World Cup's Craziest Moments: The Miracle of Bern
Stephen Brennan, a Brit, teacher, and soccer fanatic, will tell the World Cup's craziest moments over the next few days. This is the fourth installment. Read the others here.
West Germany versus Hungary, Final 1954
It is difficult to believe now, but in the 1950s, Hungary possessed one of the greatest teams the world had ever seen. The so-called "Magical Magyars" were undefeated for 30 games between 1950 and the start of the '54 World Cup, they won Olympic gold in '52 and had technically and tactically outclassed the inventors of the game, England, 6-3 and 7-1 in 1953. In Ferenc Puskas, they had perhaps the greatest European player of the era.
Before the two teams met in the final of the 1954 final in Bern, Switzerland, the Hungarians were expected to win emphatically. They had earlier dispatched South Korea 9-0, and Uruguay 4-2 in the semis. They had also defeated the Germans 8-3 in a group game, Puskas later writing, "I could feel the ball as a violinist feels his instrument."
Hungary was freewheeling through the competition, but how quickly the freewheel became the free fall. West Germany had shown real improvement since the first round defeat to the Hungarians, beating neighbors Austria 6-1 in the semis and were now primed to take on the world's best. Things didn't start too well, though, the Hungarians going 2-0 up after eight minutes. However, the Germans quickly gathered themselves, managing to draw level before the end of the half. Later, with only six minutes remaining, a ball slung into the box was headed away only as far as German forward Helmut Rahn, known as Der Boss, at home. Rahn moved to his left and sent a shot pinging into the bottom corner. 3-2, the miracle was complete; the World Cup was went to the Germans.