Saturday, 29 May 2010

South America v South America

In total there have been 18 games between South American teams at the World Cup. And 11 between the 5 teams that have qualified this time around. These are the ones I'll concentrate on here. It's been a mixed bag with not a little controversy along the way.

It all began at the 1930 World Cup, in the days when the South American teams could face each other in the group stages. This was the one and only time when Argentina has faced Chile at the World Cup and La Albiceleste prevailed 3-1. But there was heartbreak to come for Argentina as they lost the first, and only, all South American final to Uruguay 4-2 in Montevideo.

There were echoes of the current grumblings over the ball that's going to be used in South Africa. The two finalists could not agree on which one to play with so in the end Argentina provided the ball for the first half and Uruguay for the second. I guess that meant they could both take their ball home at the end of the game. The victory sparked big celebrations in Uruguay and a national holiday the following day.

There was a long wait for the next all South American tie and again it involved Uruguay. It had won the first tournament on home soil but surely it couldn't beat Brazil in Rio in 1950? It did and became World Champs for the second time. 1950 is also unique for being the only World Cup without a final. Uruguay Brazil was the last match of the final Group Stage rather than a one-off game. For Brazil the unthinkable had happened. It's now referred to as the Maracanazo (the Maracana blow).

In 1962 it was Chile's turn to take on the Kings of Samba in a tournament it hosted. La Roja had surprised everyone by making the semi-finals but there was to be no dream win in Santiago as Brazil's attacking verve meant it ran out 4-2 winners on its way to a second World Cup win.

1970 and the third and final meeting between Brazil and Uruguay, this time in the Semi-Finals. Of course this was perhaps the finest World Cup team in history so it was little surprise that Brazil finally managed to avenge that shock 1950 defeat. It ran out 3-1 winners in a match that has been made famous for Pele's audacious dummy around the Uruguayan goalkeeper. Always worth another look

Now we're heading into the Brazil Argentina years and this is where the controversy begins. Although not in 1974 when Brazil won 2-1 in what was a fairly drab match by all accounts. But now let's fast-forward to 1978. Again they faced each other in the second group stage, playing out a dirty 0-0 draw. Then comes the problem. Unlike recent years the final group matches didn't kick-off at the same time, meaning that Argentina knew it had to beat Peru by 4 goals to knock out Brazil on goal difference. Argentina won 6-0 and the game is forever tarred with a fairly broad bribery brush. The Peruvian goalie was even born in Argentina. But nothing was ever proved and Argentina went on to win its first World Cup.

Revenge came pretty quickly for Brazil 4 years later as its star-studded team beat Argentina 3-1, in the group of death in the Second Round. It was Maradona's first World Cup and he didn't manage to finish the game, sent off with 5 minutes to go for violent conduct. His colourful World Cup career had began...and there are a few more twists in his tale yet.

In 1986 Uruguay was back at the party, losing 1-0 to Argentina in the Round of 16. At last Argentina could avenge the 1930 final loss and it set them up for a second title, via sheer brilliance and a Hand of God.

To Italia 90 and by this stage Argentina had still never beaten Brazil at the World Cup. It put this right with a 1-0 win in the Round of 16 but the match subsequently embrolied that man Maradona in yet more controversy, this time because of 'holy' water. He claimed that water given to the Brazilian midfielder Branco by the Argentinian physio was spiked with a tranquilizer. The debate and recriminations continue today.

The final all South American encounter came in 1998 with Brazil comfortably beating Chile 4-1 in Paris on their way to another World Cup final.

So it's been 12 years since we've seen a game between two teams from South America. Let's hope for another Brazil Argentina game in South Africa...and maybe just a tiny dose of controversy.

South America v South America at the World Cup:


Argentina 3 Chile 1 Group Stage
Brazil 4 Bolivia 0 Group Stage
Uruguay 1 Peru 0 Group Stage
Uruguay 4 Argentina 2 FINAL


Uruguay 8 Bolivia 0 Group Stage
Uruguay 2 Brazil 1 Final match


Uruguay 2 Colombia 1 Group Stage
Chile 2 Brazil 4 Semi-finals


Brazil 4 Peru 2 Quarter-finals
Uruguay 1 Brazil 3 Semi-finals


Argentina 1 Brazil 2 Second Group Stage


Brazil 3 Peru 0 Second Group Stage
Argentina 0 Brazil 0 Second Group Stage
Argentina 6 Peru 0 Second Group Stage


Argentina 1 Brazil 3 Second Group Stage


Argentina 1 Uruguay 0 Round of 16


Brazil 0 Argentina 1 Round of 16


Brazil 4 Chile 1 Round of 16

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