Best World Cup Players Of The Decade Part I: the 1930s

This is the first in a series of posts entitled Best World Cup Players Of The Decade. The idea is to take each World Cup decade and critically evaluate the teams and players before honouring one player for his performances during the tournaments.

The 1930s

Three tournaments were held in the thirties, the inaugural one won by Uruguay (1930), and the other two by Italy (1934 and 1938).

In 1930 a Guillermo Stabile hat trick for Argentina against Mexico suggested he had a promising few years ahead. This treble in a 6 - 3 victory was only the beginning for Stabile, as he finished top scorer with eight goals, including one of Argentina’s two in the final. Unfortunately for him, Uruguay scored three and became the first winners of the FIFA World Cup.

Uruguay declined to take part in 1934 in retaliation for Italy’s refusal to play in 1930. This left weakened Brazilian and Argentinean teams as South American representatives. Lacking any survivors from 1930, Argentina lost to Sweden. Brazil were beaten 3 – 1 by Spain.

Italy trounced the US 7 – 1 but needed a replay to overcome Spain in the quarter finals. They eventually beat Austria’s promising team 1 – 0 and Czechoslovakia 2 – 1 to secure their first World Cup success.

In 1938, with most of the Austrian wunderteam absorbed into the German squad, the stage was set for another Italian victory. This time they beat their French hosts and the much fancied Brazilians before claiming a second successive title with a 4 – 2 win against Hungary.

Because no one player dominated the three tournaments, the choice of Best World Cup Player Of The 1930s goes to a forward who was a member of two winning squads, captain in 1938, and the scorer of 33 goals in 53 internationals from 1930 – 1939, including three during World Cup Finals: Giuseppe Meazza.

Let’s leave the final word to Meazza’s coach in 1934 and 1938, Vittorio Pozzo: “He was a born forward. He saw the game, understood the situation, distributed the ball carefully and made the team offense operate. Having him on the team was like starting the game 1 - 0 up.”

The series continues next week with Best World Cup Players Of The Decade Part 2: the 1950s.

Now for a round up of the weekend’s World Cup news.

Glastonbury is to show England’s World Cup group game against Slovenia on Wednesday 23rd June 2010. The potential first knock out game could also be shown, but you get the impression the spokesperson is bored with the idea by this point.

Come the knock out phase, England traditionally say hello to penalties. Here’s a report on the science behind taking penalty kicks. Check out the link entitled “Why England's Soccer Team Keeps Losing on Penalty Shots” for an excellent picture of researchers “testing eye movement in penalty shoot outs”. Taking more of England’s penalties under laboratory conditions in empty gyms would seem to be the answer.

Here’s “an exclusive peek” inside England World Cup base courtesy of The Times. The report says Capello is still determined to keep the WAGs at arms length. Let’s hope he isn’t foiled by this subtle name change.

Lee Kormish of The Saskatoon StarPhoenix has a plan to “make the World Cup better”. Take out the random element of the draw and group teams by world rankings instead. “Yes, this would take away the excitement and anticipation of the draw, but if FIFA wants the World Cup competition to be proper and fair, the random draw needs to go”. Wrong. Apply this formula and Brazil escape the Group of Death. Apply this formula and the Germans get a tough draw (again). Unless you’re a secret Brazil fan I’m struggling to see the point. At least there is a level playing field when the draw is randomly made.

But this is where Lee really loses me. “The fate of all participants is dependent upon the luck of the draw performed by a celebrity,” continues Lee, as if this is a problem when the celebrity in question is Charlize Theron. There hasn’t been so much sexual tension during a World Cup Finals draw since an Argentine medium conjured up the spirit of Eva Peron in Buenos Aires in 1977. How much more wrong could this man be?

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