1954 FIFA World Cup Final
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The Wankdorf Stadium held the final
|Event||1954 FIFA World Cup|
|Date||4 July 1954|
|Venue||Wankdorf Stadium, Bern|
|Referee||William Ling (England)|
The 1954 FIFA World Cup Final, also known as the Miracle of Bern, was the final match of the 1954 FIFA World Cup, the fifth FIFA World Cup. The match was played at the Wankdorf Stadium in Bern, Switzerland, on 4 July 1954. The game saw the underdogs West Germany beat the largely favoured Hungary 3–2. It was one of the biggest underdog wins in FIFA World Cup history.
Pre-final team status
Hungary were favourites to win the 1954 Tournament. In the five years prior, including those played at the World Cup itself, they had remained unbeaten in 31 games (32 if counting a match against East Germany in 1952, that is not considered an official international for that team). They were also reigning Olympic Champions and winners of the Central European International Cup in 1953. In 1953 they had defeated England 6–3, becoming the first team outside the UK and Ireland to beat them on home soil, and had thrashed England 7–1 in Budapest just before the World Cup.
Hungary and West Germany had already met in the group stage, with Hungary winning 8–3. In the game, Hungarian captain Ferenc Puskás suffered a hairline fracture of the ankle and subsequently missed the next two games; even without him, Hungary beat Brazil (the previous World Cup runners-up) and Uruguay (the World Cup holders) in the quarter-final and semi-final respectively.
Puskas was still not fully recovered by the final, but manager Gustav Sebes selected him anyway.
The Hungarians' emphatic 8–3 victory over West Germany in the group stages was seen as a firm indication of the likely final scoreline. From a statistical perspective, no team in the history of international football held a higher Elo rating than the 1954 Hungarian World Cup team until Germany in 2014.
After the Second World War, the three resulting German states (West and East Germany and the Saar) were not allowed to compete in the 1950 World Cup; as a consequence, the qualification games for the 1954 World Cup were the first return of West Germany national squad to international competitions.
In the 8–3 group game loss to Hungary, German coach Herberger fielded a reserve team. By sparing his strongest eleven players until the final, Herberger managed to obscure the real strength of the German team. As a result, the Hungarians likely underestimated their opponents.
The match was played in heavy rain, weather conditions the German side had christened "Fritz Walter-weather", as the German team captain Fritz Walter was known for playing his best football under those conditions. In addition, the Germans were equipped with footwear supplied by Adidas, which had produced a previously unknown design of boot with exchangeable, screw-in studs that could be adapted to any weather. This enabled the German players to wear their regular boots despite the adverse weather.
Although he was not fully fit in time, Ferenc Puskás was back in the Hungarian lineup for the final match, and he put his team ahead after only six minutes. When Zoltán Czibor added the second goal for Hungary a mere two minutes later, the pre-tournament favourites seemed destined to ease to victory over West Germany, just as they had in the group stages.
However, West Germany equalised quickly, with goals from Max Morlock (10') and Helmut Rahn (18'). Having leveled the scores, the Germans now looked a match for the Hungarians and managed to reach half time at 2–2, with both teams having missed several promising chances to take the lead. In the second half, the Hungarians poured forward looking to retake the lead, but their attempts were repeatedly foiled by the German defence, with goalkeeper Toni Turek pulling off several fine saves.
With six minutes left, German striker Helmut Rahn scored West Germany's third goal. Two minutes before the end, Puskás appeared to equalise once more, but he was ruled offside by the Welsh linesman Benjamin Griffiths. The match and Hungary’s unbeaten run ended in one of the biggest upsets in the history of football.
4 July 1954
Rahn 18', 84'
Immediately after the match, rumors arose that the German team had been injected with performance-enhancing substances. Several members of the team later fell ill with jaundice, presumably from a contaminated needle. Members of the team later claimed that these had been glucose injections. The team physician Franz Loogen said in 2004 that the players had only been given Vitamin C injections before the game.
A member of a 2010 study conducted by the University of Leipzig claimed that the victorious German national squad may have been injected with Pervitin (methamphetamine) prior to the match, but believed to be given Vitamin C. The study itself, entitled "Doping in Germany", does not cover the 1954 World Cup.
Impact on German history
The unexpected win evoked a wave of euphoria throughout Germany, which was still suffering in the aftermath of World War II. This was also the first time since the Second World War that the German national anthem was played at a global sporting event. The 1954 victory is regarded as a turning point in post-war German history by German historians Arthur Heinrich and Joachim Fest.
As television was only available to few homes or public places in Germany, German radio commentator Herbert Zimmermann became a popular German personality due to his reports. His emotional reporting style ("Halten Sie mich für verrückt, halten Sie mich für übergeschnappt" – "call me crazy, call me mad") and especially his comments when West Germany scored the winning goal ("Aus dem Hintergrund müsste Rahn schießen, Rahn schießt – TOR, TOR, TOR, TOR!" – "Rahn should shoot from deep, Rahn shoots – goal, goal, goal, goal!"), and after the final whistle ("AUS! AUS! AUS! AUS! Das Spiel ist aus. Deutschland ist Weltmeister, schlägt Ungarn mit 3 zu 2 Toren im Finale in Bern!" – "Over! Over! Over! Over! The game is over! Germany are World Champions, beat Hungary by 3 to 2 goals in the final in Bern!") are well known in Germany.
Germans felt a mixture of post World War II guilt and anger as they regarded the Nazis as seducers of their patriotic feelings. Additionally there was no one outside Germany who promised empathic understanding to someone who was called "German". Even in Germany it was difficult to talk about World War II as it was not clear who was involved in which crime and as the individual wartime experiences and personal losses varied. So the common way to get along with being German and feeling both guilt and anger was silence. This pressure found an outlet by psychological projection (Heroes of Bern, Miracle of Bern) and Herbert Zimmermann's reporting style cleared the way for this outlet.
- Wessel, Markus. "Hoch gepokert und gewonnen" (in German). ARD. Archived from the original on 2009-09-03. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
- Video clip on YouTube
- "Das Wunder von Bern: Tor-Rekord und Doping-Verdacht". sueddeutsche.de (in German). 3 May 2014.
- "Erzürnte Weltmeister: "Vitamin C, sonst nichts"". Spiegel Online (in German). 31 March 2004.
- "Researcher raises doping spectre over 1954 WCup". USA Today. 26 October 2010. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
- "Das Trauma von Bern: Die unbekannte Seite des legendären Endspiels" (in German). Norddeutscher Rundfunk. 22 February 2004. Archived from the original on 2009-09-03. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
- Heinrich, Arthur. "The 1954 Soccer World Cup and the Federal Republic of Germany's Self-Discovery" (PDF). Sage Publications. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Montague, James (13 January 2011). "Five games that changed the world". CNN. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
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