70 Years After Uruguay’s Maracanazo

The impact of this match was such that many people committed suicide out of anguish, including the Brazilian goalkeeper on the pitch that day, Moacir Barbosa.
70 years after Uruguay's Maracanazo

It doesn’t matter that so much time has passed, in South America there is still talk of the “Maracanazo de Uruguay” at the 1950 World Cup. In the following article we will tell you about this feat of the Uruguayan team against Brazil at the Maracana stadium.

Brazil 1950 World Cup

The fourth edition of the World Cup took place in Brazil in 1950, after the 1942 and 1946 editions had been suspended due to the Second World War. The competition was named “Jules Rimet” in honor of the French football manager, then president of FIFA.

During this World Cup 13 teams played, 6 European and 7 American. The return of Uruguay – which had only participated in the first World Cup, in 1930, organized in his country – and the debut of England were the most important events.

The 1950 edition was characterized by being the only one without a final match. The participants were divided into four groups and had to face all teams once. The first of each group passed to the championship, in which the “all against all” was played.

The stadiums in which the 1950 World Cup took place were 6: the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, the Ilha do Retiro in Recife, the Pacaembú in Sao Paulo, the Independencia in Belo Horizonte, the Durival de Britto in Curitiba and the Eucalyptus in Porto Alegre.

The final stage

The teams that progressed to the second phase were Brazil, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay. The locals began to win 7 to 1 against the Swedes and those who would turn out to be champions drew against the Spaniards.

The Uruguayan team that won the Maracanazo.
The Uruguayan team that won the Maracanazo.

Brazil returned to scoring in the second game – 6 to 1 against Spain – and Uruguay won 3 to 2 against Sweden. In the last game the Swedes defeated Spain 3 to 1 in Sao Paulo, while Verdeamarelos and Charrúa faced off at Maracana .

The Maracanazo of Uruguay

On July 16, 1950, the last two matches of the World Cup were played, although many believe that the match between Brazil and Uruguay was the cup final. In front of 200,000 spectators, the hosts were clearly the favorites, not least because they hadn’t lost a single match.

On the other hand, Uruguay, a team that, although it was one of the most successful in the world, was considered the “weak” of the match. That same morning, the confident Brazilians already saw themselves as champions and many newspapers, not just sports, published various allusive headlines on the front page. Even the carnival floats had been prepared to celebrate the triumph of the Brazilians!

The belief that Brazil would win that game and be crowned the winner was such that the Uruguayan diplomatic corps is said to have met the players and asked them to suffer “a dignified defeat”.

How did the Maracanazo happen?

The Uruguayan coach arranged a defensive formation to avoid defeat, as the hosts had “accustomed the public” to cumbersome victories. The first surprise came immediately when, after the first 45 minutes, both teams went to the locker room without scoring a goal.

That was enough for the Verdeamarelos to become champions, but two minutes before the restart Friaca scored the first goal of the game and the party broke out at the Maracana (and throughout the country).

Uruguay's goal at Maracanazo.
Ghiggia’s goal that changed the fate of the match.

Despite this, Uruguay proved that he would not give up so easily. In the 21st minute, Juan Alberto Schiaffino equalized with an unexpected goal. The Brazilians would have been champions even with that result, perhaps for this reason they proved a bit distracted?

At 34 ‘and after a very interesting game by Obdulio Varela, Alcides Ghiggia scored the second goal for Uruguay, thus reversing the fate of the match. The Maracanazo of Uruguay thus became a reality! The final minutes were heartbreaking, as Brazil still tried to equalize, without success.

In this way Uruguay became not only world champion – for the second time -, but was able to transform a highly unfavorable match and moreover in the home of the organizer.

The repercussions were shocking… the Brazilians still claim today that it was the worst football tragedy in history, the most humiliating sporting defeat ever.

Finally, it is worth mentioning a curious fact: the Maracana stadium had an unpainted facade when the World Cup began. It was decided to wait to paint it in the color of the team that would become champion. That’s why its distinctive color is blue, in honor of the Uruguayan jersey!

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