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France vs Belgium Line Up

3rd Edition France 1938

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France was chosen as hosts by FIFA in Berlin on August 13, 1936. France defeated Argentina and Germany in the first round of voting. The decision caused outrage in South America where it was believed that the venue would alternate between the two continents; instead, it was the second tournament in a row to be played in Europe. This was the last World Cup to be staged before the outbreak of the Second World War.

Because of anger over the decision to hold a second successive World Cup in Europe, neither Uruguay nor Argentina entered the competition, while Spain became the first country to be prevented from competing by war.

It was the first time that the hosts (France) and the title holders (Italy) qualified automatically. Title holders were given an automatic entry into the World Cup until 2006 when this was abolished.

Of the 14 remaining places, eleven were allocated to Europe, two to the Americas, and one to Asia. As a result, only three non-European nations took part: Brazil, Cuba and the Dutch East Indies. This is the smallest ever number of teams from outside the host continent to compete at a FIFA World Cup. 

Austria qualified for the World Cup, but after qualification was complete, the Anschluss united Austria with Germany. Austria subsequently withdrew from the tournament, with some Austrian players joining the German squad (not including Austrian star player Matthias Sindelar, who refused to play for the unified team) Latvia was the runner-up in Austria's qualification group, but was not invited to participate; instead Austria's place remained empty, and Sweden, which would have been Austria's initial opponent, progressed directly to the second-round by default.

This tournament saw the first, and as of 2014 the only, participation in a World Cup tournament from Cuba and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). It also saw the World Cup debuts of Poland and Norway. Norway would not qualify for another World Cup finals until 1994, while Poland and the Netherlands would not reappear at a finals tournament until 1974.

The knockout format from 1934 was retained. If a match was tied after 90 minutes, then 30 minutes of extra time were played. If the score was still tied after extra time, the match would be replayed. This was the last of the two World Cup tournaments that used a straight knockout format.

Germany, France, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Cuba and Brazil were seeded for draw taking place in Paris, on 5 March 1938.

Five of the first round matches required extra time to break the deadlock; two games still went to a replay. In one replay, Cuba advanced to the next round at the expense of Romania. In the other replay, Germany was beaten 4–2 by Switzerland. This loss, which took place in front of a hostile, bottle-throwing crowd, was blamed by German coach Sepp Herberger on a defeatist attitude from the five Austrian players he had been forced to include; a German journalist later commented that "Germans and Austrians prefer to play against each other even when they're in the same team". This remains, as of 2010, the only time in World Cup history in which Germany was eliminated in the first round, and the only tournament in which Germany competed but failed to finish in the final eight (the nation did not compete in 1930 and was banned from the 1950 competition).

Sweden advanced directly to the quarter-finals as a result of Austria's withdrawal, and they proceeded to beat Cuba 8–0. The hosts, France, were beaten by the holders, Italy, and Switzerland were seen off by Hungary. Czechoslovakia took Brazil to extra time in a notoriously feisty match in Bordeaux before succumbing in a replay; the South Americans proved too strong for the depleted Czechoslovak side (both Oldřich Nejedlý and František Plánička had suffered broken bones in the first game) and won 2–1. This was the last ever match to be replayed in a World Cup. 

Hungary destroyed Sweden in one of the semi-finals 5–1, while Italy and Brazil had the first of their many important World Cup clashes in the other. The Brazilians rested their star player Leônidas confident that they would qualify for the final, but the Italians won 2–1. Brazil topped Sweden 4–2 for third place.

The final itself took place at the Stade Olympique de Colombes in Paris. Vittorio Pozzo's Italian side took the lead early, but Hungary equalised within two minutes. The Italians took the lead again shortly after, and by the end of the first half were leading the Hungarians 3–1. Hungary never really got back into the game. With the final score favouring the Italians 4–2, Italy became the first team to successfully defend the title and were once more crowned World Cup winners.

Because of World War II, the World Cup would not be held for another 12 years, until 1950. As a result, Italy were the reigning World Cup holders for a record 16 years, from 1934 to 1950. The Italian Vice-President of FIFA, Dr. Ottorino Barassi, hid the trophy in a shoe-box under his bed throughout the Second World War and thus saved it from falling into the hands of occupying troops.

Quick Facts
Teams: 15
When: 04 June 1938 to 19 June 1938
Final: 19 June 1938
Matches: 18
Goals Scored: 84 (average 4.7 per match)
Attendance: 375700 (average 20872)

 

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