On to Sweden 1958, with 16 Nations competing for the Jules Rimet Trophy the competition changed to a more conventional format than in 1954 with there still being 4 groups of 4 in the first round, with the only difference being that all teams in each group played each other once. Thereafter the top 2 teams in each group qualify for the quarterfinals. However if 2 teams were tied in 1st place on equal points goal difference would separate 1st and 2nd and if 2 teams had the same points finishing 2nd and 3rd a playoff would decide who would go through. This was the first World Cup since the death of the longest standing and most influential president of FIFA Jules Rimet.
Defending champions West Germany started their title defence with a 3-1 victory over Argentina with Helmut Rahn the match winner 4 years ago scoring twice again. At the same time Northern Ireland, who surprisingly beat Italy to qualify for the World Cup, beat Czechoslovakia 1-0. Argentina then kept their hopes of qualifying alive by beating Northern Ireland 3-1 while Germany and Czechoslovakia played to a 2-2 draw. In the final Group Game West Germany drew 2-2 with Northern Ireland to qualify top of the group and Czechoslovakia blasted Argentina 6-1 to force a playoff with Northern Ireland. In the playoff Northern Ireland again beat Czechoslovakia, this time 2-1 after extra time to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Before the world cup started English football was rocked by the famous Munich Air Disaster in February of British European Airways Flight 609 from Munich West Germany which had on board the famous Manchester United side known as the “Busby Babes” returning from a European Cup Match in Belgrade. Among the three internationals who lost their lives on the flight included young star Duncan Edwards. The Magical Brazilians got their campaign off to a good start with a 3-0 victory over Austria while England drew 2-2 with the USSR. Brazil and England then played to the first ever goalless game in World Cup History. USSR beat Austria 2-0 and England then drew 2-2 with Austria to force a playoff with USSR who lost 2-0 to Brazil. This game featured some great goalkeeping by Legend Lev Yashin to limit Brazil’s victory to 2-0. It also marked the first appearance of 2 of the tournaments best players Garrincha and a certain 17 year old Edson Arantes do Nascimento. In the playoff USSR beat England 1-0 as Lev Yashin again starred.
In the quarterfinals France & Fontaine continued their free scoring approach and whipped Northern Ireland 4-0 with Fontaine scoring twice. Goalkeeper Harry Gregg, a survivor of the Munich Air Disaster who starred in the group phase could not keep out the rampant French. The hosts Sweden then beat USSR 2-0 and defending champions West Germany beat Yugoslavia 1-0 thanks to a Helmut Rahn goal. This goal by Rahn was his 5th consecutive goal in World Cup Matches including the final in 1954. In the other quarterfinal Brazil beat Wales 1-0. The winner was the first goal in the World Cup for Edson Arantes do Nascimento better known as Pele.
In the Bronze Medal Match France beat West Germany 6-3 with Fontaine netting 4 more time to take his total to 13 goals for the tournament which is still a World Cup Record till today.
The final produced a full house attendance of just over 50 000 spectators to witness the hosts Sweden take on the brilliant Brazilians.
Before the match started Brazil insisted that the Swedish Cheerleaders be banned from the pitch as they felt it would give the Swedes an advantage as Germany felt it did in the semi-finals. The crowd watched in amazement as Sweden took the lead but Brazil’s dominance was too great and soon Vava scored 2 goals, both created by some Explosive Dribbling from Garrincha down the right, to give Brazil the advantage before Pele scored a brilli
ant goal and Zagallo added their 4th to ensure the title was safe. Sweden pulled a goal back before Pele added Brazil’s 5th with a powerful header to give Brazil their first World Cup Title (Picture of Captain Bellinni Lifting the Trophy). The 17 year old Pele was overcome with emotion after his & Brazil’s success (Picture Below). The 1958 World Cup Champions Brazil are recognised as one of the greatest teams of the World Cup with their superstars and new style of breathtaking football.