The 20th World Cup was held in Switzerland, as well as neighboring Austria, from June 28 to July 13, 1954. In a return to the straight final format after the two semi-final group stage experiments of the previous tournament, Hungary beat West Germany 3-2 in a thrilling final at the Wankdorf Stadium in Basel. It was the third time lucky for Hungary which had lost to Italy and England in previous final tournaments. Eight nations returned from 1950 Chile, Czechoslovakia, England, France, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and an Argentina side that had been disqualified because of their involvement in a riotous qualifying match against Bolivia. Newcomers were Paraguay and Sweden. The tournament took place at six venues across seven different cities.
- The most memorable moment of the tournament was the "Battle of Berne" between Hungary and Brazil. Two teams played the kind of football that made the game so special, with one goal and three red cards producing a game more closely resembling a bar room brawl than a football match! - Another great match was the British versus the Austrians. Wembley versus Vienna was always a great tussle, but this time was especially tasty because St. Jakob's stadium was only just rebuilt following an Allied bombing raid during the war.
- The final was a low-scoring affair, with the two teams canceling each other out. The game was decided by a fortunate deflection of a shot that caromed off both posts and into the net.
- Hungary - The Hungarians had a much-changed team from 1950. Seven of the team were different, including the goalkeeper. The only player present in both finals was Nandor Hidegkuti, now 33 years old. He would go on to score the winner against West Germany. - West Germany - The West Germans had a much better standard of fitness than the team that was embarrassed 10 years earlier. They had a good team with many different goal scorers. However, they did not have a good tactician. The man in charge, Sepp Herberger, had been in charge since 1928!
- The match had a cagey start – the two teams canceled each other out, trading blows but not getting anywhere. West Germany was the better side for the first half but, despite the majority of possession, couldn't find a way past the sturdy Magyars.
- The first goal came two minutes into the second half when a hopeful long ball into the box was met by the head of Ferenc Bene, who headed it down towards the goal. The ball didn't seem to be going anywhere as it was played behind the line, but it somehow bounced off the inside of the post, took an awkward ricochet off the other post, and looped over the line to put Hungary 1-0 up.
- Three minutes later, though, the Germans were level. The Hungarians were caught napping at the back and Helmut Rahn latched onto a through ball to slot it past Grosics and into the net.
- With the game tied at 1-1 and the majority of play in the West German half, Hungary broke away in the 71st minute. The ball was played to the left wing, where Nandor Hidegkuti's pass found Sandor Lorant, who crossed in for Gabor, and after a bit of pinball in the box, the ball took a lucky deflection and was awarded as an own goal, putting Hungary back in front.
- After the West Germans had equalized the game was very much in the balance. Hungary was the better team for the next 20 minutes and the last 10 minutes.
- Hungary had more shots on goal, more corners, and more possession.
- And, had the match gone on for 30 more minutes, there's every chance that Hungary would have won.
Why West Germany could have Lost
- The West Germans began the game as the better team with more possession and more shots on goal, but they couldn't score.
- Their best chance came midway through the second half when Rahn broke through and rounded the goalkeeper, but the linesman had his flag up for offside.
- However, once they had been pegged back, they never really found their stride again. They looked like they had run out of ideas, and they never really looked like they were going to score.
- The 1954 World Cup Final was a match that will always be remembered for the incredible impact it had on the game. It was the first televised World Cup Final, and it was the first to be broadcasted in color. It was also the most watched sporting event ever at that time, bringing in almost 100 million viewers, and it sparked a new wave of popularity for the game. The Final not only helped to put football on the map in terms of popularity, but it also helped to establish a new medium as well. The Final also marked the first time that a World Cup host country won the tournament, and it also happened to be the first time that West Germany ever won the tournament as well.