The World Is A Ball: A World Cup Timeline

Chapter XXXIII
Chapter XXXIII - It's Raining Goals

Group 1

Given the profusion of stadia within Mexico City in use, the scheduling was built in such a way that no more than two matches were played in any given day on the capital, and the tradition of the opening match being the debut of the host was reinstated, so Russia and Mexico would open the tournament, with the match also serving as the official inauguration of the Azteca stadium. Impelled by the nearly 70,000-strong crowd, Mexico went on the offensive for almost the entire match, but the star of the match was the Russian keeper, Lev Yashin, who had only entered the team because the starting keeper, Leonid Ivanov, had injured himself during training. On one of his best World Cup performances, Yashin held the Mexicans in check all through the first half and most of the second, and only conceded one goal - a indefensible shot from José Luis Lamadrid early in the second half. In contrast, the Russian attack proved itself too slow and could do little on its own part. But despite all the wasted chances, Mexico had finally won a World Cup match after 32 years.

The next day, France and England played at Toluca. That Cup was the first one in which players would have fixed jersey numbers, with the criteria for numbering to be defined by the individual delegations. Whereas Mexico, Russia and England had organized theirs basing themselves on the presumed starting team, France decided theirs by sorting numbers by position, with the keepers getting the first three numbers and the forwards receiving the final ones. In any case, England was the better team on the first half, opening the score with Tommy Taylor with a penalty kick at 37 minutes, while Nat Lofthouse had wasted a great opportunity after dribbling Ruminski beforehand. France came back with a stronger attacking disposition after the break, but saw Léon Glovacki waste multiple chances, while Ben Barek, by now nearly 37 years old and not even in the usual starting team, did very little of note. and soon England began asserting itself - at 75 minutes, Finney scored from close range after a short pass left him unmarked, then after that hit an overhead kick which Ruminski tipped over the bar. France would have a further loss for the next match after defender Jonquet broke his nose six minutes from the end.

Three days later, France faced Russia, with both teams having mad a fair number of changes, with Jacques Grimonpon coming in the injured Jonquet's place, plus Glovacki and Ben Barek giving way to Roger Piantoni and Raymond Kopa, while Russia changed their entire forward line. That seemed to improve both teams' offensive performance, but France was slightly better in the first half, and besides Kopa's goal, imperiled Yashin's goal in other occasions. However, shortly before the break, Anatoli Ilyin equalized for Russia. The Russians took the momentum into the second half and took the lead within one minute, with Nikita Simonyan, but France got itself together soon enough and equalized with Jean Vincent at 63 minutes. France dominated the match in the final minutes, but the most dangerous chance in the last minutes was from Sergey Salnikov, whose shot was tackled by Roger Marche on the line.

In the next day, England faced Mexico. the hosts managed a very early goal, with Tomás Balcázar scoring after a scramble in the penalty area, but were overwhelmed soon enough. Broadis squeezed in the equaliser before colliding with the onrushing Mota, then Lofthouse jerked himself at a cross from Taylor and headed in. In the second half Broadis hit Matthews’ deflected cross so hard it bent the keeper’s wrist on the way in. And Mota had to make some really brilliant saves. But England still hadn’t solved their old problem at center-half, where Owen was now limping. Balcázar ran past him to pull a goal back, then three minutes later, Merrick failed to hold a shot by Naranjo, and Mexico held on to the tie until the end.

Three days later, England faced Russia at Puebla, needing at least a tie to qualify, while Russia needed to win by at least two goals' difference. Winterbottom, unable to count with Matthews, who had injured his toe in the previous match, Owen, and Lofthouse, who had come down with a throat infection, made a series of changes that could have cost him dearly - first, he moved Billy Wright into the center-half, moved Finney to the right wing and bet on Wolverhampton's left wingers, Mullen and Wilshaw. It worked. In a match played at a 31-degree[1] heat, England scored one goal in each half, with Mullen and Wilshaw, and practically guaranted its qualification in first place.

The next day, Mexico played against France, with the latter now needing to win by two goals' difference to advance. So, unsurprisingly, they went on the offensive. 19 minuts in, Jean Vincent ran in from the left before virtually toe-poking the ball across Carbajal, then, shortly after the break, Dereuddre’s cross-shot from the right was turned in by Cárdenas at the near post. After that, Mexico woke up and went on the attack themselves. Lamadrid ran through to push the ball past Ruminski as he came out, and five minutes from the end, Balcázar equalized with a low shot from near the edge of the area. France still continued trying to attack and came close to the third three minutes later, when Vincent got loose in the Mexican area, with only Narciso López in front of him. He shot and López threw himself to the ground to stop the ball, the ball hitting his ribs then appearing to touch his arms as it settled under his body. The French tried to claim a penalty, but to no avail. Mexico was on the quarterfinals.

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Group 2

The first match of the group was more of a sparring match for Hungary than any serious matchup. nobody expected Curaçao to be any trouble, but having only one week to adapt to the Mexico City altitude when every other team had been there for two or three weeks, they proved themselves so poorly conditioned they could barely do any fouls to stop the Magyar attack - only five were recorded the entire match (one of them was converted into a goal by Lantos). In the other hand, Hungary didn't commit any fouls during the 90 minutes - a record that hasn't been equaled since - and Kocsis scored his first three goals on that tournament, while Hungary equaled Argentina's record win from 1946.

The next day, Brazil faced Germany at Parque Necaxa, in which turned out to be a high-level match, with Germany's style of short passes and collective play being a fair match for Brazil's more individual and improvisionalist style. Early in the match, Rodrigues injured himself and left Brazil in a numerical disavantadge. As such , with one man down, the 0x0 at the break seemed to be a good result for Brazil. Early in the second half, Hans Schäfer moved into the center of the attack, received the ball from Fritz Walter and scored with a low cross-shot from outside the penalty area. To the Brazilians' relief, Didi equalized at the 69th minute with one of his venomous long shots, and soon after, Klodt would also injure himself and leave both teams equal in numbers. In the last minute, the Brazilians would complain of a decision by referee Faultless, who supposedly had marked a clear penalty as a foul.

After the disastrous first match, Curaçao seemingly had improved slightly, but the difference was academical, since it still lost. this time by only 5x0. Baltazar scored the first after trading passes with Pinga, Didi curled one of his speciality free kicks just inside the foot of a post, Pinga scored with a header and drove in a rebound later on. All of that in the first half. The second half would be slower, but early on, Ergilio Hato, the star of the Curaçao team, made a marvellous save from Julinho, who later beat two men (one with a drag-back) before scoring with a low cross-shot that went in off a post.

The next day, Hungary faced Germany. both teams had made some changes, with Hungary making three changes (Szojka for Zakariás, Kubala for Budai, and Palotás for Hidegkuti), while Germany made two (Mai for Mebus and Klodt for Rahn), Germany hoped they could snatch a tie and come with an greater advantage for the match against Curaçao, but were already 3x0 down (two from Kocsis and one from Puskás) within the first 21 minutes. In one of their innovations, before the start of the match, the Hungarians exercised on the sides of the pitch. With this warming-up, they went in as if they had been playing for several minutes, caught the opponents still cold and usually scored once or twice within the first minutes. Fritz Walter pulled one back for Germany at the 25th minute, and Germany improved in the final minutes of the first half, but the 3x1 remained at the break. But soon after the return, Mebus caught a injury and left Germany with one man down and a even more difficult situation. Hungary quickly took advantage of that to score another three times within 20 minutes, twice with Hidegkuti and another third from Kocsis and killed any German hopes for a tie. Soon after that, Puskás fell the wrong way after a tackle from Laband, and had come off the pitch with a sprained ankle. With the two teams level and the match already won, Hungary slowed down considerably and gave Germany enough space for them to score twice with Rahn in the final minutes, but the result still was disastrous for Germany's goal average.

Three days later, Brazil would face Hungary. Two days before the match, Zezé Moreira started experimenting on the attack, testing alternatives for the normal attack. Nobody expected Baltazar (who had scored six times in the last six matches) to go out of the team, but that's exactly what happened. Pinga was also sacked, apparently for being too slight to face the Hungarian defense. Índio and Humberto Tozzi came in their places, while Maurinho (who had entered in Rodrigues' place in the previous match) remained improvised in the left wing. Meanwhile, Hungary also had its own problems, since Puskás was injured, so Scharenpeck put Czibor on the centerforward, and Mihály Tóth in the left wing. Meanwhile, after some rain in the morning, the ground had gotten slippery, which hampered both the Brazilian dribbling and the Hungarian passing. In any case, Hungary started on their usual rhythm, opening a 2x0 advantage in only seven minutes, but Brazil soon began balancing the actions, and eleven minutes later, Djalma Santos pulled one back on a penalty kick, and in the second half, Julinho equalized with a fine goal, stepping inside a defender and slicing a drive across Grosics into the far side of the net. Brazil kept holding on until the 88th minute, when Kocsis scored the winning goal for Hungary, in a goal much contested by a supposed offside in part of Kubala, who had gone out of the field for a water break, returned without authorization from the referee and had immediately after, given the cross that had resulted on Kocsis' goal. Still, for Brazil, the result wasn't that bad - thanks to goal average, they just had to hope Germany didn't beat Curaçao by 11 goals or more.

The next day, the relative lack of interest on the match combined with the concurrent Mexico match meant the lowest attendance in the Cup. Meanwhile, the Curaçaoan manager, Antoine Maduro, changed almost the entire team but the performances only got worse, not helped by the fact that Germany, knowing exactly what result they needed, set out to beat Hungary's record, but Hato was still on the goal, and he kept Curaçao from a even larger defeat. In the end, the 7x0 wasn't enough for Germany, who went out in the group stage for the third consecutive time, while Curaçao came out of the Cup without even scoring one goal.

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Group 3

The group opened with the reigning champions, Sweden, playing against Burgundy. Despite having lost the entire winning team except for the keeper, Sweden started out on the right foot, with Sylve Bengtsson opening the score at only 23 minutes. Henri Coppens equalized for Burgundy soon after, but within eight minutes, Sweden had a two-goal lead, thanks to Aulis Rytkönen, who scored both goals. However, Burgundy returned better from the break - Pieter van den Bosch pulled one back for Burgundy five minutes after the return, and during most of the second half, Sweden mostly restricted itself to withstanding the Burgundan pressure. Then, at 83 minutes, Léopold Anoul equalized for Burgundy again.

The next day, Croatia faced Paraguay at the Nacional stadium. Coratia largely dominated the first half, but wasted many opportunities due to nervousness. Finally, 41 minutes in, Antonio Cabrera took Zlatko Papec down inside the area, and Branko Zebec converted the penalty. That goal was enough to have the Croatianc coming back lighter for the second half, and within 15 minutes, they were already up by 3x0, with Melanio Olmedo scoring a own goal and Bernard Vukas scoring with a superb diving header. Papec wuld score his own towards the end, heading in a cross from Zebec, and at the 81th minute, Paraguay finally managed their honor goal, as Juan Ángel Romero got in a low cross-shot before the tackle came in.

Three days later, it was Burgundy's time to visit the Nacional to play against Paraguay. The first half was relatively uneventful, but largely dominated by Burgundy, who came into half-time leading by 1x0 (goal from Anoul) and had a number of other wasted chances, with Coppens requring a save from Adolfo Riquelme, and Michels sending the ball wide. Paraguay came back better from the break, and took the lead within five minutes, with Jara and Rubén Fernández. Anoul equalized for Burgundy in the front again two minutes later, but Paraguay largely dominated the actions after that. Romero put Paraguay in the lead again with a penalty kick, and at 77 minutes, Jara scored the fourth Paraguayan goal.

Meanwhile, at Puebla, Sweden and Croatia faced, in another busy match. With full control of the match during the second half, Sweden came into half-time leading by 4x1, with every forward except Thillberg scoring. In the second, Sweden relaxed visibly, and Croatia began growing in the match, and while Zlatko Čajkovski's goal fed Croatian hopes of a reaction, Kurt Hamrin's second 15 minutes later put paid to these hopes. However, soon after, a thigh injury took Bengtsson out of the match and briefly left Sweden one man down. Croatia still managed to score the third with Stjepan Bobek, but it was too late.

Three days later, Croatia and Burgundy returned to the Nacional, with Burgundy still having some hopes of qualifying, and needing to beat Croatia for that. the match started busy enough in the first half, with Coppens and Bobek scoring within the first 15 minutes, but the rest of the first half didn't have the same intensity, although Burgundy had the best chances. In the second, the match remained balanced - at 60 minutes, Josip Šikić deflected a cross from Hippolyte van den Bosch into his own net, but Croatia reacted only five minutes later, with Papec, and the winning goal for Croatia only came at the 78th minute, with Vukas.

Two days later, Paraguay faced Sweden, also needing a win to qualify, but once again suffered with a poor first half, plus a good performance from Nils-Åke Sandell (Bengtsson's substitute), and went into half-time losing by 3x0. As expected, Paraguay improved in the second half, but was hampered by some poor accuracy in part of the forwards and some good saves in part of Svensson, and as a result, by the time Fernández scored the honor goal, only ten minutes were left.

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Group 4

The first match of the group would be at León, pitting Swabia against Bohemia. It didn't take long for Bohemia to score, as Tadeáš Kraus beat two men, let the ball run on too far inside the Swabian penalty area, then got in his shot before the tackle, the ball going in under Parlier as he dived too late. Swabia soon began betting on the counter-attacks, and twelve minutes later, Hügi ran onto a through-pass and shot across Houška, who came off his line too late and didn’t dive. The 1x1 would remain into half-time, but after that, the Swabian offensive performance began improving. Hügi’s strong shot went in low at the near post, then Ballaman headed the third into an open net after a cross went over Houška, then helped set up Antenen.

The next day, Austria and Uruguay played at the recently-inaugurated Jalisco stadium. Austria started the match on a more offensive posture, but found it hard to get the ball onto the attack, and their only dangerous chance in the first half resulted in a penalty kick converted by Dienst. On the rest of the match, Uruguay was the better team, and within 40 minutes, had taken the lead with Míguez and Javier Ambrois, but found it hard to get past the Austrian defense. Then, with one minute to go, Alfred Körner managed to equalize after trading passes with Probst.

Three days later, Swabia visited Uruguay at Guadalajara, and retained the same defensive consistency of the previous match, but even then, Uruguay had a excellent first half and went into half-time leading by 2x0. First, Abbadie beat Bocquet and rolled the ball across the face of the goal for Borges to hold off a man and beat another before shooting high and fiercely past Parlier, and three minutes later, beat Kerner before shooting from close range on the left, and outside of these, the team created many other chances in that half. However, much like in the previous match, Swabia grew in the second half, and had a fair number of good chances - Rodríguez Andrade had to clear off the line from Ballaman (the ball seemed to cross the line), Hagen had a goal disallowed, and Vonlanthen might have had a penalty. Only four minutes from the end Swabia finally scored theirs, when Hügi scored with a low cross-shot from close range,

Meanwhile, Austria played against Bohemia at León. Within four minutes, Austria had practically decided the match. Despite not scoring, Theodor Wagner (who had gone in in Schleger's place) brought to the Austrian attack the creativity that had been lacking in the previous match. His precise passes allowed Probst to receive the balls that weren't coming in the previous match and scored three times just in the first half, while Stojaspal scored the other two. It wasn't until the 55th minute that Schmied finally had to make a meaningful save, from Hlaváček.

Three days later, Swabia visited Austria at León, needing to win to qualify without worrying about the result of the Uruguayan match, and what followed was a frantic match, under a 36-degree heat. Much as expected, Swabia went all out on the attack, and opened a 3x0 advantage, with two goals from Hügi and one from Ballaman, in only seven minutes. However, the Austrian reaction would be instant and just as devastating, as Theodor Wagner pulled one back for Austria only two minutes after the third Swabian goal and then the Austrians would score another four goals in the next nine minutes. As the first half drew to a close, Ballaman scored the fourth Swabian goal while Alfred Körner missed a penalty and wasted his chance at a hat-trick. By half-time, the heat had Schmied and Bocquet receiving medical attention for sunstroke, and once the teams returned, the match slowed down considerably. Wagner and Hügi completed their hat-tricks, while with 14 minutes to go, Probst scored the seventh Austrian goal. Once again, Swabia was eliminated on the group stage once more, but that match went down in history as the highest-scoring World Cup match.

The next day, Uruguay faced Bohemia. Despite only having built the scoreline in the final 20 minutes, Uruguay was in control all through the match, although hampered by a heavy pitch and a Czech defence in which Hledík and the Hungarian-born keeper Reimann (who had entered in Houška's place) had excellent games. Eventually Míguez scored from Varela’s pass and Schiaffino curled in a free kick. Santamaría had to make a saving tackle on a shot from Hlaváček near the end, but the 2x0 was enough to qualify.

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And thus, the matches of the quarterfinal were defined:

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[1] - All temperature measurements I do are in Celsius.

Let me know your predictions and stay tuned for Part 34!
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Chapter XXXIV
Chapter XXXIV - Gold

The first match of the quarterfinals, at the Azul, would feature Brazil and England, facing each other for the third consecutive time. The general expectation, from the previous matches, was that Brazil would advance, and the first half gave nobody much reason to doubt that, although a good performance from the English defense ensured the scoreline remained at 0x0. Only at the 56th minute Castilho finally touched the ball, but not in the way he'd like it: Wilshaw headed in a cross from Matthews and Castilho could only pick it up from the back of the net. Brazil continued dominating the match through the second half and equalized only 14 minutes later, when Pinga beat Staniforth and forced a save from Merrick, who palmed the ball away, only for Baltazar to catch the rebound. A few minutes later, Julinho got past Merrick and shot to the goal, only for Byrne to tackle it away on the line. Then, only five minutes before the end, Broadis volleyed a bouncing ball across Castilho and put England in the semifinals.

Meanwhile, Sweden faced Uruguay at the Nacional. The Swedes started well, dominating the actions in the first half but went behind when 18 minutes in, Borges’s cross from the left was met by Míguez’s powerful header that dipped across the keeper from twelve meters out. shortly before the break, Sweden equalised from a left-wing cross that fell loose in a crowded penalty area, and Rytkönen lunged in to score. However, Uruguay improved considerably in the second half, and took back the lead within 11 minutes, when Abbadie ran in completely unmarked and scored with a cross-shot. Two minutes later, Schiaffino took advantage of another positioning blunder from the Swedish defense to come in equally unmarked, and shoot after going around Svensson. Then, at the 78th minute, he would score again, beating Sandbring before shooting from close range on the left.

Meanwhile, at Guadalajara, Austria faced Croatia, and opened the score quickly, with Robert Körner, but Croatia soon began dominating the first half, and within twenty minutes, they had taken the lead: Vladimir Firm thrashed the ball in high at the near post after Zeman had dropped a corner under pressure from his own defender, then five minutes later, Bobek pushed the ball under the keeper from close range. That scoreline remained until the break, but Austria returned better from half-time, and took the lead back in only three minutes. First, Stojaspal touched the ball delicately wide of Kralj, and then scored off a penalty kick two minutes later. But Austria kept going, and ten minutes later, Alfred Körner hit a ground shot past the keeper and a defender on the line, and six minutes after that, set up Probst with a gentle through-pass. at this point, the match seemed already decided, but Croatia sketched out a reaction in the final minutes, when Vukas tiptoed unchallenged into the penalty area to push the ball wide of Zeman, but soon after that, Probst walked the ball past Horvat before shooting home, scored the sixth and buried any possible Croatian reaction.

The next day, Hungary would face the hosts, and had very little trouble opening a wide lead: First, Kubala drove in the first goal from six meters after a cutback on the left. Kocsis met a clearing header with a marvellous left-footed volley from nearly 20 meters away. Hidegkuti then ran in to push home a square pass from a few meters out. Feeling the pressure, the Mexicans began getting rough - three minutes later, Gómez got the first warning - and Hungary started responding in kind, and soon enough, the match became a battle. Just before the break, József Tóth was sandwiched by Romo and Cárdenas and came off the field limping. Half-time didn't cool tempers down either, and at 14 minutes, the mood darkened further when the referee Ellis gave a penalty for a hand-ball by Ávalos that no-one else seemed to notice, and which was converted by Kubala. But the violence persisted. A few minutes later, Bozsik and Cárdenas started pushing and shoving each other and were sent off. Then, with the match close to the end, Arellano went to the showers too for jumping on Lóránt, but no more goals were scored and Hungary advanced to the semifinals.

In the first match of the semifinals, England would face Uruguay, and would have their best match so far, but were unlucly to be facing a utterly irresistible Uruguay. Five minutes in, the Ceeste opened the score - Borges’ cut-back from the left-hand goal line was mishit by one team mate and missed by another’s attempted backheel flick — so Borges came off the goal line to smash the ball in. England equalized when Wilshaw’s reverse pass was put away by Lofthouse’s left-footed crossshot. A few minutes after that, Máspoli saved miraculously from Lofthouse at close range, but a few minutes before the break, Dickinson headed away a free kick and Varela returned it with a high curling shot from twenty meters out. Soon after returning from the break, Uruguay scored the third, when Schiaffino rolled a slowish simple-looking shot and Merrick seemed to turn his back and fall down facing his own goal. England’s second goal was poked in by Finney after Máspoli had saved from Lofthouse, his follow-up going between Varela (who had injured himself in he end of the first half)’s legs and past another defender on the line. Then twelve minutes from the end, Uruguay scored the fourth, when Merrick didn’t get down to cover Ambrois’ optimistic cross-shot.

Meanwhile, at the Azul, Hungary faced Austria, and as usual, opened the score quickly, when Czibor appeared in the center and scored after receiving the ball from Kubala. Fifteen minutes later, Hanappi came out from the defense, received a ball from Schleger and shot low into the net, and the 1x1 remained into half-time. Returning from the break, Hungary took the lead back in six minutes, when Palotás received the ball from Kocsis inside the area, and began dominating the match, and moreover, counted with a abrupt performance drop from the Austrian attack, that had scored 18 goals in the last three matches, but now seemed almost unable to give Grosics anything to do. Sixteen minutes later, Kocsis headed in a cross from Kubala, and Kubala would leave his own ten minutes from the end, after running in from the left and shooting from the edge of the area.

Three days later, England and Austria played in the third-place final. The match began balanced in the first half, and in the 15th minute, Probst thumped in a penalty for a foul by Dickinson on Dienst. Six minutes later, Matthews dribbled through two defenders before setting up Taylor for the equaliser. Austria came back better for the second half, and at 59 minuts, Körner’s shot was headed in by Probst. close to the end, Wagner shot into the corner of the net and secured the third place for Austria.

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After the match against England, Míguez, Abbadie and Varela were sure to not to be present for the final, while Andrade's presence was in doubt until the day of the match. The former two were replaced by Juan Hohberg, Rafael Souto and Néstor Carballo, respectively, while Hungary saw the return of Puskás. The Hungarians, as usual, started with a all-out attack, Puskás forcing a save from Máspoli, Hidegkuti and Bozsik shooting just wide, and at 13 minutes, they were gifted the lead by Máspoli, who should have saved Puskás' mishit crossshot rather than just getting his hand to it, but that wasn't enough to get the match off-balance. the defenses were still tight and neither the mass attacks on Hungary's side or the quick Uruguayan wing incursions produced much danger. Uruguay’s first real chance didn’t come till the 39th minute, when Schiaffino went round Grosics but couldn't keep his balance. Then, early in the second half, Kubala beat Cruz and crossed for Hidegkuti to score with a marvellous diving header right under the keeper’s nose.

But, going against all they had done since 1950, the Hungarians basically stopped attacking after the second goal, and slowly Uruguay began growingon the match. At 75 minutes, Hohberg scored with a low crosshot after being put clear by a short ball from Schiaffino. the goal reinvigorated the Uruguayans, who began going all out on the attack, and were rewarded when four minuted before the end, Schiaffino beat two men and put Hohberg through again, to bundle in the rebound after Grosics saved his first shot. Hohberg was so overcome wth exhaustion and emotion that he fainted and only came back for extra time. The extra time itself was a work of art, and either team could have won. At 109 minutes, Kubala made another goal, crossing for Kocsis to head in, but two minutes later, Hohberg came in again and scored once more, becoming the first player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final, but by then Schiaffino and Andrade were feeling their earlier injuries, and six minutes later, Kocsis headed the fourth from Bozsik’s centre. A fitting end to one of the greatest games.

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164 goals were scored in 32 matches, for a average of 5,12 goals a match. The top goal scorer was Sándor Kocsis, with 12 goals, followed by Erich Probst, with 8, and Josef Hügi, with 6.

Stay tuned for the next part, which will show the prelude to the 1958 FIFA World Cup!
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Amazing thread! I've started reading it recently and man, I just want to say it's amazing.

I wonder if there is any chance to know more about the countries in this TL and their national/continental competitions, have you considered covering that in any way?
Amazing thread! I've started reading it recently and man, I just want to say it's amazing.

I wonder if there is any chance to know more about the countries in this TL and their national/continental competitions, have you considered covering that in any way?

Club competitions are a little outside of the scope of this thread, but i occasionally post about them on the Alternate football wikis thread. Right now i've got a post about Castille over there and might post about other leagues in the future.
Chapter XXXV
Chapter XXXV - The 1956 European Championship

Soon enough, it was time to prepare for a new European championship. building on the last qualifiers' format, the eight qualified teams of the previous edition would advance directly into the second round, while the other 32 teams played to define the 16 teams that would complete the six-team groups. Originally, the final tournament would only feature eight teams, but late in 1955, UEFA was founded, took over the organization of tournament and expanded it to 16 teams. The tournament would be held in Bohemia.

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The Hungarian unbeaten streak came to an end soon after the Cup, when they lost to Germany merely two months after coming back from Mexico. In any case, that seemed to be only a fluke, as they went on to spend the entirety of 1955 unbeaten, but by 1956, the cracks in the machine were already showing, as many of its rivals began imitating its success, both on tactics and preparation. In their first match, against Swabia, they uncharacteristially let a 3x1 lead go through their hands and ended up with a 4x4 tie. Meanwhile, Bohemia beat Croatia, but seemed to still have trouble with their attack. By the second round, these problems were solved by the entrance of Jiří Feureisl, who scored four times in the Bohemian 6x1 victory. Meanwhile, Hungary remained unconvincing, only tying against a aging Croatia and putting themselves on the situation of needing to beat Bohemia to advance. That didn't happen, as Bohemia beat the Magyars by 4x2, two goals from the naturalized Hungarian Anton Moravčík, in a result that marked the end of an era. Swabia clinched the other berth by beating Croatia.

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In Group 2, Castille had reinforced their team with Alfredo Di Stéfano, who had been signed by Real Madrid after the Neogranadine Eldorado came to an end, but he'd only really make his mark in the second match, where he scored a hat-trick on Castille's 4x1 victory over France. That particular result shot Castille onto the top of the group, and effectivelly made Italy x France in the last round into a direct match for a spot in the quarterfinals, while Castille could afford to lose by up to 3x0 against Scotland. In the end, Italy, coming off two unconvincing ties, won by 2x0 and qualified in the top spot, while Castille lost by only 1x0 and advanced as well.

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In Group 3, things started off exciting enough, with England nearly conceding a tie to Austria in a seven-goal match, while Sweden beat Serbia by 2x0. In the second round, Austria managed to hold the Serbians to a tie, and kept their chances alive for the next round, while Sweden and England tied by 0x0. In the last round, England secured their qualification as expected, beating Serbia by 3x0, while in the other match, Austria, that needed to beat Sweden by at least two goals, did exactly that, with the qualifying goal coming only 13 minutes from the end.
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Meanwhile, in Group 4, the surprises began early. Facing a Germany still trying to renew its aged team, Wales won by 3x0, in a result built in the final 25 minutes, while Russia beat Aragon by 2x0 in the previous day. In the second round, Germany continues disappointing, this time losing by 2x1, while Aragon kept its chances alive by tying against Wales. To cap off a particularly disappointing performance, Germany lost their third match as well, this time 3x1 to Aragon, but despite Wales' defeat to Russia, that wasn't enough to qualify the Aragonese, who finished only one goal behind the Welsh.

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In the quarterfinals, Bohemia only qualified to the semifinals after extra time, in a match where the Bohemian defensive solidity paid off, as the team managed to withstand the Castillian pressure throughout the match, and the only goal came from a counter-attack. Meanwhile, Russia beat Italy to return to the semifinals, England prevailed over Wales after spending the entire first half losing by 1x0, while Swabia avanged their 1954 elimination after beating Austria by 2x1. In the semifinals, Bohemia qualified after a close match with England, while in the other match, Swabia was very little of a match to Russia, who won by 5x1. Despite that, the Swabians would eventually beat England in the third-place final.

Meanwhile, Bohemia and Russia played in the final. Russia took the lead early with Streltsov, but lost it a few minutes later, when Bashashkin scored a own goal, but the tie remained into half-time. However, the Bohemians would improve in the second half, taking the leas with a goal from Jan Sturm only eightr minutes in, and securing their victory two minutes from the end, with a goal from Feureisl.

1956 ENC K.png


So, that isn't exactly the update I or anybody else predicted, but i've realized that the Euro got too large to deal with it as part of another already-large post, so i'm dedicating a entire post for it, in much less detail than the World Cups, since this still isn't the focus. Stay tuned for Part 36!
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Chapter XXXVI
Chapter XXXVI - Plus Ultra

By 1958, it was Europe's turn to host again, and the 1954 FIFA Congress received the applications of Scotland, France and Castille. Once voting began, Scotland fell behind - despite having the largest stadium in Europe, it hadn't qualified to a World Cup yet at that point, and this counted against it, and then Castille prevailed over France in the second ballot.

Castille and Aragon.png

In early antiquity, the Iberian Peninsula was inhabited by a mixture of Iberian and Celtic tribes, along with other local pre-Roman peoples. With the Roman conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, the province of Hispania was established. Following the Romanization and Christianization of Hispania, the fall of the Western Roman Empire ushered in the inward migration of tribes from Central Europe, including the Suebi, Alans and Visigoths, the latter of which formed the Visigothic Kingdom centred on Toledo.

From 711 to 718, as part of the expansion of the Umayyad Caliphate, which had conquered North Africa from the Byzantine Empire, nearly all of the Iberian Peninsula was conquered by Muslims from across the Strait of Gibraltar, resulting in the collapse of the Visigothic Kingdom. Only a small area in the mountainous north of the peninsula stood out of the territory seized during the initial invasion. The Kingdom of Asturias (later León) consolidated upon this territory. Other Christian kingdoms such as Navarre and Aragon in the mountainous north eventually surged upon the consolidation of counties of the Carolingian Marca Hispanica. For several centuries, the fluctuating frontier between the Muslim and Christian controlled areas of the peninsula was along the Ebro and Douro valleys.

Conversion to Islam proceeded at an increasing pace. The muladíes (Muslims of ethnic Iberian origin) are believed to have formed the majority of the population of Al-Andalus by the end of the 10th century. Meanwhile, after the fall of the Umayyad dynasty, one of the members of the family, Abd al-Rahman, fled to the Iberian peninsula, and in time, took over the region and installed himself as Emir. His descendants would remain ruling the Muslim part of the peninsula over 200 years and declare themselves caliphs in 929.

In the 11th century, the Caliphate of Córdoba collapsed, fracturing into a series of petty kingdoms (Taifas),often subject to the payment of a form of protection money to the Northern Christian kingdoms, which otherwise undertook a southward territorial expansion. The capture of the strategic city of Toledo in 1085 marked a significant shift in the balance of power in favour of the Christian kingdoms. The arrival from North Africa of the Islamic ruling sects of the Almoravids and the Almohads achieved temporary unity upon the Muslim-ruled territory, with a more austere application of Islam, and partially reversed some Christian territorial gains.

The Kingdom of León was the strongest Christian kingdom for centuries. In 1188, the first form (restricted to the bishops, the magnates, and 'the elected citizens of each city') of modern parliamentary session in Europe was held in León. The Kingdom of Castille, split from Leonese territory, was its successor as strongest kingdom. The kings and the nobility fought for power and influence in this period. The example of the Roman emperors influenced the political objective of the Crown, while the nobles benefited from feudalism.

Withe the collapse of the Almohads, the Muslim strongholds in the Guadalquivir Valley such as Córdoba (1236) and Seville (1248) fell to Castile in the 13th century. Previously, the County of Barcelona and the Kingdom of Aragon entered in a dynastic union and gained territory and power in the Mediterranean. In 1229 Majorca was conquered, so was Valencia in 1238. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the North-African Marinids established some enclaves around the Strait of Gibraltar. Upon the conclusion of the Granada War, the Nasrid Sultanate of Granada (the remaining Muslim-ruled polity in the Iberian Peninsula after 1246) capitulated in 1492 to the military strength of the Catholic Monarchs, and it was integrated from then on in the Crown of Castile.

In 1469, the crowns of the Christian kingdoms of Castille and Aragon (by then united with Navarra) were united by the marriage of their monarchs, Isabella I and Guillén II, respectively. In 1492, Jews were forced to choose between conversion to Catholicism or facing expulsion. As a result, as many as 200,000 Jews were expelled from Castille and Aragon. The year 1492 also marked the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World, during a voyage funded by Isabella. Columbus's first voyage crossed the Atlantic and reached the Caribbean Islands, beginning the European exploration and conquest of the Americas. The unification of the crowns of Aragon, Navarra and Castille by the marriage of their sovereigns laid the basis for modern Spain and the Spanish Empire, although each kingdom of Spain remained a separate country socially, politically, legally, and in currency and language.

Spain became one of the leading world powers in the 16th century, a position reinforced by trade and wealth from colonial possessions and became the world's leading maritime power. Through exploration and conquest or royal marriage alliances and inheritance, the Spanish Empire expanded across vast areas in the Americas, the Indo-Pacific and Africa. The Age of Discovery featured explorations by sea and by land, the opening-up of new trade routes across oceans, conquests and the beginnings of European colonialism. Precious metals, spices, luxuries, and previously unknown plants brought to the metropole played a leading part in transforming the European understanding of the globe. The cultural efflorescence witnessed during this period is now referred to as the Spanish Golden Age. The expansion of the empire caused immense upheaval in the Americas as the collapse of societies and empires and new diseases from Europe devastated American indigenous populations. The rise of humanism, the Counter-Reformation and new geographical discoveries and conquests raised issues that were addressed by the intellectual movement now known as the School of Salamanca.

The 18th century saw an increase in prosperity through much of the empire. The predominant economic policy was an interventionist one, and the Crown also pursued policies aiming towards infrastructure development as well as the abolition of internal customs and the reduction of export tariffs. Projects of agricultural colonisation with new settlements took place in the south of mainland Spain, and efforts to expand the reach of its colonial empire were undertaken, with Alta California being settled around that time, while the concurrent effort to establish settlements in Patagonia wasn't as successful. That interventionism also reached the colonies, facing strong local oppositon, and eventually contributing to the revolutions in the Viceroyalty of Peru in the 1780s. In their wake, increasing degrees of autonomy were granted to its remaining American colonies, which were usually elevated to kingdoms under the Crown of Castille or to independent Crowns under personal union with Castille.

The 19th century would see the beginning of industrialization in the country, with the first few centers being in Catalonia, Asturias, Biscay and Madrid, and the construction of railways in the second half of the nineteenth century helped alleviate some of the isolation of the interior. By 1958, over 13 million people lived in Castille, and nearly 6 million in Aragon, with roughly 1 million Castillians living in and around Madrid, and 700,000 living in and around Barcelona.

In regards to football, Castille was still very much in the second shelf of European football. Despite having the largest territory and population out of the Spanish nations, historically, it had been behind Navarra and Aragon in terms of national team performance. The 40s had seen a improvement on Castillian fortunes as Aragon declined, but in the late 40s, Aragon had recovered, although it had little luck qualifying for the World Cup, but in the other hand, Navarra had fallen into a slump after 1950. Meanwhile, the Castilian and Aragonese leagues had been growing and attracting foreign talent.

The preparation for the Cup had gone calmly enough until FIFA decided to expand the size of the competition to 20 teams in 1956 and threw a large wrench on the original plan, and the organizing commitee responded by setting a format of four groups of five, and expanding the number of host cities as well - the original planned seven (Madrid would have two venues) became eleven. The geographical basis was kept, with each group having three venues - Group 1 would be played at Madrid and Murcia, Group 2 at Valladolid, Vigo and León, Group 3 at Oviedo, Gijón and Santander, and Group 4 at Seville, Córdoba and Granada. However, there was a persistent fear that Group 2 was a weak link, with the stadia at León and Valladolid being quite small, so slowly the idea of co-hosting with Aragon in case they qualified began taking hold. It wasn't a new idea - Sweden had considered letting Denmark play its group matches in Copenhagen if it qualified in 1950, but that did not come to pass.

The new plan was to scrap Valladolid (which had the smallest stadium of them all), merge Groups 2 and 3, move Santander to Group 1, and host Group 3 on Aragon. It almost went wrong, as Aragon had a hard time on the qualifiers, in a death group that also had Portugal, and the notion of inviting Portugal (who led their group in the lead-up to the last round) to co-host in case they qualified was briefly entertained, but Aragon managed to qualify in the last round.

The Aragonese didn't hesitate in choosing four venues for their group: two large ones in Barcelona - the recently inaugurated Camp Nou and the old Les Corts stadium, Zaragoza (with a stadium just as new), and Valencia. And finally, almost as a afterthought and in order to keep all the groups with the same number of venues, Jaén, whose regional authorities were complaining that every other realm in Castille got to have a stadium in the Cup except for them, had one Group 4 match scheduled in their stadium, officially bringing up the number of stadia to 16 in 14 cities, breaking Sweden's record.


Stay tuned for the next part, with the qualifiers.
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Chapter XXXVII
Chapter XXXVII - Them Changes

The impasse regarding Asia's berths on the World Cup remained after the 1954 tournament had ended, and through most of 1955, and then Seeldrayers suddenly died in October, and the Asian question became a issue on the upcoming election. The acting chairman, Arthur Drewry, began negotiating with the Asian confederation, and that would impel the European teams to form their own continental confederation. His idea was to give one direct berth to Asia and Africa, with Europe losing one berth. However, his rival for the election, Maurice Lafarge, put forward his own plan, which would expand the tournament from 16 to 20 teams, with one berth for Africa and Asia each, and Europe and South America also gaining a extra berth each. That plan turned out to be more popular than Drewry's one, and carried Lafarge into FIFA's chairmanship. Lafarge, once installed, effectively ceded the organization of the European championship and the European qualifiers to UEFA.

Under UEFA's stewardship, the European World Cup qualifiers would remain the same, except that the British Championship would no longer moonlight as a qualifier group, something that was welcomed by every other British nation, especially Scotland, since England had won all the championships in qualifying years since 1942. From that point, goal difference would also be used as a tiebreaker in case two teams ended up tied in points, thus dispensing with the old playoffs.

In Group 1, Livonia remained in a weak run and started by losing its first three matches, while Estonia (3 points), Russia (4 points) and Poland (5 points) fought closely for the berth. However, in the fourth round, Livonia won its first match, while Russia beat Poland at Moscow and took the first position. However, in the following roung, Estonia held Russia to a tie at Tallinn, while Poland beat Livonia at Kraków. The results effectively eliminated Estonia, and left Poland and Russia tied in points, but with Russia having a advantage on goal difference. Poland tried its best to make up for the inferior goal difference, beating Estonia by 5x2, but Russia didn't give the Livonians any slack either, and their 7x0 victory sent them off to another World Cup.

In Group 2, after the first four rounds, Venice led its group with 6 points, followed by Burgundy, with 5, Provence, with 3, and Turkey (who had joined UEFA in 1956), with 2. However, in the fifth round, Venice, that had already only tied at home against Burgundy, lost to them at Brussels by 1x0, while the already eliminated Turks beat Provence by 4x0. All his put Venice in the situation of needing to beat Provence and hope that Turkey beat Burgundy at home, which was exactly what happened, with the Turks winning by 2x0, while Venice beat Provence by 3x0 and finally qualified to a World Cup.

Group 3 saw the debut of Iceland in a international competition, but that would be a quite inauspicious affair, with the Icelanders losing all of their six matches. Denmark also fell out of the running quickly, winning only their matches against Iceland, which meant that the dispute for the berth in the group concentrated itself in the matches between Ireland and England. By the last round, both were tied with 9 points, but thankfully for England, the final match would be at Wembley. within their stadium, Ireland had little chance of winning, and with a 5x1 victory, England went to the World Cup again.

In Group 4, In the first four matches, Serbia remained plagued by the attacking deficiencies that it had already shown during the European championship - at that point, Serbia had only scored three times, and stood in second in a very balanced group, with only two points separating the last placer (Morea) from the first (Croatia), However, Serbia's last two matches would be at home - they won the first, against Morea, by 4x1. while Wallachia was eliminated after a loss to Croatia, leaving the Croatia x Serbia in the last round as the decisive match. Serbia won by 4x1 again and returned to the World Cup.

In Group 5, After winning the European title, Bohemia seemed set to qualify, after winning its first three matches, while all their rivals stumbled over themselves and stood with two points each. However, in the fourth round, Wales began putting up a hard challenge, scoring nine goals in only two matches (against the Papal States and Albania), while Bohemia beat Albania with some difficulty - in the eve of the Bohemia's match with the Papal States at Rome, Wales had to hope for a Roman victory and then would need to beat Bohemia themselves in order to qualify, but Bohemia held on to a tie, and qualified with one round to go. Wales did beat Bohemia in the final match, but it was too late.

1958 Q1.png

Group 6 soon became the death group, featuring one of Swabia's best generations, fresh off a third place in the European championship, a strong Aragonese side, and a Italy that in addition to a decent side, could even count with the Uruguayans Schiaffino and Ghiggia on the attack, but after the first three rounds, the top position of the group belonged to Portugal, that had won both of its home matches, even beating Italy by 3x0. In the fourth round, Portugal shot off in the front after beating Swabia, but Italy took another blow to its pretensions after losing to Aragon at Barcelona, but recovered soon, giving back a 3x0 to Portugal at Milan. the concurrent Aragonese tie against Swabia left the group wide open for the last round, with all teams except for Swabia having a chance to qualify. Italy did their part, beating Swabia by 3x1, but it wasn't enough, since now, either Portugal or Aragon would pass it regardless of who won, even if it was only on goal difference. Meanwhile, in their match, Aragon, that needed to win to qualify, opened the score in the first half with Justo Tejada, and spent most of the rest of the match withstanding Portugal's attempts at tying, and five minutes from the end, Estanislao Basora scored the second and put Aragon back in the finals after 28 years.

In Group 7, Austria secured its qualification easily, winning all of their first three matches, with a 7x0 victory over Savoy as the highlight of the campaign, and gave themselves the luxury of tying against the Savoyards in the last round.

In Group 8, while Germany had a easy time winning their home matches against Norway and Bulgaria, the away ones were a different story - the Germans lost to Norway at Oslo and were hard-pressed to beat Bulgaria at Sofia, but managed to qualify for another Cup.

In Group 9, after years of getting eliminated by England, Scotland, for a change, was graced with a particularly easy group, featuring White Ruthenia and Lithuania as the only competition, and the Scots had very little difficulty winning their four matches and finally qualifying to a World Cup.

In Group 10, Sicily lost both of its first matches, practically leaving the dispute for the berth to France and Navarra. In the first match, France won by 6x3, five goals from the naturalized Pole Thadée Cisowski, and another victory over Sicily qualified France in advance.

Meanwhile, in Group 11, Pomerania's losses in its first two matches left Ruthenia and Sweden competing for the berth. The first match, at Kiev, was a tie, and after both beat Pomerania again, they met at Solna to decide the berth. Sweden won by 3x0 and qualified again.

1958 Q2.png

Group 12 was allotted to Africa. While the favourite was Egypt, who had won the first African Nations Cup in 1956, they were eliminated in the semifinals by Algeria, who qualified to the Cup with a stellar performance, winning all six matches convincingly, although what that would translate into in the World Cup was yet to be seen.

Group 13 was still played in the same format as in 1950, with four regional subgroups and a knockout tournament to define the qualified team. India, Korea, Iran and Insulindia won their groups, and the remaining matcheswould be played at Hanseong. Playing at home, Korea dispatched India, while Insulindia won the other semifinal match, but in the final, Insulindia beat Korea by 2x1 and qualified.

1958 Q3.png

Meanwhile, in South America, shortly after the World Cup, the Neogranadine league reached a agreement with FIFA and its national federation, agreeing to release the players that had been signed from abroad that were still there, in return for the national federation to have its suspension lifted, and the league recognized as official. Soon after, Venezuela and Araucania joined the CSF, and the 1957 tournament would be disputed by 12 teams. The impossibility of holding a round-robin championship with that many teams led CSF to devise a format with a preliminary round, with four groups of three teams, in which the two best teams would qualify for the tournament proper.

In the first group of the preliminaries, Venezuela quickly learned that South America was far more competitive than North America, losing all of their four matches, and letting Paraguay and Uruguay qualify with no problems. In Group 2, still inexperienced after years of suspension, New Granada performed poorly, also losing all their matches to Brazil and Peru, with the nadir of their campaign being a 9x0 loss to Brazil at the Maracanã, a match in which Evaristo de Macedo broke the record of most goals scored for the national team in one match, scoring five times. In Group 3, Araucania shocked the continent by beating Charcas at home in its first match, and then put up a good fight against Chile despite losing, but proved to be quite harmless away from Temuco, losing both matches. In Group 4, Argentina qualified with ease, leaving the other berth to be fought by Ecuador and Grão-Pará. Grão-Pará had been the biggest surprise of the 1955 tournament, finishing in fifth place, but was eliminated after only tying at Belém and losing by 5x0 at Guayaquil. Peru was chosen as the host after all the teams were defined.

Uruguay had followed up their 1954 performance with a South American title in 1955, but ever since, most of the players on that team had either retired or gone abroad, and only William Martínez and Javier Ambrois were left from the team that had played the World Cup final. The first sign that qualification wasn't going to be easy came right in the first match, which they lost to Argentina by 4x0. However, over the next three rounds, Uruguay recovered, winning three in a row, but by then it was fairly obvious that Argentina was the main contender for the title. Coming up with a attacking line featuring Humberto Maschio, Antonio Angelillo and Omar Sívori, plus a solid defense, by the fourth round, they had won all their matches, including two against their most likely competitors, Brazil and Uruguay, scored 13 times, and conceded no goals. following them on the table were Uruguay (6 points), Paraguay, Peru and Charcas all tied with 4, Brazil and Chile tied with 3 and Ecuador, with none.

In the fifth round, Argentina won again - 6x2 over Chile, with Uruguay still in its heels, beating Ecuador by 5x2, but Brazil recovered beating Peru by 1x0, while Charcas beat Paraguay. In the sixth round, Argentina guaranteed its title after beating Ecuador by 3x0, while Uruguay lost to Charcas by 3x1. Brazil continued its recovery beating Chile by 4x2, while Paraguay beat the hosts by 2x0 and put them out of the running for the qualification. All that rendered the Charcas x Brazil and Paraguay x Uruguay matches decisive for the qualification. Charcas, Uruguay and Brazil only needed ties to qualify, while Paraguay needed to win their match. While the tie would be enough, after such a disappointing tournament, Brazil wasn't unwilling to cap it off only tying against Charcas, and played to win, which they did, by 4x1. Meanwhile, Paraguay, with their best player, Genaro Benítez, injured, fielded the unknown Florencio Amarilla (winning his first cap) in his place. Amarilla would proceed to score a hat-trick within one hour, and Paraguay wouldn't be satisfied with only a 3x0 and scored twice more near the end, with Ángel Jara (brother of Dario Jara) and Juan Bautista Agüero. And with the same 8 points as Charcas and Paraguay, but with a worse goal difference, Uruguay failed to qualify for the first time. In the other matches, Argentina, with their title already guaranteed, fielded their reserves for the last match against Peru and lost by 2x1, while Chile and Ecuador, both already eliminated, only tied.

1958 Q4.png

In North America, the format of the previous qualifier was retained, and although Mexico found it harder than expected to get through its subgroup, they had little difficulty in winning the knockout matches (played in the Guatemalan province of Costa Rica) and went for their third consecutive Cup.

1958 Q5.png

For that edition, a change in the seeding format was made - instead of seeding only the South American teams and sorting the others at random, five seeding groups were set up -the first group would consist of the two hosts, and the previous finalists, but since Uruguay failed to qualify, they were replaced by Sweden in the draw. The remaining European teams would take up the two other seeding groups and were divided by a geographical basis, the South American teams went into the fourth group and the last one was filled by the rest of the world - the North American, African and Asian teams, plus Russia, that didn't fit in the other seeding groups. thus, the groups were drawn:

1958 GS 0.png


Let me know your predictions and stay tuned for Part 38!
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Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXXVIII - The Spanish Foreign Legions

Group 1

The growth of the Castillian league had led a number of foreign players to make their way there, and Castille didn't hesitate before naturalizing the best of them - the usual starting team had four of them - 1954 veterans José Santamaría (Uruguay) and Heriberto Herrera (Paraguay) on the defense, plus Di Stéfano and his countryman José Héctor Rial on the attack. Falling into a group with the reigning European champions and the runner-up of 1952, Castille couldn't necessarily say it had the easiest group, but the first match, against the debutants Insulindia[1], was going to be the easiest of the four it had to play. In front of over 70,000 people in the Nuevo Chamartín stadium, Castille had some trouble getting through the Insulindian defence at first, with the score still standing at only 1x0 at the 40-minute mark, and surprisingly, Insulindia occasionally made some dangerous excursions to the attack, with André Ramang forcing a save from Goyo Vergel around the 30-minute mark, but then Di Stéfano scored the second Castillian goal and the floodgates opened. By the end of the match, the best player in the Insulindian side was now the keeper, Salvador Loureiro, who kept the Castillians from going past 8x0. Although something had to be said about the frail opposition, that was quite a auspicious World Cup debut for Di Stéfano, who had scored a hat-trick.

The next day, Charcas returned to the World Cup after 36 years and was faced with Germany right in its return. Just before the Cup, Charcas had beaten Sevilla and Atlético de Madrid in friendlies, and been praised by the Castillian press. They started out giving the Germans an early scare, Víctor Ugarte (who had been on the starting team since 1947) sprinting clear on the right wing to whip in a high shot at the near post, three minutes in. But Germany went on in their usual style: solid on the defense and methodical in the attack, and scored twice in the first half (with Rahn and Uwe Seeler), besides wasting two good chances. In the second half, the German physical preparation made the difference. Only twenty minutes in, the Charqueños couldn't keep up the pace anymore and took the third goal (Rahn again) a few minues later. Meanwhile, Fritz Walter became the first player to play in five consecutive World Cups.

Three days later, Charcas played against Insulindia at Murcia. The match seemed to follow the same pattern of the first match for Insulindia: first, Abdul Aramayo opened the score for Charcas at three minutes, Insulindia began reacting and equalized 15 minutes later with Ramang, but Charcas was faster to assert dominance, and the end of the first half, already had a 3x1 lead, with Ugarte and Renan López scoring. In the second half, Ugarte put in his second, and Insulindia scarcely gave any trouble to Arturo López's (no relation) goal in that half.

The next day, Bohemia finally made its debut against the hosts. The first half started balanced, with Luis Suárez opening the score at 12 minutes, only for Feureisl to equalize two minutes later. Bohemia improved in the final minutes of the first half but the scoreline remained level. Castille returned better from the break and scored twice in the space of three minutes, with Joaquín Peiró and Di Stéfano. However, Suárez came off injured late in the match after a challenge from Gustáv Mráz, and wouldn't be available for the next match.

Three days later, Castille faced Charcas, with a victory all but assuring their qualification, but once again, Charcas started out scoring a early goal, with Máximo Alcócer heading in Aramayo's cross, but soon enough Castille took control of the match. At 37 minutes, Charcas conceded a penalty, when Rial's cross came up off onto Ramón Santos' hand, and Di Stéfano converted the penalty. In the second half, Castille dominated the match entirely, and built its victory there: Miguel González put away a precise pass by Francisco Gento, who would later head in a cross from Rial. Now, Castille had nine days' rest until their final group stage match.

The next day, Bohemia faced Germany. the Bohemian manager, Karel Kolský, switched two forwards, and the Bohemians went on the offensive in the first half. By half-time, they lead by 2x0, goals from Milan Dvořák and Zdeněk Zikán, but in the second half, it was Germany's turn to go on the attack. their first goal, by Schäfer, wasn't without controversy, with the Bohemians claiming the ball hadn't crossed the goal line. After Rahn equalized, eleven minutes later, Germany backed off and the 2x2 remained. Despite their poor situation in the table (1 point, against 2 for Charcas, 3 for Germany and 6 for Castille), Bohemia still had some chances to qualify, having both of the weakest teams of the group for their adversaries, while Germany would face the hosts in the last round.

Needing to win, Bohemia once again went on the offensive, and while Charcas managed to keep their disadvantage relatively low in the first half, crumpled entirely in the second. Dvořák scored with a cross-shot from outside the area, then two terrible defensive errors presented the ball to Zikán, who also clipped in the third when López fumbled a gentle shot. Feureisl scored the fourth, and Václav Hovorka went round López for his first, then put away a low cross which cut out the keeper and defender. Ausberto García scored Charcas' honor goal on a penalty kick, but that was all they could do.

The next day, Germany faced Insulindia looking to boost their goal difference in case the decision over Bohemia came down to that, but, well-rested after nine days, Insulindia began the match at a fast pace, and dominated the match slightly during the first half-hour, and Abdul-Ghani Minhat[2] opened the score for Insulindia, but Germany soon began asserting itself, and after equalizing with Schäfer late in the first half, dominated the second half entirely. Fritz Walter scored the second goal and became the first player to score in five different tournaments, and Klodt, Alfred Schmidt and Schäfer scored the other German goals.

The matches of the final round would be played simultaneously. At Santander, Bohemia knew they needed to win by at least three goals' difference and hope Germany lost their match. Bohemia scored early enough, with Jan Sturm, but found it hard to get through the Insulindian defense (that had slowly improved over the course of the tournament), and occasionally opened itself too much to Insulindian counter-attacks. In one of these, Ramang equalized for Insulindia, but in the second half, Zikán scored a hat-trick, but the match was still harder than expected, with the fourth goal only coming eight minutes from the end.

In the other match, needing only a tie to qualify, independent of anything Bohemia could come up with, Germany started behind, when Di Stéfano challenged the goalkeeper, the ball went loose to the right, and Rial’s cross reached the unmarked Suárez. Rahn, showing a full range of skills, hit a beautiful chip over Goyo Vergel for the equaliser, Suárez volleyed in after Gento headed on Santisteban’s corner, and Seeler at last got through with a massive 25-yarder. But then, five minutes from the end, Di Stéfano headed in from Peiró's free kick, close to the bar, and Germany went out in the group stage for the fourth time in a row, intensifying the ongoing discussions about the creation of a Imperial professional league [3]

1958 GS1.png

Group 2

After the fiasco that was the 1956 European championship, Scharenpeck was sacked and replaced by Márton Bukovi, who, along with Scharenpeck, had pioneered the 4-2-4 tactical scheme that Hungary used, and who seemed like a good replacement, but despite a good record with the team, he quit after eight matches and was replaced by Lajos Baróti. The team would debut against France at Vigo, and there was still some hope Hungary could defend its title, and the expectations grew when Bozsik scored at four minutes. But then Hungary backed down to try to hold the result, and little more than twenty minutes later, Cisowski climbed above the defence to head in a corner. But he eventually was taken out of the match by a series of fouls tolerated by the referee, who also denied Kopa a penalty. In the end, Hungary managed to hold onto the result, but only with much difficulty.

The next day, Paraguay and Mexico played at Oviedo, and Paraguay scored on the first chance it had: In one of his first incursions into the area, Amarilla shot from outside of the area, attempting a cross, but then Alfonso Portugal, trying to head the ball out, sent it into his own net and opened the score for Paraguay. 15 minutes later, on a similar play to the first goal, Jorge Lino Romero scored the second, heading in a cross. Mexico reacted soon after, with Carlos Calderón de La Barca scoring on a free kick. Both sides had some good chances through the rest of the match, but only one more goal was scored, with Amarilla scoring from the edge of the area.

Three days later, Paraguay went to Vigo to play against France, in a match that proved to be intense from the outset - Amarilla opened the score for Paraguay with a free kick at 20 minutes, but Just Fontaine, who had entered the team after Cisowski's injury, ran onto through-balls to score twice in ten minutes, but Paraguay took the lead again, with Amarilla, this time with a penalty kick, and Romero. Piantoni equalised with a glorious lob-volley across Mayeregger only two minutes later, but soon after that, Paraguayan forward Silvio Parodi clashed heads with French midfielder Maurice Lafont and had to leave the pitch. with one man down, Paraguay crumpled and would concede another four goals over the next half-hour.

The next day, Serbia made its debut at Gijón against Hungary. Much like in the previous match, Hungary started on the attack and opened the score at 15 minutes, with Karóly Sándor scoring off a cut-back from Czibor. Serbia improved in the latter part of the first half and lost a few good chances, but Hungary returned better from half-time, and 12 minutes into the second half, Puskás received a pass from Kocsis, escaped Tomić's challenge and shot from the edge of the area to score the second.

Three days later, Paraguay traveled again, this time to Gijón, to play against Hungary, and rehabilitated itself on a match full of harsh play on both sides, that seemed to all have gone unnoticed by the referee. Early on, a miskick by Mátrai allowed Agüero in to shoot ‘not particularly fast’ past Grosics. Kocsis qualised after a move involving Bozsik and Puskás — but right before the break, an even worse blunder by Mátrai allowed Amarilla to shoot and Ré to knock the ball in off the goalkeeper and a post. Early in the second half, Puskás had to come off due to a injury, leaving Hungary one man down. Midway through the second half, Grosics, under pressure from two opponents, dropped a corner and Parodi put away the loose ball. Czibor's fine long-range drive held out some hope, but Paraguay held out until the end and kept its chances alive.

The next day, Mexico faced Serbia, both teams trying to recover from their first-match losses. Mexico went through the match at a fast pace, but could do little against Krivokuća's goal save for a shot from Francisco Flores that hit the post early on. Seventeen minutes in, Todor Veselinović converted a short cross from Zdravko Rajkov, lunging ahead of the last defender to prod in a volley, and opened the score for Serbia. In the second half, Aleksandar Petaković was fouled on the area, and the penalty kick was converted by Dragoslav Šekularac, and Veselinović scored again in a similar play to his first goal.

Three days later, Paraguay traveled again, back to Oviedo, to face Serbia on their last group stage match. A win would have put Paraguay through, and for the fourth consecutive time they scored three goals, but their defence still left a lot to desire. Ognjanović put a left-wing cross into an empty net, two minutes later, Parodi scored without meaning to, the ball hitting his leg as he fell, and the minute after that, Veselinović drove in low from eighteen meters. In the second half, Agüero was tenacious after his first attempt was blocked by Krivokuća. Serbia took a while to regain their lead, and did so once Aguilar missed Rajkov's long-range shot, but Paraguay tied again seven minutes later, when Romero poked a shot in off a post. The result wasn't a complete disaster, but their goal difference was worrying, and their hope of qualifying rested on two out of the other three teams still in contention (Hungary, France and Serbia) to not to reach five points. Which meant thet would have to hope Mexico somehow took points of France and Hungary.

The next day, France and Mexico went to Gijón. Piantoni opened the score 13 minutes in, but only five minutes later, Jaime Belmonte equalized for Mexico. then, the Mexicans almost took the lead when Salvador Reyes cleverly stepped over Carlos González’s centre only for Calderón to shoot dismally wide from six meters. A few minutes after that, Robert Jonquet scored after heading in a corner, and the 2x1 remained into half-time. Returning from half-time, Mexico wasted another two chances before France woke up. Then, Kopa and Fontaine scored three goals between them, in only 13 minutes and killed the remote chances Mexico still had of qualifying. And in the proccess, made things harder for Paraguay, that now not only had to hope for Mexico to score a point, but also had to hope France at least tied against Serbia.

For the first match of the last round, Hungary visited Mexico at León, in a match that while far less tense than its 1954 counterpart, ended with the same score. Lajos Tichy was fielded in Puskás' place and proved to be a competent substitute. First he beat a man, fed Sándor on the left and banged in the low cross, then dummied a defender before shooting marvellously across Carbajal from outside the area. Sándor blasted in from an indirect free kick inside the penalty area. The fourth was credited to Kocsis, although it was impossible to be sure who got the last touch.

Meanwhile, at Gijón, Serbia needed to beat France, and much like Paraguay, hope that Mexico took points off Hungary. The French complained about the Serbian comabtiveness, especially the constant challenges on Kopa, some of them out of play. France led after only four minutes, after Fontaine lashed in Piantoni’s cross from the left and delicately lobbed Krivokuća, but Serbia tied in less than 15 minutes, when Petaković flicked in a ground shot after a corner. In the second half, Serbia took the lead after a French defensive error let Veselinović in. Five minutes before the end, in one of the few times Kopa got some space, he gave a precise long pass for Fontaine to equalize, but Serbia still hadn't given up and scored after only three minutes, with Veselinović again. And surprisingly, all teams except Mexico tied with five points each, and all berths were decided by goal difference, and as such, Hungary and France advanced.

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Group 3

Aragon debuted in the same day as Castille, and in front of a crowd just as large as the one in Madrid. Aragon was coming in with a experienced team, with most of the backbone of the team (in particular Ramallets, Segarra, Puchades, Badenes and Basora) having been active on the team since the beginning of the decade and, much like Castille, also had their own foreigners on the team: the Argentine forwards Juan Armando Benavídez and Óscar Coll, and the first Aragonese goal came from Benavídez, who scored from a long ball. late in the first half, the same Benavídez would also cut the ball back for Justo Tejada to sidefoot home. By that point, Scotland had lost a good chance to tie when John Hewie missed a penalty. In the second half, Bobby Collins replied with a good early shot from a straightforward through-pass, but it wasn't enough.

The next day, Venice and Algeria debuted at the Les Corts stadium. At this point, most of the Algerians were entirely unknown outside of France[4], and procceeded to start behind when Ezio Pascutti nudged Mustafa Zitouni off the ball, the ball bounced in the area, and Dragian Jercovich[5] headed in. Shortly before the break, Ahmed Oudjani equalized, driving the ball in after Said Brahimi had three shots blocked. As the second half went on and the 1x1 remained, Venice began going out to the attack to score the second, but grew vulnerable to Algerian counter-attacks. 77 minutes in, Abdelaziz Ben Tifour curled a cross just beyond the keeper to be volleyed home by Oudjani, and one minute before the end, Amokrane Oualiken came into the area entirely unmarked and shot from outside the area to score the third.

After the weak offensive performance against Aragon, Scotland switched four players, and opened the score at only 9 minutes, with Jackie Mudie. Once again, Algeria began growing in the final minutes of the first half, and Rachid Mekhloufi equalized at 43 minutes. Algeria took the lead shortly after the break, with Brahimi, but Scotland didn't take long to react - Mudie equalized only two minutes later, and Scotland would start betting on giving Algeria the initiative and strike on counter-attacks. That strategy worked, but barely. Tommy Younger had to pull a number of saves when the Algerians got past the Scottish defense, but in the other hand, the Scots scored twice and recorded their first World Cup win.

Argentina debuted the next day, against the hosts. Benavídez and Coll requested to sit that one out, not wanting to play against their countrymen, and were replaced by Enric Ribelles and Antoni Gausí, respectively. Unlike Castille, that spent the entire group stage in Madrid, Aragon decided to spread out its matches - the team would play that match in Valencia, and the next in Zaragoza, before returning to Barcelona. The first half-hour was relatively lukewarm, but the match began heating up after that - Estanislao Basora, who had already announced he would retire following the Cup, opened the score at 36 minutes, scoring off a pass from Manuel Badenes, but Argentina's reaction was swift. Maschio equalized just before the break, and in the ten minutes after it, Angelillo and Osvaldo Cruz opened a two-goal lead for Argentina. Aragon tried to reacts, but it'd only obtain some success at the 72nd minute, when Basora scored again, and then, three minutes later, Gausí equalized for Aragon.

Three days later, Argentina went to Barcelona to play against Venice, in the only group stage match not involving Aragon to be played at the Camp Nou. After the initial loss, and facing a famously strong attack, Venice had opted for going in the defensive from the outset. In these circumstances, both of Maschio’s goals were rather fortunate, the first from close range after two defenders had a chance to clear, the other with a lob that may have been put in by a defender’s lunge. Near the end, Guido Gratton pulled one back for Venice with a marvellous drive into the top corner.

The next day, Aragon faced Algeria at Zaragoza. Algeria had already given Scotland and Venice a hard time, and Aragon didn't find things any easier. It took them over half an hour to open the score, on a mishit shot by Tejada, but couldn't get through the Algerian defense to increase their advantage, although Algeria wasn't doing as much offensively against them as they had done against their last two opponents, but one minute from the end, Mekhloufi headed in a rebound from a ball that had bounced off Argilés in the area.

Three days later, Argentina visited Algeria at Zaragoza. Algeria had to replace their ordinary keeper, Abderrahman Boubekeur, who had injured himself on training, with his reserve, the 38-year old Abderrahman Ibrir. With both teams needing to win to have a chance at qualifying, the goals flowed prodigiously. Brahimi opened the score at 7 minutes, but Maschio equalized for Argentina three minutes later. However, Algeria dominated most of the first half, and at the break, led by 3x1, with goals from Mekhloufi and Oudjane. However, on the second half, Argentina finally showed some of the form that had gotten them the South American championship, and scored four goals in only 15 minutes - two from Angelillo, another from Maschio and one from Oreste Corbatta, and Algeria wasn't helped by Ibrir, who had played for Toulouse and Olympique de Marseille years before but clearly didn't have the same reflexes as before. Algeria still tried to react, but at 81 minutes, Sívori settled the score for Argentina.

The next day, Venice faced Scotland at Valencia and got its first point - using the same strategy that had sort of worked against Argentina, Venice was lucky to survive. Mudie missed four good chances and Collins played too deep, either to avoid Sernecovich, or to see the color of the ball for a change. Vladimir Beara was fast emerging as one of the best keepers in the competition. In the end, the 0x0 remained until the end, marking the first time one tournament had had two goalless draws. Now Scotland had to stake it all in the match against Argentina, where to qualify they had to win by two goals' difference to advance.

In the last round's first match, Aragon faced Venice, needing to win to not to depend on the result of the other match. but Venice wasn't about to let the fact they were already eliminated keep them from trying to score at least another point, and they opened the score at 33 minutes. A cross by Paolo Barison, unmarked on the left, reached Jercovich, unmarked on the right, and his confident volley beat Ramallets low at the near post. the Aragonese replied with perhaps the greatest shot ever seen in that World Cup. When Tejada flicked on a pass to the left, the ball drifted high just inside the Venetian penalty area. Badenes lost his marker and met the ball with a full swing of his left foot, volleying it high just inside the far post. Beara, who gave the defender an earbashing, had only himself to blame for the winner, hitting a goal kick so slowly that Coll was able to steal it from Orzan and shoot home. Close to the end, Blason was sent off for hacking down Tejada, who was stretchered off and would probably miss the quarterfinals.

In tthe other match, Argentina faced Scotland, only needing a tie to advance, and opened the score within six minutes. A clever feint by Angelillo fooled Cowie, and Sívori had time to pick his spot low in the far corner past a somewhat slow Younger. But soon enough, Scotland began taking advantage of the slowness of the Argentinian defense and began creating more chances during the first half, while at the same time, thwarting most of Argentina's attacks. Early on the second, Murray beat Domínguez to Turnbull’s cross from the right and headed in, the pair of them left lying on the ground facing the ball in the corner of the net. Mudie was unlucky to have a goal disallowed when the ball went in off him after Domínguez had simply dropped it — but Corbatta hit a post near the end. With that result, Aragon and Argentina finished tied in points, but Argentina took the first position thanks to goal difference.

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Group 4

In the first match of the group, Brazil would face Austria at Seville, and considering the opponent's quality (3rd place in the previous tournament), Brazil debuted well, but Austria wasn't as outmatched as the final scoreline might lead some to believe. In the first 25 minutes, Brazil was somewhat hesitant, and Austria had a slight dominance, but created few chances. Then, at 37 minutes, Didi sent a long through-ball to Mazzola[6], who shot from the edge of the area to open the score. After the goal, Brazil began controlling the match. Early in the second half, Nílton Santos stole the ball from Horak in the midfield, went out to the attack and passed the ball to Mazzola, before receiving the ball back inside the area and lobbing the ball over Szanwald. On the rest of the second half, the winger Zagallo and Joel went out into the midfield to help on the marking, and two minutes from the end, Mazzola scored his second after receiving a pass from Evaristo, settling the score.

Meanwhile, at Granada, England met Russia again. Winterbottom picked the same team which had been unlucky to only draw in Moscow three weeks earlier, but they were second best for most of this match. Aleksandr Ivanov, winning his first cap, crossed hard and low from the right, and McDonald could only push the ball out to Simonyan. The second goal was started by Kessarev, who came up from the back and found Tsarev in space that should have been occupied by Clamp; a third pass put Aleksandr Ivanov clear. The Soviets protected their lead with some hard tackling on the England wingers. But the English ad a tactic that had been working since the 19th century: crossing from the wings onto the centerforwards, and that was how Taylor[7] scored, at 66 minutes. England gained momentum afer the goal and equalized at 85, when Haynes was fouled almost outside of the area, and the referee gave a penalty, which was converted by Finney.

Three days later, England visited Brazil at Seville. The Brazilian manager, Vicente Feola, switched Mazzola - who despite the two goals against Austria, seemed distracted regarding rumours of a possible transfer to Italy - for Vavá, while in England, Finney, due to a ankle injury, was replaced by David Pegg. Brazil played better than in the debut, especially in the first half, and had about four clear goal chances, but they were unlucky that day. England, in turn, only had one good chance, and in any case, the match remained goalless until the end.

The next day, Sweden faced Russia at Córdoba. With measured passes, Sweden cooked most of the match, and four minutes after the break, Bengt Berndtsson broke clear on the right, his attempted square pass came back off a defender, and his header sent the ball spinning in crazily at the near post. With the advantage, Sweden spent the next 38 minutes trading passes and tiring the Russians out, and in the end, Berndtsson made the second for Simonsson.

Three days later, Sweden went on to face Austria. By then, the Austrians had made five changes on their team, switching most of their defense. It worked after a fashion - 21 minutes in, Senekowitsch’s short corner was crossed in by Alfred Körner, and Buzek headed in. After this, Austria stayed in the defensive all through the match and managed to hold on to the victory.

The next day, Jaén hosted its only match - Brazil x Russia, and Russia needed to win in order to survive. Russia had done only one change - bringing in Igor Netto, recoered from an injury, while Brazil had done another three changes - Dino Sani, with a groin injury, was replaced by Zito, while Pelé (returning from a pre-tournament injury) and Garrincha replaced Vavá and Joel, respectively. And when the match started, within only three minutes, it was clear these changes were just what the team needed - in the first time he touched the ball, Garrincha went through his marker as if he wasn't even there, got into the area and hit Yashin's left post. The next minute, Pelé hit the crossbar, and in the next play, Evaristo received a pass from Didi, went through two defenders and shot from the penalty arc to open the score. After that, the match went through a few balanced phases and many phases of Brazilian dominance, and the second goal would take quite a while to come - at 77 minutes, after trading passes with Pelé, Evaristo stabbed in a ball that had come loose between him and two Russian defenders, but got a bad cut on his left shin for his troubles, when Kesarev hit it trying to kick the ball away.

Three days later, Sweden faced England at Seville. England opened the score early on, when Bobby Robson scored on a header from a pass by Reginald Berry, but Sweden equalized soon after, when Gunnar Gren (who had returned to Swedish football two yars before) scored from a pass by Simonsson. In the second half, England took the lead again when Taylor headed through a cross from Duncan Edwards, who had been maneuvering with Pegg on the left wing. A few minutes later, Sweden equalized again, with Olaf Lahtinen shotting from outside the area, but at the 78th minute, Taylor collected a low pass from Wright at the midfield and set off with Börjesson at his heels. Taylor procceeded to outrun the Swedish half and slipped the ball past the keeper.

The next day, Russia faced Austria at Granada, but despite already being eliminated, Russia wasn't willing to come out of the tournament without a win again and eliminatd the Austrians in the proccess - Austria dominated the first hour, but Buzek hit a penalty straight at Yashin when Kessarev fouled Stotz in the 55th minute. The Soviets had taken the lead when Simonyan’s centre reached Aleksandr Ivanov, who later crossed for the other Ivanov - Valentin - to score the second in a breakaway.

In the first match, at Seville, Sweden faced Brazil needing to win and hope for a Austrian victory in order to qualify, and taking advantage from a heavy pitch (from that morning's rain), Sweden managed to keep things balanced in the first half, but Brazil came back better from the break, and scored twice in quick succession - first, Zagallo hit a post and Mazzola put in the rebound, and five minutes later, Pelé scored his first goal with a powerful low shot that Svensson touched but couldn't hold. Then, at 80 minutes, Pelé headed in a corner and settled the score. Meanwhile, Gilmar broke Vacca's 1946 clean-sheet record, having been unbeaten for all the four group stage matches.

Meanwhile, England played against Austria at Córdoba, only needing a tie to advance, but even eliminated, the Austrians weren't about to make it easy. Although England dominated the whole match, Austria took the lead twice, thanks to two fortunate shots from outside the area. The English had to go and chase the result, and in the first goal, Haynes smashed the ball in from two meters after Szanwald had made an unbelievable hash of Pegg’s simple shot. In the second, Taylor scored the second from Haynes’ angled pass, and four minutes from the end, Bobby Charlton came in from the right and lobbed the ball over Szanwald to score the third.

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And so, the quarterfinal matches were defined:

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[1] - Effectively, Indonesia (but with Malaya instead of Sumatra), and which was colonized by Portugal ITTL.

[2] - Despite being present in the region since the 16th century, Portugal didn't take effective control of the Malay peninsula outside of Malacca until the 19th century, so despite Christianity being the official religion there, the area still has a sizeable Muslim population.

[3] - Of course, Austria, Swabia and Pomerania wanted no part of it. Austria and Swabia had long had their own professional leagues and much like Pomerania, which was still amateur, their federations still kept their independence from the RFB zealously.

[4] - Algeria doesn't get colonized by France ITTL, but the relative proximity and Ben Barek's success makes Algeria a good place for southern French and Provençal clubs to scout talent on. Many of the Algerian starting players by that point either play for these clubs or have done so in the past.

[5] - With Venice having control over large parts of the Dalmatian hinterland, the Venetian federation is not averse to calling up ethnic Croat players - most of them usually come from Hajduk (from Spalato), the biggest team of the Croatian community.

[6] - Born José João Altafini - just like in OTL, he's nicknamed Mazzola due to his physical resemblance to Valentino Mazzola.

[7] - Considering the different matches in the European Cups, the Munich air crash doesn't happen ITTL.

Let me know your predictions and stay tuned for Part 39!

Credit for @carlosperezesp for getting five out of 8, even if he was the only one to predict the results.
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Chapter XXXIX
Chapter XXXIX - El Rey

In the first match of the quarterfinals, Castille faced Hungary, and 12 minutes in, the hosts opened the score, when Gento beat three men on the left before scoring with a low shot from almost on the goal line. But otherwise, the stars of the match were on the defense, with the Castillian defenders dispatching all the balls that came their way, while the Hungarian defense, in turn, made sure the Castillian forwards couldn't get anywhere on the area. So the 1x0 remained and Castille was finally in the semifinals.

Meanwhile, at Barcelona, Argentina and England met again, in a match so balanced that either team could have advanced, but luck was on the English side that day. Six minutes before half-time, Charlton’s low cross from the right found two England players unmarked in front of goal. The first, Berry, slammed the ball in to open the score. At 58 minutes, Johnny Haynes broke through a tackle and galloped in on goal, doubling the English lead. A few minutes later, Taylor had to come off after being injured on a collision with Vairo, and with the numerical advantage, Argentina began going out to the attack and scored on the first dangerous attempt, when McDonald ruined his excellent tournament by hitting a goal kick straight to Angelillo, the ball eventually reaching the unmarked Héctor De Bourgoing, who scored with a low cross-shot. Argentina and had their own good chances after that: First, Sívori ran at the heart of the defence and hit the post, while Maschio got the ball in but had the goal disallowed for accidentally controlling it with his hand, but the 2x1 remained and England advanced.

Meanwhile, at Seville, France faced Bohemia, and counted with a exceptionally poor Bohemian first half, playing as if the rivals weren't even there, with the defense doing its best to keep the scoreline level as long as it could. The first goal only came shortly before the break, when Wisnieski ran onto a loose ball on the right and Dolejší couldn't rush out in time. Bohemia came back better from half-time, but took the second within ten minutes, when Fontaine headed in Piantoni’s cross. But Bohemia would start dominating the final 30 minutes soon enough. Eight minutes later, Sturm went around a defender and cracked a low shot across Abbes, and Zikán broke through a challenge to equalize. Bohemia had many good chances to score the third then and there, but the tie remained for the next 22 minutes and the match went to extra time. Bohemia began losing steam, and at 98 minutes, Vincent scored the winning goal after receiving a pass from Fontaine.

Meanwhile, Aragon returned to Valencia to face Brazil. Tejada still wasn't in condition to play, and was substituted by Ricardo Alós, Puchades was also replaced by Marti Vergés, while on Brazil, Evaristo returned to the team. The Aragonese manager, José Lasplazas, decided to bet on a more defensive posture, mosly betting on counter-attacks. While for most of the match, the defense did their part, most of the Aragonese dangerous chances came from Basora or less often, Coll, with Badenes and Alós being throroughly neutralized by the Brazilian center backs. Meanwhile, in the other end, despite having multiple corners, Brazil had no advantage on the air, Garrincha, always marked by two or three at a time, couldn't repeat the dribbles that had brought down Russia and Sweden, while Ramallets made multiple safe interventions and wasted a great deal of time. By the 69th minute, when nervousness was just setting in, Pelé, with his back to the goal, took Didi’s headed pass on his chest, flicked it inside Gensana, then let the ball bounce at last before volleying hard from close in, catching Ramallets by surprise. Aragon, predictably, tried going out to the attack to equalize, and came close at 76 minutes, when Badenes, unmarked in the area, caught a cross from Basora and then passed the ball to Alós, who sent it wide from the six-yard box. Brazil would then double its lead five minutes later, with Evaristo’s marvellous overhead kick from sixteen meters.

The first match of the semifinals pit Castille against England, in another balanced match that only pended towards Castille thanks to the referee. Despite the absence of their main centerforward, England opened the score, when Haynes beat a man on the left, chased the ball to the corner flag, and did well to get in any kind of cross. Derek Kevan met it twelve yards out from the near post, hitting a volley that sent the ball flying high past Goyo. But a few minutes, later, Castille equalized on a suspicious goal - Gento clearly used his arm to intercept a English pass (the referee deemed it accidental), and a tackle sent the ball out to Suárez free on the left. The unexceptional shot went between a defender’s legs and across the keeper. Early in the second half, Edwards and Rial got into a scuffle after a ball dispute, but the referee, who didn't see Rial hitting Edwards first, sent only the latter off. even one man down, England continued resisting well, but at 75 minutes, Haynes was taken out of the match thanks to a violent tackle by Campanal. Now two men up, Castille had little difficulty scoring twice more in the final ten minutes - First, Rial had space to come in off the wing and run clean through. McDonald made a good save — but when he punched clear, Di Stéfano returned the ball into the top corner from outside the area. McDonald could only turn to his right and watch. Finally Rial drifted along the right at walking pace, then suddenly dashed past two defenders along the goal line and scored at the near post.

Meanwhile, Brazil went to face France at Barcelona, and started on the same pace they had been in against Russia. At the first minute, Pelé lost a goal with only Abbes in front of him. The next minute, Didi crossed to Evaristo, who volleyed in to open the score, but a few minues later, France equalized, with Fontaine taking Kopa’s perfect through-pass round Gilmar for the first goal Brazil conceded in the tournament. Zagallo should have been awarded a goal when his shot hit the bar and came down over the line, but at 39 minutes, Didi’s low, long-distance shot found its way in at the far post, with Abbes only noting the danger when the ball was already going in. In the second half, Brazil dominated completely, with Pelé scoring a hat-trick; first, he tapped in when Abbes dropped Evaristo's gentle cross; then he slashed in a lucky rebound after Evaristo missed his kick. He saved the best till last, running onto Didi’s pass, lifting it up with his thigh, and volleying low to the keeper’s right. In these final minutes, Piantoni scored the second for France, but by then it was too late to react.

England came to the third-place final completely disfigured, missing McDonald, Taylor, Haynes and Clamp due to injury, plus Edwards, suspended. The only good news was the return of Finney. Meanwhile, France remained with their starting team mostly intact, except for Piantoni, who had been replaced by Yvon Douis. Fontaine capitalized on that to score four goals and isolate himself as the top scorer - he knocked in Kopa’s cut-back from the right, pivoted to put in a rebound, ran at the defence to shoot from outside of the area, and sprinted from the halfway line for his fourth. Of course, what was left of the English defense didn't help - besides some amateur marking mistakes all through the match, in the last two goals, it basically let Fontaine run unchecked from the midfield to the area. Kopa himself converted a penalty for Byrne’s foul on Wisnieski, and Douis volleyed the fourth. For the English, Finney turned inside a defender before shooting, Bryan Douglas converted a knock-down from close in, and Charlton scored the best of the lot, selling an exaggerated dummy before cutting back to the goal line and thrashing in a high shot.

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In the final, the Castillan manager, Manuel Meana, hoped he could get two things - rain before the match to get the pitch heavy, and one early goal. He got both. Castille played the ball confidently out of defence and found Rial wide on the right. His square pass reached Peiró just outside the penalty area. Peiró turned past Orlando, then past Bellini, then shot, with a ground shot firm enough to go past Gilmar’s right hand. It was the first time Brazil started behind in the score, but Instead of looking dejected as Meana hoped, the Brazilians were calling for the ball to restart the game. And they had reasons to look confident: In a bold, almost foolhardy decision, Meana hadn't set up any special scheme to stop Garrincha the way Lasplazas had done: only Lesmes marked him, giving him enough space to control the ball. Five minutes later, Brazil equalized: Garrincha went past Lesmes but topped his low cross, which found its way through to Evaristo, who lunged in to score from inside the six-yard box, and Brazil began dominating the match. At 21 minutes, Pelé hit Goyo's post with a shot from outside the area, but Castille's answer was particularly dangerous: after a corner, Di Stéfano lobbed the ball over Gilmar and Zagallo had to head it away on the line. The match remained balanced for the next ten minutes, until Garrincha and Evaristo re-ran the first goal to put Brazil in the lead.

After half-time, Brazil continued on top throughout. While Castille remaned trying to impose their slow style, Brazil kept finding breaches in the opposing defense. Pelé scored a marvellous goal, chesting Nílton Santos’ cross past Santamaría, flipping the ball over Campanal with his thigh, and volleying low past the keeper, who had no chance. Then Zagallo beat Herrera to the ball and squeezed it in at the near post. The key, as always, was Didi. Meana didn't put anyone to man-mark him, which was probably a mistake, leaving the job to two different players in different parts of the field. Didi simply flitted in and out of those areas, leaving the defenders chasing shadows. Meanwhile, Rial and Gento were nowhere to be seen, being effectively nulled by Djalma Santos (who had entered the team on De Sordi's place just for that match) and Nílton Santos. Near the end, Peiró came through the middle unchallenged to make a goal for Di Stéfano, but there was still time for Brazil to score again. After backheeling the ball to Zagallo on the left, Pelé trotted towards the centre to get between two defenders and knock a looping header just inside the post as Goyo wrapped himself around it, and so, Brazil became the first South American team to win a World Cup in Europe since 1926.

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202 goals were scored in 48 matches, for a average of 4,20 goals a match. Just Fontaine was the top goalscorer, with 13 goals, followed by Di Stéfano and Pelé, both with 8, and Zikán, with 7.


Stay tuned for the next part, which will show the 1960 European Championship!
Chapter XL
XL - The 1960 European Championship

By 1960, the qualification format for the European Nations' Cup had changed again, with the preliminaries reducing themselves only to the 16 teams that had been eliminated in 1956 and the Second round now consisting of 8 groups of four teams.

The first real surprise in the qualifiers was the elimination of Italy, that missed out by only one goal, and saw its crisis only deepen. Some started blaming the national team's recent string of failures to the overreliance of the clubs on foreign players. Meanwhile, despite the disappointment that the performance in 1958 had been, Venice took out Aragon in its group and qualified for the first time. Meanwhile, for the first time, all four British nations qualified for the European championship. and fittingly, the hosting duties went to Scotland.

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In Group 1, Scotland began the procceedings beating a Austria that had little left of the generation of 1954, but had had the benefit of being placed on a weak qualifying group, by 3x0, on the major tournament debut of Denis Law and Ian St John, who scored one each. The next day, Castille beat Ireland by 4x1. in the next round, Scotland beat the Irish by 4x2 and qualified in advance, while Austria, on a particularly fortunate day, beat Castille by 3x0. In the final round, Castille went up against Scotland needing to win to qualify, and came close. after taking 2x0, Castille rallied to take the lead in the second half, but at rthe 79th minute, St. John equalized for Scotland. Now, Austria only needed to beat Ireland to qualify, but the team had apparently gone back to its usual level after the last match, and lost by 1x0, a result that qualified Castille to the quarterfinals.

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In Group 2, France started beating England by 3x1. Despite not counting with Fontaine, who had injured himself before the tournament, and nearly the entire defense having changed, most of the attack of 1958 was still there. The next day, Venice beat an aged Welsh side by 2x1. However, in the next round, France beat the Venetians by 4x1, while England recovered beating Wales by 5x1, which made the last-round Venice x England a direct match for the second quarterfinal berth. England won by 4x2, while France beat Wales by 3x1 and qualified with the top spot.

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In Group 3, Russia won its first match against Burgundy by 2x1, while two days later, Germany beat Swabia by 4x0. In the second round, Russia all but clinched its qualification beating Germany by 2x1. the next day, Swabia recovered by beating Burgundy by 3x1. In the final round, Burgundy crumpled completely against Germany and lost by 7x0, while Swabia beat Russia by 2x1 the next day. In the end, the definition of the berths came down to goal difference and their initial loss cost Swabia dearly, as Germany and Russia advanced.

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In Group 4, Bohemia began its attempt to defend its title tying against Serbia by 2x2. Two days later, Hungary, by then carrying out a extensive renovation of its team, with only Grosics and Kubala still left from the 1954 team (Puskás being unavailable due to injury), beat Croatia by 3x1. In the next round, Bohemia beat Croatia by 2x1, while the next day, Serbia snatched a tie against Hungary. The results left Hungary and Bohemia fighting for a quarterfinals berth in the last round. A tie might have benefited both, but since their match was before the Serbian one, no one knew what result they'd need, so both played to win. Hungary came in the front with Tichy, but late in the first half, Bohemia took the lead, and then held it until the end. The next day, Serbia beat Croatia by 3x2 and qualified to the quarterfinals.

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The quarterfinals would feature the hosts playing against their "Auld Enemy", in a balanced match. Scotland opened the score with Graham Leggat, but Bobby Charlton equalized shortly after half-time, and eventually, the match went into extra time, where Alex Young scored the winning goal, but the bad news was that St. John had been injured and would probably miss out the next two matches, if Scotland advanced that far.

Meanwhile, at Edinburgh, in another match only decided at half-time, France eliminated Castille. The next day, Germany faced Serbia. Serbia surprisingly opened the score and held out for over one hour before conceding one goal. However, Germany couldn't get through the Serbian defense for the rest of the match and extra time, which meant that the match would have to be replayed the next day. In the playoff, Serbia continued surprising, first holding together in the early part of the first half, then opening a 3x0 advantage in the early second half. Germany tried to react, but the match ended on a 3x1, and Serbia qualified to the semifinals for the first time. Meanwhile, Russia, facing Bohemia, their 1956 finals opponent, won by 3x0, in the only quarterfinals match decided on regular time, and returned to the semifinals.

In the semifinals, Scotland had little trouble beating a exhausted Serbian side by 4x1 and advanced to the final. Mudie, who had been relegated to the reserve after 1958 and returned after St. John's injury, proved to be a competent substitute and scored the two first goals. Meanwhile, at Edinburgh, Russia opened the score against France at only 5 minutes, but their dreams of returning to the final were shattered by Cisowski, who scored twice and put France in the final. To Russia, only the third-place final was left, and in another grueling match, Russia beat Serbia to score its second consecutive podium.

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In the final, Scotland opened the score early, with Law, but that lead didn't last one minute, as Vincent equalized right after. The score remained level almost into half-time, but two minuted before the break, Cisowski scored, putting France in the lead. In the second half, both teams went to the attack, and France scored the third with Wisniewski. Scotland tried to react soon after, scoring with John White, but France retained its two-goal lead after Cisowski scored a few minutes later. All might have seemed lost, but with the 100,000 strong crowd on their side, Scotland wasn't about to give up. With pressure mounting, Young finally punched a hole in the French back line with 15 minutes remaining. The French were rocked, and by the time they regained their composure the 4x3 advantage had become a 5x4 deficit: two goals in a minute from Mudie, and after that, France wasn't able to stage the same kind of comeback that the Scots had, and Scotland won its first continental title.

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Stay tuned for the next part, which will show the prelude to the 1962 FIFA World Cup!
Chapter XLI
Chapter XLI - The Return of the Queen

For 1962, the hosting duties had gone to the Americas again. Peru, Paraguay and New Granada had expressed some interest in hosting before 1956, but the sudden expansion of the tournament had them all shelving their plans, but just before the 1958 FIFA Congress, Argentina picked up the slack, buoyed after their 1957 South American championship title, and won the hosting duties unopposed.


The hosting selection came at a moment of change in local football. Since the beginning, the national championship had been almost entirely centered in Buenos Aires and environs, and since the professional era, any participants in the regular league system had to be directly affiliated to AFA, a distinction only awarded to teams from the Buenos Aires region, and a few select teams from Rosario and Santa Fe. There was football outside of these regions, but outside of them, the teams were only indirectly affiliated to AFA and couldn't participate. Distance was also a factor keeping teams from more distant regions out of the league, but by the 1950s, the hinterland teams had been seeking some representation on national competitions, and under the chairmanship of Raúl Colombo, a new system was devised, cutting the length of the regular league, now renamed the Metropolitan championship, by half and reserving the second semester for the National championship, which would feature the best teams from the regional leagues and the Metropolitan championship. However, the Buenos Aires sides would eventually remain dominant even in the National.

That would have its implications on the choice of host cities. Now, holding the entire championship in and around Buenos Aires, like in 1930, was no longer feasible, and as a consequence, the choice of hosting cities went out to the hinterlands. Now, only six venues would be in the Buenos Aires region, and eight would be elsewhere in the country, although these latter venues would be used mostly in the group stage. The only stadium from 1930 that made the 1962 list was the Doble Visera at Avellaneda. Meanwhile, the format of the final tournament was also changed. The 1958 tournament had lasted an entire month, and in a attempt to shorten the length, no matter how slightly, the format changed to five groups of four teams, which also led to the quarterfinals being replaced by a second group stage, with four groups of three, which meant that now two of the best third-placers had the possibility of qualifying.


Stay tuned for the next part, with the qualifiers.
Chapter XLII
Chapter XLII - I Believe In The Wheel of Fortune


In Group 1, France was considered the favourite for the berth, considering their recent good performances and the elative weakness of the other competitors, but they started the proceedings losing to Bulgaria at Sredets[1], and Bulgaria soon began topping its group after beating Ireland as well in the second match, while France only tied against the Papal States. However, France recovered in the third round, beating Ireland by 5x1, while Bulgaria lost at Rome, two results that left the group hotly disputed, with only two points separating the leader, Bulgaria, from the lantern[2], Ireland. The third-round result was the beginning of a bad run for the Irish, who lost to the Papal States at Rome by 5x0 and then, to Bulgaria at Dublin by 3x1, and fell out of the dispute. By the eve of the last round, Bulgaria, France and the Papal States were all tied in points, with the Romans having a slight advantage on goal difference. Bulgaria needed to beat the Papal States at home and hope that Ireland took at least one point from France to qualify. For the first 45 minutes, it seemed like that would happen, as Bulgaria led by 2x1 at half-time, while, unbeknownst to them, no goals had been scored in the other match. However, the Romans rallied in the second half, and with two goals from the naturalized Brazilian Dino da Costa, won the match. Meanwhile, Ireland only lost to France by 2x1, a result that qualified the Papal States to the World Cup for the first time.

In contrast, Group 2 was decided rather quickly, with England shooting up to the front of the group early on and leaving all its rivals behind.By the end, the only thing keeping England from a perfect record was a tie against Navarra at Bilbao, which didn't even help the Navarrese much, given they ended up five points behind.

In Group 3, Austria took advantage of playing its first two matches at home to take the lead early, but lost steam in the next two away matches. By the fourth round, Austria and Germany found themselves tied with 5 points, followed by Ruthenia, with 4, and Denmark, with two. The fifth round match between Germany and Austria soon took the climate of a anticipated final, especially once Denmark beat Ruthenia at Kiev, eliminating both of them. Playing at home, Germany had little trouble winning by 2x0, and repeated the score in the final match against Denmark to head on to another tournament.

In Group 4, after the first four round, Castille's qualification seemed like a foregone conclusion, with the Fúria three points above its main competitors, Venice and Turkey. Both of Castille's next matches would be against these two, but a tie against Venice might be enough to put Castille in the Cup, if Turkey lost points to Albania. On the Turkish front, that was exactly what happened, but Castille lost to Venice, resurrecting both its rivals in one stroke and leaving the definition for the last round. The last match would be just as tough, with Castille struggling to win by 1x0, but that was enough to qualify Castille once more.

Group 5 was much of the same as Group 2, Hungary making short work of a weak group, and by then it had been 16 years ever since Hungary had had any real challenge in the qualifiers...

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Group 6, in contrast, was hotly disputed from the outset. After three rounds, Burgundy led with 4 points, followed by Wales and Portugal, with 3, and Aragon, with 2. In the fourth round, Aragon awoke to the dispute again and beat Portugal by 5x1, while Burgundy smashed Wales by 9x3. In the following round, Wales lost again, this time 3x0 to Aragon, while Burgundy lost to Portugal at Lisboa. That result wasn't enough to breathe some life back into Portugal's chances, given their clear disadvantage on goal difference, so the last round match between Aragon and Burgundy, now both tied at 6 points, would decide the qualified team. Aragon played away, but won by 3x0, and qualified to another Cup.

In Group 7, Iceland quickly established itself as the group's punching bag, and Estonia, Norway and Scotland had a close dispute in the first few rounds, but Estonia fell out of the running after two consecutive losses to Norway and Scotland, and thus, the last-round match between Norway and Scotland would be the decisive one, with Scotland needing only a tie to qualify. Despite going well in the qualifiers, Scotland was undergoing something of a crisis, having lost to England by 9x3 earlier in the year and in general, not being convincing when playing against tougher opposition, and found Norway a tougher opponent than expected - the Norwegians took the lead twice and Scotland only managed to snatch the tie it needed only seven minutes from the end.

In Group 8, Italy finally looked as it it was seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. In the first three rounds, the dispute within the group was rather close, but in the two following ones, Italy, that already led the group before, won its matches, and with Bosnia, Croatia and Wallachia stumbling over each other, Italy secured its qualification with one round to go.

In Group 9, Lithuania quickly settled for a role as the punching bag of the group - with Bohemia and Poland winning all their matches against them, the decision of the berth came down to the direct matches between them. Poland won by 3x2 at Kraków, but Bohemia won by 4x0 at Prague, and qualified on goal difference.

In Group 10, Russia won all its four matches and was the only one on that edition to achieve a perfect record.

In Group 11, Serbia qualified again, eliminating Savoy and Swabia.

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South America

In the preliminaries, most of the same teams that had already qualified in 1957 and 1959 qualified again, except for Peru, who was eliminated by New Granada. In the final tournament, with South America already having two berths for the current champion and the hosts, only two teams would be eliminated. Brazil had won the 1959 tournament with most of the players that had won the world title, and come out with the title. Being already qualified, and having nothing to prove, Brazil sent in a experimental side to Argentina. After the first four rounds, Uruguay and Argentina were the clear frontrunners, having won all their matches, followed by Chile, with 5 points, Brazil, with 4, New Granada, Ecuador and Paraguay, all tied with 2, and Charcas, with 1. So far the biggest disappointment was Paraguay - the team had lost many of its 1958 first team players to Spanish clubs after the tournament and the team Paraguay had to do with was scarcely a shadow of the old one.

In the fifth round, Argentina stumbled for the first time, tying against Chile, but fortunately for them, Uruguay lost to Ecuador, while in the other matches, Brazil beat Paraguay and worsened the Albirroja's situation, while Charcas beat New Granada and seemed to be trying to revive its fortunes. In the following round, Argentina tied again, this time with Paraguay, and let Uruguay catch up to it after the Charruas beat Chile by 3x2.Meanwhile, New Granada received a boost to its qualification chances after beating Ecuador by 4x2 and after Charcas lost to Brazil by 2x0. In the last round, Argentina and Uruguay would play for the title, with Argentina having the advantage of the tie. Meanwhile, the last two berths for the World Cup would be decided on Paraguay x New Granada and Charcas x Ecuador, with Ecuador and New Granada having thr advantage of the tie. In the Neogranadine match, knowing they needed to win, Paraguay went out to the attack, but for the first time in the tournament, the Neogranadine defense held together and managed to hold the 0x0 to the end and qualify for the first time. Meanwhile, Ecuador beat Charcas by 5x2, with a hat-trick from Alberto Spencer, and also qualified for the first time. As for the title, Argentina held on to a tie, and won the continental title again.

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The African and Asian zones had been reorganized after 1958, with Syria leaving to join the Asian confederation, while the number of entrants for 1962 grew. The 9 teams now would be divided into three regionalized groups, the champion of which would go into another triangular to define the one qualified team. In Group 1, Algeria, that after 1958, had been regularly playing against European teams and updating its tactics, qualified over Morocco and Tunisia with ease. Meanwhile, Abyssinia counted with Egypt's tie against Nubia at Soba to advance. Meanwhile, In Group 3, the Gold Coast prevailed over Nigeria and Boa Esperança[3] to advance. In the final round, Algeria won both of its home matches and tied the away ones to qualify for the second time.

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In the other hand, the Asian qualifier was entirely organized in a knockout format, much like the 1958 African one had been. That edition saw multiple new entrants, mainly, Siam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cyprus and Australia. None of these debutants had much luck, with Australia coming the closest to qualify, while Cyprus would soon leave AFC and join UEFA. Iran and Korea emerged as the champions of their respective zones and faced off for a berth in the final tournament. Iran won the first match, at Isfahan, by 4x1, but Korea won by 1x0 at Hanseong[4], forcing a play-off at Shanghai, which was won by Iran.

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North America

The North American qualification format changed again for 1952, with the teams divided into six regionalized groups, with the winner of each team qualifying to the final round, which would be hosted by one of the qualified teams, in a format very similar to the South American one. Two new entrants came up - Suriname and Iroquoia. In the latter, football was by no means the most popular sport, so the poor Iroquois performance was little surprise, although they managed to snatch a win against Canada.

In the final round, Louisiana tried to make the most of the home factor and was the only team to beat Mexico, but a loss to Guatemala put them level in points with Mexico, and thanks to a better goal difference, Mexico went to its fourth consecutive tournament.

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And thus, the groups were drawn:

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[1] - OTL Sofia

[2] - Last-placed team. Name comes from lanterne rouge, the competitor in last place in the Tour de France.

[3] - South Africa, which ITTL, was colonized by Portugal.

[4] - OTL Seoul.

Let me know your predictions and stay tuned for Part 43!
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Group 1: Argentina, Serbia, Italy, Ecuador
Group 2: Brazil, Bohemia, Castille, Mexico
Group 3: England, Chile, Scotland, Iran
Group 4: Germany, Russia, Paraguay, Papal States
Group 5: Hungary, Aragon, Algeria, New Granada

This 5 group format is really interesting! I might just try it one day, because it opens some possibilities :D
Chapter XLIII
Chapter XLIII - Winds of Change

Group 1

After the 1958 Cup, the South American teams began pushing for some form of limitation on players representing more than one national team - Castille had already reached the final with a team half-made up of South Americans, and after the tournament, the European clubs had gone shopping for the players that had stood out in the Cup. On Argentina, the keeper Rogelio Domínguez had been signed by Real Madrid, Paraguay lost their entire forward line and a few other players as well, and even Brazil had its own losses, with Evaristo being signed by Barcelona and Didi going to Real Madrid (although he returned to Brazil after only one season), and that's not counting other players that were tempted, but remained in their clubs. The matter went to the 1960 FIFA Congress, and the idea found support with other European nations that occasionally lost players to neighbouring stronger leagues, and a motion was passed forbidding a player that had already represented one team in a World Cup (qualifiers included) from playing for another team on a World Cup, although those who had debuted for their new teams before 1960 were grandfathered in.

The opening match of the Cup would pit Italy against Argentina. Even with the restrictions, Italy still came up with their fair share of foreigners, with Brazilian Emanuele Del Vecchio and Argentine Ernesto Cucchiaroni on the attack (both of them having already played for their national teams before, but not on World Cup matches, which made them eligible), and Venetian Lorenzo Buffon (who had never been capped for his national side, having spent years in the shadow of Beara and his usual reserve, Narciso Soldan) on the goal. Impelled by the crowd, the hosts went to the attack, but found themselves being foiled by the Italian defense, that held out until Buffon punched away a free kick by Raúl Belén and Sívori headed over two defenders into the net. Argentina continued attacking, trying to decide the match, but fell victim to a counter-attack only three minutes from the end, when Aurelio Milani shot from outside the area after receiving a through ball from Bruno Mora.

Two days later, at the Fortín de Liniers, Ecuador made its World Cup debut against Serbia, and from the outset, seemed determined to not to be the punching bag experts predicted them to be, and opened the score at only 11 minutes, with Carlos Alberto Raffo (naturalized Argentinian and, at 36 years old, the oldest player on the squad). Serbia equalized at the half-hour mark, with Vladica Kovačević, but the Ecuadorians continued putting up a hard fight, and took the lead again with Alberto Spencer early in the second half. Kovačević equalized again at the 78th minute, but four minutes from the end, Spencer scored again and gave Ecuador its first World Cup victory, right on its debut.

Three days later, Ecuador returned to the field to face Italy. Buoyed after holding the hosts to a tie, Italy seemed to confirm its favouritism early on, opening a 3x0 advantage in only 11 minutes (two from Del Vecchio and another from Milani). But the Ecuadorians remained persisting and pulled one back with Raffo at 21 minutes. The 3x1 remained onto half-time, and after the return, Bruno Mora scored the fourth for Italy. But just when they were sure they had it made, Clímaco Cañarte hit a poor, low corner shot on the right post. Guarneri could have cleared it with ease, but somehow let the ball through, to Buffon and the rest of the defense's indignation, and with the defense destabilized due to the mutual recriminations, Spencer scored twice more in the next 20 minutes and now Ecuador, against all odds, had one foot in the second round.

The next day, Argentina faced Serbia, and found it as hard to get through the Serbian defense in the first half as it had been to get through the Italian one previously. In addition to that, they ceded multiple counter-attacks, but the Serbian attack wasn't any more productive than the Italian one had been, but one minute before the break, Argentina finally opened the score, when Angelillo received the ball from Maschio and went through two men before shooting. In the second half, Argentine returned better and scored the second within ten minutes, with Angelillo again, but a few minutes later, Angelillo caught a injury and spent the rest of the match limping on the left wing, stopping Argentina's offensive momentum. Fortunately, Serbia couldn't do much either, and Argentina was even able to score the third in the last minute, on a free kick by De Bourgoing.

Four days later, Ecuador faced Argentina. The Ecuadorian qualification was not entirely assured, since if Italy won their match, there was still a chance other teams could pass it in the third place ranking, so Ecuador tried to stay on the defensive and try to concede as little goals as possible. For most of the first half, it seemed like it might work, as Ecuador opened the sore at 24 minutes. From Raffo's free kick, the ball was scrambled away, but Jorge Bolaños regained possession and passed it for Spencer to score. Argentina soon began gaining control of the match, but was unable to score. Nine minutes into the second half, Argentina finally equalized when José Sanfilippo shot low from the edge of the area. Argentina continued attacking and scored another two times in the next fifteen minutes, with Belén and Sívori, and Maschio settled the score at the 77th minute.

Meanwhile, Serbia faced Italy at Liniers needing to win, and win big, to have a chance at qualifying as one of the best third-placers, and the mission got even harder when only two minutes in, Šoškić made a mess of Milani's cross shot and set up a open goal for Mora. Serbia got some control of the match after that, equalized with Šekularac and carried the tie into half-time. In the second half, Giacomo Bulgarelli scored twice and put Italy firmly in the front. Serbia still managed to pull one back with Vojislav Melić eight minutes from the end, but it wasn't enough.

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Group 2

The first match of the group would feature Castille and Mexico. The initiative intially lay with Mexico, who went all out in the first few minutes and opened a 2x0 advantage within 8 minutes, goals from Alfredo del Águila and Salvador Reyes. But soon enough, Castille got a grip, started attacking and Carbajal became the man of the match for the Mexicans, stopping three goals that looked certain, although he still conceded one, when Peiró headed in a cross from Enrique Mateos. In the second half, Gento equalized for Castille, and when it looked like the match would end in a tie, Gento sped on the left and crossed to the area, Jáuregui failed in intercepting it, leaving Peiró open to score the winning goal.

The next day, Brazil debuted at Rosario against Bohemia. By then, despite the manager having changed (Vicente Feola resigned due to illness and was replaced by Aymoré Moreira), the preparation for the Cup remained the same, and so did the team, with the only differences being the central defenders (Zózimo and Mauro in the place of Bellini and Orlando), and Mazzola, who thanks to Evaristo being unavailable, was now definitely in the starting team. The match remained balanced until shortly before the half-hour mark, when Pelé risked a shot from outside the area and opened the score, and then Brazil began dominating the rest of the first half, scoring the second sometime before the break, with Mazzola. After the break, Bohemia's defense got itself together, and Bohemia began betting on counter-attacks, eventually equalizing withTomáš Pospíchal and Josef Jelínek. Brazil's attacks only bore fuit again at 75 minutes, when Pelé scored the winning goal on a penalty kick.

Three days later, Bohemia faced Castille needing to win to keep its chances alive. The first half was quite dreary, with neither team creating any chances. In the second, Castille dominated, but couldn't get close to the Bohemian goal either. The match's only goal came out of a defensive blunder in part of the Castillians, with Santamaría trying to pass to Reija, then losing the ball to Adolf Scherer, who put Jürgen Moll clear to chip over the diving keeper. Scherer would also have a goal disallowed for offside with two minutes left.

The next day, Mexico and Brazil met at Santa Fe. The first half of that match also ended without goals, but not for lack of trying on the Brazilian part. Only in the second half, Pelé broke away from his markers and created both of the Brazilian goals: First he beat two men, lost the ball in a tackle, eventually won it back, and crossed for Zagallo to run in and score with a diving header. The second goal was all Pelé’s own work - walking the ball along the right touchline, he nutmegged one player, went past three more, disentangled himself inside in the area, and shot left-footed into the bottom corner.

Four days later, Mexico received Bohemia at Santa Fe, and immediately conceded the fastest goal in a World Cup until then: Masopust wandered through to set up Václav Mašek on the left, and the shot rolled under Carbajal. But Mexico quickly reacted, and led the match before the half-hour mark, with first Isidoro Díaz sweeping past two men before blasting the ball in, and later, Del Águila went one better by beating three for the second goal. That particular result eliminated Bohemia, so in the second half, the Bohemians went to the attack, and equalized with Jozef Adamec at the 58th minute. Close to the end, Mexico had a penalty in its favor, but Schrojf saved it and guaranted the Bohemian qualification.

Meanwhile, at Rosario, Brazil faced Castille again, but once again, seemed unconvicing on the first half. Castille controlled the first half and Adelardo opened the score at 35 minutes from outside the area, while the ball wasn't going anywhere near Pelé or Mazzola. In the second half, Brazil went for a more offensive posture, and Castille, feeling the pressure, backed down, and after multiple attacks, Brazil finally scored, with Pelé volleying in Zagallo's centre, but soon after the shot, he felt something give way in his groin and spent the rest of the match limping in the right wing. The 1x1 remained until the end, although in these final minutes, Castille had a goal from Peiró's overhead kick controversially disallowed. By the next day, it was clear that Pelé wasn't going to be able to play until after the Cup, and the title, that seemed like a foregone conclusion before the Cup, came into doubt.

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Group 3

In the first match of the group, Iran made its debut against Chile at San Miguel de Tucumán. It was not exactly an auspicious debut, with the Chileans dominating the entire match. Iran held itself well in the first half, only conceding one goal (courtesy of Leonel Sánchez), but found itself unable to resist the Chileans in the second half, with Honorino Landa and Jaime Ramírez widening the Chilean advantage. Parviz Koozehkanani pulledone back for Iran near the end, but Sánchez scored again to settle the score.

The next day, Scotland and England met at Salta, and the Scots dominated the actions in the early part of the match, with Springett having to save a shot from Denis Law before the first ten minutes were through, but at 13 minutes, Davie Wilson caught a cross from Law and opened the score for Scotland. England began reacting, and midway through the first half, Bill Brown pulled a difficult save after a shot from Stan Anderson. England continued dominating the second half and at some point equalized with Johhny Haynes, but the goal was disallowed because the ball apparently hadn't gone over the line. Two minutes from the end, Peter Swan accidentally touched the ball with his hand inside the area, and Eric Caldow converted the penalty kick to give Scotland the victory.

Three days later, England and Iran traveled to Santiago del Estero, and England opened a 2x0 advantage within eight minutes. First, five minute in, after a free kick by Ray Wilson, Taylor dodged Jamali and shot to open the score. Three minutes later, Jimmy Greaves scored the second after a pass from Bryan Douglas. At the 40th minute, Johnny Hayns passed the ball on the left to Bobby Charlton, who crossed for Taylor head the ball in and score the third. Although England continued controlling the match, Iran managed to get its defense together in the second half and hold the English at bay. On the other hand, they could barely threaten the English goal, so the match ended with the same 3x0 it was at half-time. Said result also eliminated Iran unless they somehow pulled a miracle in the third round.

The next day, Scotland visited Chile at San Miguel de Tucumán, and started the match on a offensive posture. The goal took only 17 minutes to come, as St. John crossed the ball to Wilson, who shot from near the penalty spot to open the score. Chile tried to react, but Scotland soon began closing spaces and forcing the Chileans to risk long shots, with little success, and with the victory, Scotland advanced with one match to go.

Four days later, Chile faced England at Salta, with both teams needing to win to advance, but England quickly took control of the match. At 17 minutes, Charlton went past his man and crossed for Taylor to beat Escuti with a header. Navarro saved the ball with his hand on the line, and Flowers converted the resulting penalty kick. When the defence backpedalled, waiting for another dart on the outside, Charlton simply shot with his right foot, all the way along the ground just inside the far post. Greaves put in the loose ball when Escuti saved from Douglas, and only when all was lost, Chile managed to pull one back, when Leonel Sánchez scored from a tight angle.

Meanwhile, Scotland traveled again, this time to Santiago del Estero to face the already-eliminated Iran, and looking to secure the top spot, enveloped Iran completely in the first half. At the 18th minute, John White received a pass from St. John to open the score.At the 34th, St. John passed the ball to Alex Scott, who beat Mirzaei and crossed into the area. St. John was already there, and he brought the ball down cleverly before sending it into the net from the goal area. Two minutes later, Law rceived a pass from Wilson and got his own in. However, in the second half, with the score seemingly settled, Scotland relxaed visibly and gave enough space for Iran to try to react. At 56 minutes, Hamid Shirzadegan received a cross from Koozehkanani and tried to shoot. Brown managed to palm it away, but Emmanuel Baba caught the rebound and scored the Iranian honor goal. After that, Scotland grew more alert on the defense, and the 3x1 remained until the end.

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Group 4

The first match of the group would feature the Papal States making their debut against Germany. The inclusion of Schnellinger and Schulz in the defense made the Germans more physical than in 1958, especially with Szymaniak and Erhardt still around. Germany opened the score at 5 minutes, with Seeler, but the Romans tied six minutes later, with Giampaolo Menichelli. Three minutes after that, Gino Stacchini broke his ankle after Szymaniak’s sliding tackle and was out of commission for the rest of the match. The match got heavy, but the referee kept things from escalating, and with the numerical advantage, Germany scored twice more in the next 20 minutes, with Schäfer and Seeler, and in the second half, Albert Brülls settled the score.

After missing out in 1958, Uruguay took a new generation to the Cup, with the highlights being the midfielder Pedro Rocha and the unpredictable winger Luis Cubilla. Their debut would be against Russia, that had already beaten them by 5x0 at Moscow in a friendly two months before the Cup, but regardless of previous history, they mostly dominated the match in the first half. However, they started behind late in the first half, when Chislenko, on a counter-attack, beat Pérez to make a volleyed goal for Mamykin. In the second half, José Sasía equalised from a loose ball following a free-kick, and although Uruguay lost Eliseo Álvarez due to injury midway through the second half, it held out until the last minute, when Ivanov scored on a counter-attack.

Three days later, Russia faced the Papal States at La Plata, and the Russians started in devastating manner, opening a 2x0 advantage in only three minutes. The first one was the result of a net-bursting shot by Igor Chislenko, and the next one by Streltsov, who scored after some magnificent ball play by the forwards. There was a period after that when it seemed the Romans could revive, and at the 27th minute, Dino received a pass from Giancarlo De Sisti (who had entered the team on Stacchino's place) and scored. However, that period didn't last long, and soon Russia had the initiative back, and wouldn't lose it. At the 71st minute, Russia finally scored the third, off a Roman defensive blunder - on a Russian attack, the defender Amedeo Stenti let Viktor Ponedelnik's shot go between his feet and Ghezzi was helpless to stop the ball from crossing the line.

The next day, Germany faced Uruguay at Mar de Plata, and even with Rocha's fine football and Sasía's heart weren't enough for Uruguay to put up a decent fight. With Cubilla and Langón injured, the team lost power on its right wing, and plus, Germany also played a heavy football, with the complacency of the referee, who was too soft on both teams' tackling. Anyway, Uruguay showed some dominance in the first minutes, and after missing a good early chance, opened the score when Cabrera headed in a cross from the right, but Germany didn't take long to take the lead - first Helmut Haller equalized on a penalty kick, then four minutes later, Schäfer scored the second after catching a rebound from Haller's volley. Then, four minutes into the second half, Willi Koslowski headed in a corner kick and scred the third. After that, there were no more chances, just tackling, and by the end, the referee finally decided to take control of the match and sent off Szymaniak and Cabrera when they started fighting. In any case, Germany had finally broken out of the group stage, for the first time in twenty years, and on the first Cup since the founding of the Reichsliga, to boot.

Three days later, Uruguay received the Papal States, both teams needing to win by a decent goal difference to have a chance of advancing, but even dominating the match in the first half, the Uruguays couldn't find the path to the goal, and even worse, came out behind, with Alberto Orlando opening the score on a penalty kick, and later on, Dino hit a post shortly before the break. After the break, Cubilla equalized, and bad luck wrecked the Roman plans when Amos Cardarelli broke his leg. One man down, the Romans couldn't contain the Uruguayans, who scored the second with Sasía. Not five minutes after that, Dino would be rendered out of action as well, and Rocha (improvised in the centerforward) scored the third one minute before the end. Now all that was left to do was to wait for the other groups' results.

The next day, Germany and Russia played for the top spot in the group. Despite both teams being already qualified, neither wanted to be second place, given that the way the second group stage was set up, the second place in Group 4 would fall into the group of the top team of Group 1, which was likely to be Argentina. Germany had the advantage of the tie, and wound up spending most of the match in the defensive, but the Russian defense wasn't too far behind, and the 0x0 remained until the 71st minute, when Germany conceded a foul close to the area, and Ponedelnik converted the free kick. Then it was Germany's turn to start attacking, but these incursions bore no fruit.

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Group 5

The first match of the group would pit Algeria against Hungary at Córdoba. The weather that day was rainy, and the heavy pitch hampered the Algerian passing and vaoured Hungary's heavier game. Tichy opened the score with one of his trademark long shots and Puskás, by now on his fifth Cup, scored the second shortly before the break. In the second half, Abdelghani Zitouni (no relation to Mustafa) pulled one back with a close-range shot, but ten minutes later, Flórián Albert scored from the goal area to settle the score.

The next day, New Granada debuted against Aragon at Mendoza, and saw their opponents largely dominate the match in the first half, but fortunately for them, their defense worked well and kept the Aragonese at bay until the 33rd minute, when Tejada hit the bar with a free kick and Joaquín Murillo caught the rebound. The second half was little different, with the Aragonese still hammering away and New Granada occasionally pulling a counter-attack, and in one of those, Delio Gamboa was taken down in the area, and Francisco Zuluaga converted the penalty kick. The Neogranadines continued withstanding the Aragonese pressure until the end and scored their first point.

Three days later, Algeria visited Aragon at Mendoza, and counted with a dreadful performance from the Aragonese defense, especially the keeper, Pedro Estrems, to open their advantage. First, Brahimi’s low left-foot shot from outside the area went under his body and took the second on a unexceptional ground shot from Aberrrahman Meziani that seemed perfectly defensible. Tejada pulled one back shortly before the break with a good chip from a position that may have been offside, but in the second half, Algeria scored another two times, first courtesy of the Aragonese defenders, who allowed the ball to run on until Oudjani slipped it in, and later, he'd score his second after going past Rodri, and Aragon couldn't recover after that.

The next day, New Granada visited Hungary at Córdoba, having partied for the last three days since the heroic tie against Aragon, and tired either by the effort in the first match or all the celebrating, was a easy prey for Hungary. Puskás ran through alone for the first, Tichy shot the second in off a post then missed an easy chance. Puskás scored the third, although some swore it was Tichy who scored instead, Albert volleyed in an cross from Fenyvesi, and Tichy's late long-range shot was a masterpiece of precision.

Four days later, New Granada visited Algeria at Mendoza. Despite the recent loss, they still had chances to qualify, if they could beat Algeria, but it was clear that wsn't going to be an easy mission, with the Algerians on the same level as in the previous match, although this time, the Neogranadine defense had gotten itself together again. Algeria opened the score on a free kick from Mekhloufi, but other than that, had very little luck getting through the Cafeteros' defense until the 60th minute, when Abderrahman Meziani scored the second. Later, on the only dangerous chance New Granada had on the second half, Marino Klinger pulled one back for New Granada. The match ended with the 2x1, and Algeria advanced to the second round.

Meanwhile, Hungary faced Aragon at Córdoba. Hungary, already qualified, used three reserves up front but they did the job well enough for the first hour, with János Göröcs and Pavol Molnár scoring for Hungary, and other chances being mostly saved by Salvador Sadurní, but then Göröcs injured himself, and the team went on the defensive. Aragon managed to reach the tie a little after that with Ramón Villaverde, who already had opened the score in the first half, but although they needed a win, Aragon was unable to go further and with the tie, fell in the group stage.

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The composition of the groups in the second round was partly determined before the start of the tournament. Groups A and B were to include one team from each of Groups 1 through 4, and Groups C and D included the remaining four teams, while the teams from Group 5 and the best third-placers would be distributed by draw after the end of the first group stage, with seeding to ensure two teams from the same first round group wouldn't face again in the second round. In the semifinals, the winner of Group A would face the winner of Group D, while the winner of Group B would face the winner of Group C. So the groups were drawn:

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Let me know your predictions and stay tuned for Part 44!
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Group A: Argentina, Germany, Algeria
Group B: Brazil, England, Ecuador
Group C: Hungary, Scotland, Bohemia
Group D: Italy, Castille, Russia

So in the long run, does this replace the 24 team format of the OTL?