Saturday, September 05, 2009

Greatest World Cup matches: Uruguay-Argentina (1930)

The very first World Cup final took place in Montevideo’s Estadio Monumental, specially built for the World Cup. he home team of Uruguay and Argentina both made it to the final after winning 6-1 over Yugoslavia and the United States respectively, and the stage was set to one of the biggest rivalries in football: the countries that had also played for Olympic gold in 1928 (when Uruguay won), and had stood face to face in the South American championships many times during the 1920s (most recently in 1929 when Argentina was over with the title after a 2-0 victory over Uruguay).
There was therefore an enormous pressure on the players from both sides, although the Argentines were being subject to hateful harassment. The tension was so intense that some Argentine players expressed fears about what would happen if they in fact won the match!
One of Argentina's most important player was the defensive midfieler from San Lorenzo, Luis Monti. He had played an excellent tournament, and was with his hard but efficient style one of the best players in the world at the time. Up to the final, he received numerous death threats against himself and his family, and eventually played a very anonymous final, which some have attributed as a major reason for Argentina’s defeat. (There have subsequently been conspiracy theories that attribute the threats against Monti to Italian agents, since Mussolini wanted Monti to play for Italy: Immediately after the tournament Monti got a contract with Juventus, which he eventually won three championships with, and became a crucial player on the Italian national team that won the World Cup in 1934!)
The tension between the countries was not limited to their supporters. The legendary Argentine tango singer Carlos Gardel, who had sung for the Argentine national team before the Olympic final in Amsterdam, tried to bring both teams together for a cozy gathering with tango music, which unfortunately ended in a brawl between the Argentinean Raimundo Orsi and the Uruguayan Leandro Andrade…
There were 93,000 fanatical supporters for the final battle in Montevideo. Thousands had also tried to arrive from Buenos Aires, where large crowds had gathered together around radios.
The atmosphere was so intense that the Belgian referee, Jan Langenus, had felt so threatened up to the final that he had pleaded FIFA to take out a life insurance on him, and after the match he left directly from the stadium to the boat that would sail him to Europe. He was also at the center stage even before the start of the match, as both teams insisted on playing with their own balls, and in a Solomonic solution, he decided that each team would get one half with their own ball.
The Argentinian lineup was somewhat weakened before the match, as their strong striker, "Pacho" Varallo was injured, but on the order of the directors of the Argentine Football Association, he was forced to play nevertheless. After only ten minutes his knees were in such pain that he had to be taken out. Since substitutions were not allowed until 1970 Argentina had to play the rest of the match with only ten players.
In line with the expectations from the home supporters, Uruguay went ahead by Pablo Dorado after only 12 minutes. But the mood changed within half an hour when first the great technical player Carlos Peucelle equalized for Argentina, and then Guillermo Stabile put Argentina ahead on a beautiful goal from a very sharp angle.
It was Stabile’s eighth goal in the tournament, and made him the first World Cup's top scorer. Somewhat ironically, he had come to the World Cup as a substitute for Roberto Cherro who left the tournament before the first match due to nerves. Stabile went on to score hat-trick in his debut against Mexico!
In the second half the Uruguayans came out with renewed energy, while the Argentineans seemed somewhat tense, possibly because of the strong pressure and hateful atmosphere in the stadium.
Uruguay played extremely hard as well; the Argentinian goalkeeper Botasso suffered a brutal tackle that made that he could hardly stand throughout the second half (and remember that subsitutions were not allowed!). However, The Argentine captain Manuel Ferreira, later said that Uruguay always played hard, and the Uruguayan attacker Pedro Cea defended the style with "it was certainly not match battle between married and unmarried people; but it was the World Cup title!"
Uruguay finally came into the match: Pedro Cea equalized to 2-2, after which Santos Iriarte brought the celebration to Montevideo when he made it 3-2 in the 68th minute with an outstanding long shot.
Argentina tried to put pressure on Uruguay, but the home team well in defense, led by José Nasazzi and José Andrade, who threw themselves heroically to block the Argentinean shots. And as so often happens in football, the efficient Uruguayans made it 4-2 in a last minute counter-attack on a header by the one-armed Hector Castro.
Uruguay became a huge celebration as the legendary argues Jose Nasazzi received Jules Rimet trophy for the first time in history.
The following day was declared a national holiday.
The mood was somewhat different in Argentina; disappointed fans attacked the Uruguayan consulate and diplomatic relations with the neighboring country were icy.
The existing rivalry between these two countries (which are the two national teams that have met most times in football history) was only reinforced by this World Cup final.
It is perhaps tempting to say that this World Cup was not a reflection of the real footballing power then. However, this is not correct: Uruguay, a small nation of 3 million inhabitants - one of the smallest nations that have participated in the World Cup at all -, remains the only country with less than 40 million people that has won a World Cup medal at all!

Match Stats:
  • 30th July, 1930, Estadio Centenario (Montevideo)
  • Spectators: 93,000
  • Referee: John Langenus (Belgium)
Uruguay-Argentina 4-2

Goals: 1-0 Dorado (12), 1-1 Peucelle (20), 1-2 Stabile (37), 2-2 Cea (57), 3-2 Iriarte (68), 4-2 Castro (90)


Uruguay: Ballesteros, Nasazzi, Mascheroni, Andrade, Fernandez, Gestido, Dorado, Scarone, Castro, Cea, Iriarte

Argentina: Botasso, Della Torre, Paternoster, J. Evaristo, Monti, Suarez, Peucelle, Varallo, Stabile, Ferreira, M. Evaristo


Unknown said...

Uruguay is the country with the smallest population to have won a world cup medal, and the only country with less than 40 mio citizens to have won the world cup. But a lot of countries without a population of 40 mio. have cathced a World Cup medal:

Yugoslavia - 6 mio people in 1930 - shared bronze
Czechoslovakia 10 mio. in 1934, 1962 - silver
Hungary 9-10 mio. in 1938, 1954 - silver
Sweden 7-9 mio. in 1950, 1958 and 1994 - bronze, silver and bronze
Austria 7 mio. in 1954 - bronze
Chile 8 mio in 1962 - bronze
Portugal 9 mio. in 1966 - bronze
Netherlands 13- 17 mio. in 1974, 1978, 2010 - silver
Poland 34-36 mio. in 1974, 1982 - bronze
Croatia 4,5 mio. in 1998 - bronze

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