1934 World Cup, held in Italy
The A to Z of the 1934 tournament...A Argentina had entered, but their best three players played for Italy - "As they had Italian origin and were willing to fight and die for Italy in WWI, they were able to play for the us", is how coach Pozzo put it. This was known as Oriundi. B Brazil didn't have to qualify because Peru withdrew from the tournament, but they were knocked out at the first hurdle by Spain. C Czechoslovakia, the unlucky runners up, were 8 minutes from holding the trophy aloft. An agile, skillful team, they lost 2-1 in extra time. D Italian dictator Mussolini paid for all the participating teams expenses, and even had a cup made for the winners that dwarfed the Jules Rimet Trophy. It was aptly called the Coppa Del Duce. E England, with its stiff upper lip attitude very much at the fore, were still of the thinking that when it came to football they were above the other nations, and so still didn't enter because of the boundaries of amateur and professional football. F The tournament had the fewest goals scored to date, the 70 goals equalling the 1930 World Cup. G Germany battled their way to third place, beating neighbouring Austria 3-2 in Naples, where only 8,000 spectators came to watch. H Hugo Meisl, the coach of the Austrian 'Wunder Team', was one of the first coaches to adopt a total footballing philosophy. It nearly worked... he took the Austrians to the semi's. I Italy - the tournament favourites and eventual winners were Europe's first host nation. They were also the top scorers in the tournament. J The joyous captain of the winning team was Luis Monti, the roving Italian/Argentinian centre half who had actually played for Argentina in the 1930 World Cup final. K A knock-out format was now in favour, dispensing with the idea of group stages from the previous tournament. Sixteen teams entered. L The 1934 tournament had the lowest average attendance ever for a World Cup with a figure of just 23,235. M Rene Mercet was the Swiss referee for the Italy v Spain quarter final. His infamous performance saw him disallow 2 Spanish goals, and heavily favour the Italians. Some say that he was 'got at' by the fascist regime. He was later suspended by the Swiss FA for this reason. N All the competing non-European countries were knocked out in the first round. So the teams from South America had travelled 8,000 miles for just one match ! O Oldrich Nejedly of Czechoslovakia was the tournament's top scorer with five goals, and was also awarded the Bronze Ball for being the 3rd best player in the tournament. P Propaganda was on the agenda for fascist dictator Mussolini, and Italy's fine team gave him plenty of scope to pursue this. Q Qualification for the tournament was a first, and it threw up Spain and Hungary as dark horses. It also meant that Egypt were the first team to represent the African continent in the competition. Even the hosts had to qualify, with 32 teams in the preliminary round. R A replay was used for the first time in World Cup history after Italy and Spain drew 1-1. S The Stadium of the National Fascist Party was the venue of the final in Rome. T Edmund Conen became the first teenager to score a hat-trick in a World Cup game, when Germany took on Belgium in their opening match. U Uruguay, the 1930 World Cup winners, declined to defend the trophy on the grounds that most of Europe snubbed their World Cup... some might say that it was a bit petty, but that's the crazy Uruguayans for you. V Vittorio Pozzo used the Sistema formation on the field, using a 2-3-2-3 strategy to create a stronger defence, and was sent by the fascist dictator Mussolini to study tactics in England. W Wunderteam - the name given to the great Austrian team of this era. Many expected them to lift the trophy, but they were defeated 1-0 in the San Siro by host nation, and eventual winners, Italy. X The Final XI's
Italy: Combi, Monzeglio, Allemandi, Ferraris IV, Monti, Bertolini, Guaita, Meazza, Schiavio(1), Ferrrari, Orsi(1)
Czechoslovakia: Planicka, Zenizek, Ctyroky, Kostalek, Cambal, Krcil, Junek, Svoboda, Sobotka, Nejedly, Puc(1)
Y Yet again Luisito Monti was in the World Cup Final. In 1930 it was for runners-up Argentina, this time he won it with Italy, thereby becoming the first man to play in two finals. Z Zamora, the ace Spanish keeper, performed heroics versus Brazil in the first round, but was injured in the Quarter-Final game against Italy, and subsequently missed the replay two days later, which Spain lost.