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Golden Team/temp

The Golden Team (in Hungarian: Aranycsapat) is a popular sobriquet for the record-breaking and world famous Hungary national football team of the 1950s, believed by many historians to be the finest national side ever in international competition. Other names commonly used for this team are The Magical Magyars or The Magnificent Magyars, and it is forever remembered as the team that launched the postwar modern football era. Among other accomplishments, it is celebrated as having partaken in five of the most discussed and written-about matches of all time:

Ranking the team among the greats

The team's intermediately short but brilliant continuum from the opening of the second half of the 20th century roughly around 1950 lasted to the eve of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. It is credited with directly leading to a kind of a future tense football that opened a new chapter for tactical calculus and positional roles in the game that would render understood contemporary concepts a game of other times; sculpting a precursor to the "Total Football" genre that later the Netherlands football scene cottoned to, and its adoption and definite perfection by succeeding Brazilian teams. Its sporting excellence was said to be so great and famous historians have taken account of its measured influence on the political and economic developments of postwar Europe after one of the most stunning and debated World Cup competitions of all time in 1954.

One of the most tremendously talented ensembles in football, it centered around half a dozen world-class prodigal players led by its talismanic catalyst, captain Ferenc Puskás teamed to superstar forward Sándor Kocsis, deep-lying striker Nándor Hidegkuti, a very lively and buccaneering winger in Zoltán Czibor, midfield choreographer József Bozsik who set the tenor of both offense and defense, first rateness in Gyula Grosics at goal, and qualifies as one of international sport's most dominant forces in the 20th century.

Hungary was possessed of the greatest and most potent partnership all time with its two redoubtable inside forwards Ferenc Puskás and Sándor Kocsis. With an alacrity and rate of their combined scoring clocked at 2.1 goals per match - a towering 159 international goals between them - they swept aside all known records to set a pace likely never to rewritten in the international game.

Before the team's arrival on football's landscape, Hungary's Imre Schlosser owned world football's premium record for most goals scored with 59 since 1921. During the team's dynamic flowering, team captain Puskás proceeded to famously break his countryman's record in 1953, and Kocsis registered his 60th goal in just his 50th game in 1955, and the "Magnificent Magyars" boasted of fielding the no. 1 and no. 2 world record holders simultaneously. Kocsis's 75 goals in just 68 games and his world record 6 hat tricks were only overcome by Pelé's 77 goals in his 92 matches. The Hungarian captain's superior tally of 84 international goals, however, would not be surpassed for over half a century.

In the postwar era with the emergence of a nascent mass media with global reach and enhanced telecommunications, increasing networked newswires and live television coverage that meet audiences as never before. Puskás could be classed, without a doubt, as football's first superstar at both club level and in the world game predating the likes of Di Stéfano, Pelé, Johan Cruijff, Gerd Müller, George Best, and Diego Maradona. This extraordinary player lived one of the most fancied and successful careers in the sport. Oft-described as short, rotund with average in-line speed but with deceptive acceleration, Puskás never did acclimate to using his nondominant right foot for anything except to dribble and rarely used his head as a mean to score but more than made up with an on-field generalship and a deep cerebral understanding of the game, and as anecdotal evidence would have, could intuitively describe other teams' tactics in less than five minutes of field play to adjust his side accordingly. It is claimed he was blessed with the most powerful drive ever seen on a left foot, an exclusive leaden snapshot that deftly tore through defenses with unerring precision, and there are claims that some of his hardest tries tore the back off the net on occasions. It is calculated that this great player who always seemed to move exhorably towards goal and drive in balls from all possible and improbable angles and distances, scored 512 1st division-class goals and a sum total 1176 goals in a 24-year career. The main transformer of a great Hungarian squad into an exceptional one arguably was the most powerful striker Europe ever produced, and Puskás was honored for being named the greatest 1st division goalscorer in the 20th century by the prestigious International Federation of Football History and Statistics or I.F.F.H.S. Pelé was voted the most outstanding player of the 20th century by the I.F.F.H.S with Puskás was not far behind ranking just behind Diego Maradona in the balloting.

Hungary put together the longest pure unbeaten run in the history of football that remains intact to the present; and forded one of soccer's timeless benchmarks by being first to break Scotland's 1888 year record of being undefeated in twenty-two consecutive matches. They furthered the old mark by nine additional games . The team also was the 20th century's first to surpass 10 games won consecutively with 12. World football's first great and masterful streak of 31 games unbeaten spanning a record four years was paved by a constant staccato of goal scoring averaging a staggering 4.48 goals per game.

At the managerial level, the man who shepherded one of the finest teams in the annals of the planet game Gusztáv Sebes knead his socialist credentials to a new style that caused world soccer to witness "socialist football" in its prime - a team game that would brush aside a collection of individuals for six years that enabled hale and hearty scoring and defending on both sides of the ball with equal vigor. The experimental stage for the tactical nous of "Total Football" was set in to be more openly explored and illustrated by the Dutch twenty years later lead by Johan Cruijff. The man responsible for gelling together the elements of this Hungarian side, Gusztáv Sebes holds the highest ratio of victories per game in the world game past 30 matches with 72.06% (49 wins, 12, draws, 7 defeats). The legendary Vicente Feola (1955-1966) of Brazil owns the second highest ratio with 71.88% (46 wins, 12 draws, 6 defeats).

The entry of this famed eleven into the 1954 FIFA World Cup showed a quality in offensive throughput and skill ever seen in FIFA World Cup competition. Football historians often relate to the 27 goals (5.4 goals per game) and a goal differential of +17 also as records likely never to be passed in the more cautious contemporary game.

Another standout and prestigious quality is its unique distinction for setting the strongest Elo football rating ever recorded with 2173 points (June 1954) also the second highest of 2156 in 1956. To caliper the relative power of this team across different eras, soccer's most fabled side, Brazil logged the third highest Elo rating with 2151 points when its theoretical power peaked after the 1962 FIFA World Cup championship game. It remains to be seen if this coveted football touchstone can be reached again, but up to then and presently, in the abstract and on paper, the Hungarian team of 1954 could claim to hold international football's acme strength level.

During the team's prime years, Hungary could lay claim to holding the highest plateau in Elo ratings in the mythical 2100 point band the longest, an incredible 24 consecutive game streak from June 20th 1954 to May 19th 1956. Most pundits forecast this elevated performance likely also will never be paralleled. According to http://www.eloratings.net, only three other nations have vied to pass the ELO 2100 mark, Brazil (high: 2153), Argentina (high: 2112), and France (high: 2105). The second longest streak for consecutive games with a rating of +2100 was 15 games by Brazil from Aug. 10, 1997 to Feb. 9 1998.

By 1949, the team was able to surpass milestones not set before or since their arrival. Tradition and soccer purists agree that "The Magnificent Magyars" made their debut on June 4th 1950 to begin what was to become a legendary sojourn as high mandarins of football that only came to an end in February of 1956. During a vaunted six year odyssey that many, inside and outside the game, compared to a safari on the international stage, barring the 1954 World Cup final that proved highly controversial which this article will cover later, they were undefeated in class-A events with a ledger that is inconceivably remarkable. They earned 42 victories, 7 draws and suffered no defeats with an unquenchable thirst for goals and traditional virtues of resolute defending. Using a broader view of their streak - from May of 1949 - using the same criteria to the end, the team can reset their record to 49 victories, 8 draws, and 1 loss - a virtuoso campaign that captivated audiences worldwide and earned the team millions of surrogate fans. From June of 1950 to February of 1956, an expanse of fifty matches that matched their golden halcyon period, an extraordinary 215 goals were scored on the sport's highest plane.

The 1952 Olympics and the road to world fame

Hungary arrived to the 1952 Summer Olympics to showcase their wares on a torrid pace averaging a torrential 5.27 goals in their last 15 FIFA internationals. Exposure of the team to the world press opportuned by the Olympic games gave Hungary a chance at a world premier outside the Iron Curtain and headlines started to be quickly garnered

With a mercurial fleet of goal scoring forwards Puskás, Sándor Kocsis, and super-sub Péter Palotás the team smashed through the playoff field at Helsinki in a five-game demonstration of power and sturdy defense, scoring 20 goals and allowing 2. One of the more commented matchups was the semi-final between Sweden, the defending Olympic champion from the 1948 edition and a much-fancied team, and the relatively unknown essence from Hungary. In a performance highly rated as one of their finest, a Puskás first minute goal lit the becomings of complete game in every sense, and their 6-0 win was so comprehensive that it first curried the attention and favor of some influential figures in European football circles. In the stands that day was Stanley Rous, secretary general of the English football association and future FIFA president who congratulated his counterpart with an offer to visit Wembley. In the final, the team blunted the world's seventh best team, Yugoslavia 2-0 and was past liftoff as one of Europe's best teams. Remarkably, the 1952 Summer Olympics provided a brief but uplifting interlude of joy and pride for a small resilient nation in Hungary of just over nine and a half million only seven years removed from the devastation, tragedy, and displacement of World War II before passing into the orbit of a post-war communist police state. In an achievement that defied all sporting expectations, Hungary compiled an amazing and improbable Olympic record managing to finish third behind the United States and the USSR for medals, earning 16 gold medals with a total count of 42.

Proceeding Olympic gold at Helsinki, Switzerland entertained Hungary's next game in a Dr. Gerõ International Cup game, a regional tournament and forerunner to today's European Football Championship in Bern and found itself on the receiving end of an uncomfortable 0-2 scoreline in just the 11th minute. A 31st minute substitution of Péter Palotás in favor of Nándor Hidegkuti settled the question of who would, moving forward, headline Hungary's deep-lying prototype invention in the no. 9 position to ply that trade as the world's best practitioner. Hidegkuti's input had a desired effect and positively and powerfully enhanced the team's kinetics that was there for everyone to see immediately. Manager Gusztáv Sebes would later observe in his autobiography: "The transformation was amazing. He seemed to complement the partnership between Puskas and Kocsis perfectly, and beautiful passes began to flow amongst the three of them." Within minutes two goals by Puskás restored parity before halftime, and Hidegkuti aided the rally to a grandstand finish by an additive goal as the team won 4-2.

Nándor Hidegkuti filled a special role in a withdrawn centre-forward position offset behind the two-man beam of Puskás and Kocsis better known in football parlance as being "in the hole". The tactical nuance of moving Hidegkuti off the main line put the game on a path to further development; and later this fluid free-lancing station in modern-day football would be known as "playmaker". Opposing lines were un-steadied by this dual-purpose player and drew a natural tactical response and tendency from defenses to leave him unmarked to operate freely in space unbuffetted by not being in the midst of the forwards. Unbound in his uncast role, with event-driven spontaneity and panache Hidegkuti provided crashing sorties to the point of attack as ball movement dictated to crumble the centre goal area; and unlocked in Hungary's no. 9 position a new revolutionary menacing robust character in football operating on the event horizon between midfield and the rearguards and between creator and goalscorer. Often called the "father of total football" Hidegkuti opened a third valve when Puskás and Kocsis were accounted for, and more often than not exerted enough well-honed energy to upset the best-latticed defensive works of the time.

1953 European Championship

The team took a giant stride to mark their ascent from a continental power and into the top ranks of world football's elite in a game some have called "the first European Championship final".

Italy dominated European continental football from the 1930s and put together a masterclass run from 1934 scaling the sport's summit by winning two World Cups consecutively in 1934 and 1938. Europe had not known another World Cup champion before Italy; and mainland Europe's football pioneers owed their long track of success to a diamond-hard defense that nearly could not be worsted when it was the home feature. Indeed one of Italy's key contributions to the game had been modelling a highly organized backline that was intended to prevent goals, with which they defended their impeccable dual World Cup pedigree setting the standard on the mainland for being the most difficult venue to play in.

Aside from the only and famous interruption made by England in 1948 when the inspired efforts of Tom Finney and Sir Stanley Matthews lifted England to a classic and much heralded 4-0 triumph, the Azzurri had not allowed more than two goals into their own net in 36 home stands from 1934 to sport an excellent unbeaten record. After their only defeat since 1934, the Italians furthered their indurant defense enough so that no more than one goal was put past their famed backline after 1948 in any game. Compounding the seemingly hard task of making head against the two-time world champions, Hungary entered Italy to play for the 1953 Gerõ Cup European championship staged to the national jubilee and inaugural of the 1960 Summer Olympics's showpiece stadium that appeared every inch to be a daunting intimidating fortress of grandeur. Puskás' fame had spread so far in Europe by at the time of the border crossing into Italy for the celebrated match, Italian railworkers on learning who was lodged in the carriages insisted on showing the Hungarian captain their new train engine and within minutes the affable and always extroverted Puskás was driving it down the track to their delight.

The city of Rome spared no expense for Stadio Olimpico's construction seven years ahead of schedule to be the Italian people's most enduring and marquee of all modern sporting landmarks. After the regal opening ceremonies, 90,000 spectators were treated to a diametric encounter that put into relief two of the world's best honed, practiced and contrasting styles among its two most decorated heavyweights: a mighty Italian squad that possessed the world's toughest defense versus Hungary's fluid and rhythmic carriage of play that belied artfully crafted tactical guile that was gaining in opinions as having the game's best attacking side.

The Italians came out with their rugged trade as expected and the outcome trembled between a good mix of avid defending on both sides. By the first half's close the élan of the Hungarian front-four accosting the Azzurri defense started to turn the defense and untie it stylistically by a short trading of balls that towed out the main Italian line exposing their rear to rewardingly cast long arches that were vacuumed up by a dodgy Puskás and a half fit Hidegkuti who had turned his ankle in the first minute. A Hidegkuti goal in the 41st minute, and later two strong finishes by Puskás in the second half one belonging to a left-footed line drive from the top of the penalty box put the game to 3-0, and Hungary had won the precursor to the European Championship in 1953. So irrepressible was Puskás not only to win that while leading 2-0 late in the game, he was screaming at his keeper to give him the ball at every opportunity and urged for continued attacks that even delighted hardened Italian fans with a chorus of applause at the end. Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport summed up the shanghaiing of the inaugural match the day after with praise mixed with a native angst: "How is it possible to play against a team that is lining up with seven fuoriclasse (unequals)?"

On July 5 1953, Hungary assumed football's premier rank with a 4-2 victory over Sweden in Stockholm taking over sole command from Argentina for top honors, a number one world ranking it would not yield until June 12 1956 for a span of forty-two games. After beating a wake through five undefeated matches, a historic collision was arranged for November that had seismic implications for the sport, long held insular national myths and lasting defining moments. It was billed a clash of titans between "The Magnificent Magyars" and the lofty creators of the game to finally decide the perspective and relative distance between old masters and unstoppable nouveau riche arrivals who played a bewitching and unsinkable brand of football.

The game would dramatically shake the football world to its foundations, and precipitate a new core shift in football ideas and on-field planning and displace, for half a generation at least, the center of football power. It is widely thought to be the most famous and influential game ever played.

"The Match of the Century"

Since the creation of football in 1863, storied England had never suffered defeat on its home shores from foreign opposition outside the British Isles. The inventors of the game had staged and successfully defended the sport's soaring penultimate tradition -- being unconquerable in turning back every foreign effort for ninety years to defeat them at home, decisively the most treasured mileage in sport. The long reign of this invincibility knit to semi-mythology was beyond legendary as it was embedded deep into socio-national consciousness as a post to which all Englishmen could look to with surety and confidence in spite of all forecasts and the ever-changing times.

Weeks before during the build up of the highly anticipated matchup, the British press had galvanized worldwide radio and newsprint audiences calling it "Match of the Century" and a ' the world championship decider ' to England's sternest challenge to turn back a gathering all-conquering juggernaut from across the Channel and the East that was unbroken for three and a half years. Hungary entered the game ranked the highest in the world against a premium no. 3 English team, but the rankings could well have been inverted in public opinion as Hungary were seen as unfit to do any better than other sides in football's first hallowed cathedral - Wembley Stadium. In deference to unassailable tradition and their awing record, England was installed as heavy favorite as again unbeatable against by any side at home.

England fielded a squad of considerable and legendary power within a time-tested and patently English tactical package (3-2-2-3 i.e. the WM formation) catalyzed in 1925 at the Arsenal Football Club and included all the stalwarts of the League First Division and a bevy of world-class players: FA's football's legendary ageless wonder and all time great - Stanley Matthews, very capable captain Billy Wright, much feared agile center-forward Stan Mortensen and savvy and superb defender in Alf Ramsey. This highly successful system mated to a hardy, open, spontaneous and industrial style of play saw England take on all-comers outside the Isles for nearly a century after the game's inception and never have the world's best left Wembley Stadium victorious. At England's order was a very powerful midfield - a square of four players - who did the bulk of the work fetching and carrying up and down the field whom the Hungarian's referred to as ' the piano-carriers ' led by the incomparable Billy Wright.

On a foggy Wednesday on November 25 1953, in front of 105,000 in Wembley Stadium and to millions worldwide listeners and television audiences the "The Mighty Magyars" mesmerized and annexed the whole English defense. Their attack proved insolvable with a new ground game that made lanes into England's stout stereotypical WM formation and exploited a flaw in their rigid marking system that opened yawning gaps by cleverly drawing defenders out of position. Hidegkuti could not be subdued, and fifty seconds into the match ran down a center seam, feigned a kick momentarily freezing a defender, angled inside diagonally to load in a long-distance rising 20-yard vector into the upper right corner of the net just beyond the lunging mitt of goalkeeper Gil Merrick. Throughout the game Hidegkuti was un-markable in a starring role as he haunted the English line mixed with befuddling actions by Puskás and the Hungarian line that posed tactical riddles by shifty interchanging of positions almost clairvoyantly on queue; Hidegkuti was immortalized for famously scoring a hat-trick and Puskás added two more.

Hungary's 3rd score after a seven-pass navigation that Puskás fondly describes as his most signature play was particularly sublime and remembered and made him the international game's world record holder for goals produced. It involved him taking up a position on the right-hand side of the six-yard box and receiving a short flat inbound but less than perfect pass from farther right as Billy Wright barrels down to disposses the escaping ball that drifts toward the dead-ball line. Often shown on classic highlight reels, Puskás reflexively drags back the loose ball with the sole of his boot in the very last instant before his tackler arrives that leaves the English captain de-cleated and flat on his back before pivoting and finding a ray of daylight between the near post and Gil Merrick's left arm from an acute angle from close range. Having gone up 4-1 before halftime, Hungary crushed the paleo-tactics used since 1925 6-3 by day's end, and many old preconceptions on how football was to be played were cast aside on that memorable day. The game's enduring legacy would not just be record-breaking but one that would help usher football from rigid positional set-piece concepts of playmaking that had defined the sport up to that time and into in a flexibility-based new age.

Attending the game was Englishman and oft-slighted and ignored coach genius, under-appreciated Jimmy Hogan who came with the youth team of Aston Villa to watch his colleague in football philosophy and friend Gusztáv Sebes play his game to the ideal. He was thought to be an outsider in English circles whose beliefs formed a minority view along with other like-minded avante-garde coaches like Gusztáv Sebes and Hugo Meisl of Austria for being a proponent of free flowing soccer where possession and therefore skillful passing were keys to the game together with flexibility. Hogan had been a pioneering journeyman coach before the First World War who imparted some of the first footballing knowledge to the Continent and successfully coached Hungary's MTK into a club leader in the 1920s. The team was not remiss to dedicate the win to his behalf. At game's end he commented that a new order in football had been realized dictated by the visiting team - "That was the football I've always dreamed of."

In a private reception room at the Cumberland Hotel the following morning, Stanley Rous produced a large suitcase of pound sterling and thanked manager Gusztáv Sebes for a wonderful match and, as is the custom, asked how much of the gate proceeds he would like to help his football federation to at home. In the cash-strapped world of life behind the Iron Curtain starved for hard currency, most managers would have availed of most if not all of allotted takings, but Sebes waved the money off with comport and Stanley Rous insisted. Sebes refused to accept a penny and Rous couldn't let the Hungarians leave without some payment, and so a return game was proposed in preparation for the two teams' entry into the 1954 World Cup. This game has been the subject of acres of newsprint, informative scholarship and introspective analysis and has now taken on a near mythical role in football lore. For surefire English football the unthinkable had happened, the birthplace of football's best-castled ninety year old legacy of unrepeatable wonderful dominance from the Victorian era had come to an end. Many in the British press decried the loss as a national tragedy and as "the twilight of the football Gods" and a football equivalent of "Agincourt in reverse", in the sporting world it created a wild sensation, mainly in continental Europe that England had finally been beaten at home.

World Fame

Following their historic triumph that sent shockwaves and rave reviews across football's landscape, the now famous team travelled abroad in February 1954 to win 3-0 in Cairo, Egypt and then to extend soccer's oldest soccer rivalry in Mitteleuropa since 1901 to Austria's Praterstadion in Vienna, the venue that put an earlier break to their ambitions in May 1950. Prior to their last defeat by the Austrians, Hungary impressively had a run of 7 wins and 1 draw, averaging 4.5 goals per game - their last three being 5-0 wins over Sweden, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia. In a defensively deadened duel, the team left going away 1-0 with a hard worked win to preserve their clean slate in 27 games. This was the third occasion that Hungary had outmanoeuvred the very strong Austrians who in three months would critically earn the highest place in their history, a third-place finish at the 1954 World Cup.

Their next home stand is regarded to be their finest performance of blended tactical joie de vivre and power football led by world's best frontline. Taking place would be an emphatic crowning of European football kings in the presence of a large international press corps and a transfixed home nation in Hungary's stately new stadium still partly under construction. This was to be the high profile return game with England and both side's last match before the opening of the 1954 World Cup in three weeks' time. English coach Walter Winterbottom debuted a reconditioned team in hopes to not flag against the onsetting Hungarian five-man line by putting in seven new starters to rein in their seemingly unapproachable high-flying contras on the pitch, keeping only Gil Merrick, Jackie Sewell, and Billy Wright from the original Wembley team.

To an electrified 95,000 person audience at Budapest's Népstadion, Hungary's pressurized offense snafued England's defensive scheme into inchoate jumble with a tactical rigor and rolling fire that threw a searchlight on for home side's supposed possibilities in the 1954 World Cup. Eight minutes into the game, attacking left back Mihály Lantos's 22-yard grounder off a free kick began a dazzling eruption that saw three long racetrack-like breakaways exporting goals past keeper Gil Merrick and three sharply driven goals from mid-range to put in place a headlong rout. This remembered 7-1 match is still England's worst defeat by margin, and the team's meteoric ascent went from relative to absolute. The game served as a prelude for Hungary's preparation for the 1954 World Cup and all Europe saw it heading for an epic rendezvous with the supreme soccer sorcerers from South America, Brazil or world champion Uruguay for the title and immortality.

The 1954 World Cup

The 1954 World Cup held in Switzerland was one of the most eventful tournaments on the 50th anniversary of FIFA's founding, and in retrospect, groundbreaking for being the first tournament that televised the live events far and wide into homes. It also marked the first permanent fixture of having all players identified with jersey numerals. The climatic and exciting contests in 26 featured matches thrilled audience-goers and delighted tournament organizers as an incredible 140 goals were scored averaging 5.38 goals per game that still sets the record pace for average in World Cup finals competition. Of the 32 entrants, 16 finalists were grouped in fours and only two would see the next stanza in the quarterfinals. Hungary shared Group B with Turkey, West Germany, and South Korea.

Hungary opened their campaign in full strength against South Korea on June 17th in Zürich, while in Berne the same day, West Germany roundly defeated Turkey 4-1. The inexperienced South Koreans were playing in their debut World Cup on less than a day's rest after enduring a six-day journey by air, sea, rail and road to make it to Switzerland as there were no commercial flights out of Korea in 1954. The Koreans showed fatigue and half their team went down with cramps after twenty minutes finding the speed and manoeuvers of Hungary simply too great to contain. Without much surprise South Korea fell to a complete vocabulary of descriptive goals, three by Kocsis's and two apiece from Puskás and Palotás as Hungary thundered into the 1954 World Cup with a 9-0 rout .

Three days later, Hungary went into action against an unseeded and by general consensus unremarkable West Germany team not touted to make much headway in the tournament. West German manager Sepp Herberger shrewdly went with a tactically understrength squad to rest his regulars and all but conceded the match to take a longer circuitous route deeper into the playoffs. Herberger's option, as recalled by his assistant and later successor Helmut Schoen, hinged on the idea that Germany could still qualify for the quarter-finals despite a loss to Hungary; and as a sidebar means to have insight into the strength and formation of the Hungarians while keeping his uncovered with a less than full lineup should the opportunity arise for a second meeting. With crisp fine fettled precision, dribbling and interplay that would later define Brazilian football's joyous magic for decades, Hungary glode past bulwarks and precipitated themselves against the opposing line. The German goal was enveloped from the start by a customary siege-like style of the Hungarians put in place another rout, scoring 8 goals with 3 in reply. The 1954 World Cup's most valuable player Sándor Kocsis individually accounted for an amazing four goals, a rare feat which would not be surpassed until Oleg Salenko scored five forty years later. This match is still surrounded by controversy and would be seen by observers for the objectionable and notoriously aggressive roughness imposed on Ferenc Puskas that Hungary would allege undermined the tournament's officiating that missed three critical in-game fouls, the latter being the most damaging. At the height of Hungary's game leading 6-1, German defender Werner Liebrich deputed to mark Puskas issued his third and most debilitating tackle in the game that scythe down Puskas by a vicious ankle tackle from behind that put Hungary's main guarantor of fortune provisionally out of the competition with a badly bruised ankle and its well machined offensive cogs into question.

In Germany public views on Sepp Herberger's decision to probe and not play Hungary at full strength caused a backlash with many demanding his resignation for not offering a truer challenge for the world's premier team. Regardless, Herberger's calculation paid off as Germany saw off Turkey 7-3 three days later in a requisite playoff to ensure passage into the final group of eight.

Hungary's next game, with Ferenc Puskas subtracted from the equation, against a football superpower from South America on the precipice of greatness would be forever remembered for its onfield exploits and brutality and infamous postgame melee called the "Battle of Berne".

The Battle of Berne 1954

In 1954, Brazil's road of ascension to becoming the undisputed elite footballing power of the world was blockaded by Hungary's famed eleven and arguably by world-defending champion Uruguay, who had taken the title in 1950. Brazil would proceed in fours years to enrapture the sport with the arrival of a phenom named Pelé aged seventeen and its reworked emphasis, albeit by different personalities and talent, on a derived offense-rich 4-2-4 formation roughly codified in 1947 by the Hungarians.

With Puskas indefinitely out of the tournament and spectating from the stands, expectant Brazil lined up with full ardor having carried all before them but never having experienced the weight and prowess of Hungary's polyvalent offense.

In a classically organized dialogue of offense and midfield play, Nándor Hidegkuti received the ball from the left of the penalty box; the top from which he loosed a sharp grounder that richocetted off a tight knot of two players in the middle that spun back shortly to defender Pinheiro who wheeled around to clear the but was intercepted by Hidegkuti who unloaded another short distance crack at goalkeeper Castilho, who stumbling blocked the ball seeing it dribble ungathered to his right, and was nearly prostrate and hurriedly scrambling as he saw a swiftly closing Czibor from the left edge plow wildly into the free ungrabbed ball just yards from the goaline. Goalkeeper Castilho's upper body absorbed the brunt of the ball strike while Czibor flew overhead. The unclaimed ball popped out again to the middle. Pandemonium reigned and tension was at a fever pitch as Brazilian defenders funnelled into the goalmouth area with posthaste speed. Spotting the ball five and a half meters in front of the goal with Brazil rushing to seal off the entrance Hidegkuti wound up for a tremendous third kick squarely in full view of the scorezone. In the process of kicking, the issuer's shorts were ripped to tatters by an oncoming Brazilian defender. The ball sailed upwards just beneath a leaping fellow teamate's legs as the game's first score in the 4th minute was thread between a wall of defenders barely inside the post that set a discharge of emotion through the Wankdorf stadium crowd.

The game's ninth minute saw midfielder József Bozsik steady the ball and survey the field downrange from just outside the center circle. Deftly with patient timing he lofted a 35-yard aerial that homed into a moving mixture of three players, two of whom closely bracketted Sándor Kocsis midway into the penalty box on the left side. The gorgeous arch of Bozsik's ball was true and Kocsis outleap both of his markers and with his head diagonally netted a one out of a hundred goal from 10-yards out, and Brazil was flummoxed 0-2. The second half of the game would go down in football history as arguably one of the worst displays unsportsmanlike discomposure on and off the pitch.

** yet to be completely written **

The Golden Team 1950 - 1956

So spectacularly well put together was this team's orbital offense, six players from the Golden Team were elected by World Soccer's Selection of the 100 Greatest Footballers to join the pantheon of 20th century sports' greatest footballers. The Hungarians lettered more than any one national team:

  1. József Bozsik
  2. Zoltán Czibor
  3. Gyula Grosics
  4. Nándor Hidegkuti
  5. Sándor Kocsis
  6. Ferenc Puskás
    • incomplete chart

External links

written exclusively by G. Pazmandy

footnote

  1. Argentina managed to tie Hungary's official 31 game pure unbeaten run (inclusive of team wins and losses due to extra-time penalty shootouts) in Aug. of 1993. Hungary's unofficial unbeaten streak is 33 games when including in internationals not sanctioned by FIFA. streaks in World Football.
  2. The nine-goal margin of defeat has only been equalled on two other occasions in World Cup play when Yugoslavia put nine past Zaire 9-0 in the 1974 World Cup and Hungary beat El Salvador 10-1 in the 1982 edition.
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