Italy, one of the unsuccessful applicants for the honour of staging the 1930 tournament, was chosen as host by the FIFA for the second FIFA World Cup.
Italy's triumph left both Argentina and Brazil disenchanted after travelling 8,000 miles (13,000 km) for just one game each in the first round. Italy beat Czechoslovakia 2-1 after extra time in the final after trailing 1-0 until eight minutes from time.
Staged between 27 May and 10 June 1934, this FIFA World Cup was markedly more encouraging than its forerunner. Thirty-two nations took part so that a preliminary round was necessary (even the hosts, Italy, had to qualify), which qualified 16 teams for the finals. As a retort to the many withdrawals of European teams four years earlier, several South American nations, such as Argentina and Brazil, did not send their best teams to Italy. Uruguay declined to participate and defend its title.
A tough struggle
Predictably then, only European teams reached the quarter-finals. The battle reached its height in Florence. In gruelling heat, a steely Spanish defence bravely resisted the hard and almost violent team of the Squadra Azzurra and at the end of extra-time the score stood at 1-1. The match was to be replayed the next day. In an effort to rejuvenate their troops, both coaches called on fresh legs (five changes in the Italian team and seven for Spain), but player after player collapsed from sheer exhaustion. Happily for the locals, the Squadra centre forward Giuseppe Meazza scored the only goal of the game. Two days later, a similar scenario took place in the semi-final against Austria, in Milan. On a San Siro pitch resembling a quagmire after a torrential storm, it was again Meazza, playing his fourth game in a week, who scored the winning goal and qualified his team for the final. Italy's opponents were to be Czechoslovakia, conquerors of Germany.
On Sunday 10 June, the whole of Italy was holding its breath. There were still twenty minutes remaining when, from a corner, the Czechoslovakia left-winger Puc put his team ahead. The stadium was silenced. With only a few minutes to go, however, the Italo-Argentinian Orsi equalised for Italy, forcing the game into extra-time. Italy suffered a blow when marksman Meazza was injured in a tackle, but he recovered sufficiently to lay on the winning goal for his team mate Schiavio. The Squadra Azzurra had displayed tenacity as well as undeniable footballing abilities and truly deserved to win.
Did You Know?
The final between the host country Italy and Czechoslovakia is also a meeting between two of the best goalkeepers of all time, Gianpiero Combi and Frantisek Planicka. Both concede a goal in regular playing time, and in extra time Italy get another to win 2-1.
Upon the final whistle, Combi sticks to the plan he made the day before the final and carries out his intention to retire immediately from football.
|adidas Golden Shoe winner||Oldrich NEJEDLY (TCH) 4|
Edmund CONEN (Germany) 4
Angelo SCHIAVIO (Italy)