Ary Barroso (briefly) retired, and some distraught fans even went so far as to commit suicide.[6][7] The players of the time were vilified by the fans. Many went silently into retirement, while some others were never considered for the national team again. Unused squad members Nílton Santos and Carlos José Castilho were also members of the victorious Brazil squads in 1958 and 1962. Santos played in both finals whereas Castilho only played in the 1954 FIFA World Cup and in 2007 was posthumously awarded the 1958 and 1962 winning medals as a squad member.

Brazil decided to change the design of their national uniforms after the defeat since they considered it to be a jinx.[citation needed] Before the Maracanazo, Brazil's home shirt was white with a blue neckline along with white shorts; this was changed to a yellow shirt with a green neckline along with blue shorts and plain white socks with green as a secondary colour.

The 1950 FIFA World Cup is the only version of the tournament to be played with a round-robin final round, and as such is the only FIFA World Cup to date to not have a deciding knock-out final. As it was the last game of the tournament, and the result of the match directly determined the winner, the match has come to be commonly referred to as the final, including by FIFA itself. [8]

"Maracanazo" as slang[edit]

The term Maracanazo is often used as a slang word in Latin American football culture. It usually refers to the victory of an underdog playing in Maracanã stadium either against the Brazil national football team or against one of the so-called quatro grandes (Portuguese for the big four, referring to the four most popular teams in the city; namely Flamengo, Vasco da Gama, Fluminense and Botafogo).


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