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Last Updated: Monday, 15 May 2006, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
World Cup history - France 1938
Italy celebrate victory in France
Italy celebrate victory in France
The threat of war hung over the 1938 World Cup and Italy took advantage of the absence of several South American nations to win for a second time.

For the first time holders Italy and hosts France qualified automatically in a tournament aimed at building harmony.

The Italians were lucky to survive the opening round, before seeing off the hosts and an impressive Brazil outfit.

They dominated the final versus Hungary and their 4-2 victory made them the first back-to-back World Cup winners.

For the second successive tournament Uruguay declined to attend and Argentina followed suit in anger at Europe being chosen as host.

Among the competitors in France were Cuba and the Dutch East Indies, making their only appearances to date, while Brazil were the only South American country to compete.

The Brazilians impressed from the start. Despite giving six players their debuts, they beat Poland in a 6-5 thriller after extra-time with Leonidas and Willimowski scoring four goals each.

Mass brawl

Brazil then knocked out Czechoslovakia 2-1 in a quarter-final replay.

The first match had ended in an all-out brawl, with three players sent off and two taken to hospital.

The Italians were lucky to survive the opening round, beating Norway 2-1 only after extra time in a repeat of the Olympic semi-final two years before.

For the first time the hosts were not going to end up World Cup winners after Italy saw off France following a fortuitous 2-1 first-round victory over Norway.

Elsewhere, Hungary swept past the Dutch East Indies in the opening round and the Swedes routed Cuba 8-0 in the second.

The Cubans, who were only at the finals because Mexico had pulled out, emerged with some credit having earlier drawn 3-3 with a strong Romanian team and won the replay 2-1.

France beat Belgium before going out to Italy, who proceeded into a semi-final against Brazil.

The South Americans were fancied to win, but their coach Adheniar Pimenta blundered tactically.

He rested Leonidas, the tournament's top scorer, and Italy duly won 2-1 before going on to meet Hungary, who had cruised past Sweden.

Two goals each from Colaussi and Piola ensured Italy deservedly won the final.

Dr Ottorino Barassi, the Italian Fifa vice-president, then kept the trophy safe in a shoe-box under his bed throughout the Second World War.


Preliminary round:
Switzerland 1-1 Germany (aet)
Replay: Switzerland 4-2 Germany
Czechoslovakia 3-0 Holland (aet)
Italy 2-1 Norway (aet)
France 3-1 Belgium
Hungary 6-0 Dutch East Indies
Brazil 6-5 Poland (aet)
Cuba 3-3 Romania (aet)
Replay: Cuba 2-1 Romania

Sweden 8-0 Cuba
Brazil 1-1 Czechoslovakia (aet)
Replay: Brazil 2-1 Czechoslovakia
Hungary 2-0 Switzerland
Italy 3-1 France

Italy 2-1 Brazil
Hungary 5-1 Sweden

3rd/4th place play-off:
Brazil 4-2 Sweden

Italy 4-2 Hungary

Leading scorer
Eight goals: Leonidas (Brazil)


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