History of the World Cup Soccer Championships 1958 Sweden v. Brazil

About the history of the 1958 World Cup Championships for soccer or football ending with Sweden v. Brazil.


The 1958 competition held in Sweden was the scene of the World Cup debut of the Russian team and of Pele, the Brazilian whose name became almost synonymous with soccer. It also signaled the beginnings of the "4-2-4" system, introduced by Brazil. Of it, English soccer authority Brian Glanville wrote, "The 4-2-4 system solved the old Brazilian problem of pivotal covering in defense by simply putting the left-half alongside the center-half. . . . Two players foraged and passed in midfield, while 2 wingers and 2 central strikers stayed in attack." Sounding a cautionary note he added, "If you had the extraordinary talent at your command that the Brazilians had, it was a marvelous system. If not, it would present as many difficulties as it solved. . . ."

In the quarter-finals the Swedes failed to make any headway against the Russians in the 1st half, but then Kurt Hamrin cut loose. On his 3rd try he headed it in, and minutes later another goal made it 2-0 for Sweden. The Germans, thanks to their persistent star Helmut Rahn, bettered the hapless Yugoslavs, 1-0. Brazil triumphed over Wales with the same score. The point, after 66 minutes of the Welch rebuffing Brazilian attacks, was by Pele, who called it the most important point he ever scored. The injured and tired Irish failed to stand up to France's 2nd-half onslaught, losing 4-0.

The semifinal game between Sweden and West Germany nearly failed to take place because the president of the German Football Association threatened to withdraw his team unless the Swedes stopped refusing to seat some of the German fans. The fans were seated. German Hans Schaefer scored Germany's point. In a play resulting in the tie point, Sweden's Liedholm brought the ball under control with his hand before dribbling it. That's how most observers called it, but not the referee, so there was no penalty. Several fouls marred the remainder of the game, in which Swedish aggressiveness compensated for lack of speed. The final score: Sweden 3, West Germany 1.

In the other semifinal game, Brazil had its way with France. It was a field day for Pele, who scored 3 of Brazil's 5. The French garnered 2.

Thus the final pitted Sweden against Brazil. Sweden took the lead within 4 minutes, with a play by Liedholm. For the 1st time in this World Cup, Brazil found itself behind--but not for long. Garrincha dribbled the ball with crazy, swerving precision and set it up for Vava to score; a combination that was successfully repeated about 20 minutes later. In the 2nd half, Pele came to the fore with a goal and the Brazilian team commenced to swarm over the field like ants: very speedy and tightly organized ants. Zagolo made it 4 for Brazil. Sweden managed a 2nd goal, this time by Simmonson, but Pele soon nailed down victory with Brazil's 5th and final point. The 4-2-4 system, the brilliance of Vava and the 17-year-old Pele, the amazing teamwork--all had paid off by putting the gold up in the hands of Brazil.

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