Brazil Exorcises ‘El Fantasma del 50′

Brazilians are still haunted by the 1950 World Cup final defeat to neighbours Uruguay – a game that became known as the Maracanazo – the Maracana blow. Last November, Puma, kit suppliers to ‘Los Charrúas,’ sent the Ghost of 1950 to Rio de Janeiro to remind the natives. Now Brazil has responded.

Sports paper Lance! has produced a comeback video entitled ‘Ghosts Don’t Exist.’

The 1950 final still weighs heavily in the minds of Brazilians and is set to be rekindled with the revisit of the World Cup to the country for the first time since the ‘Maracanazo.’

The hosts were overwhelming favourites going into the 1950 decider. With the latter stages of the tournament played on a group basis, the Selecáo only required a draw in the final to become World Champions on home soil. Rumour has it that victory parades and celebratory newspaper front pages had already been planned ahead of the game at a heaving Maracana.

The iconic coliseum had been constructed for the tournament, and echoing modern times, was under pressure to be completed in time.

Five of the host’s matches at the 1950 tournament were played at the Maracana, including the final in front of an official attendance of 174,000. The actual figure was said to be well over 200,000 and at the time, the Maracana was the biggest stadium in the world, surpassing Hampden Park in Glasgow.

Pic: worldcupblog.org

Pic: worldcupblog.org

Brazil took the lead through Friaca but Uruguay came storming back. Juan Schiaffino equalised before Alcides Ghiggia scored with just 11 minutes to go to stun the home crowd and clinch the trophy. The game would come to be known in Brazilian footballing folklore as the Maracanazo – the Maracana blow.

Decades later Ghiggia remarked:

“Only three people in history have managed to silence the Maracana, the Pope, Frank Sinatra and me.”

Luis Suarez and co will be hoping that history can repeat itself this summer. Neymar and his team-mates, on the other hand, are out to exorcise some ghosts.

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