World Cup: An Action-Packed Look at Soccer's Biggest Competition

World Cup: An Action-Packed Look at Soccer's Biggest Competition

by Matt Christopher


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Dive into the thrilling history of soccer's most famous tournament in this comprehensive guide to the World Cup!

Soccer. No other sport in the world captivates a bigger audience—and no other competition electrifies its fans like the World Cup. Jam-packed with information about each and every World Cup ever played, this revised and updated edition of a Matt Christopher classic captures all the amazing highlights of soccer's most famous tournament.

Want to know who was behind the biggest surprise defeat of the 1950 World Cup? It's in here. Want to know which country has won the Women's World Cup more than any other? Just turn the page. Want to know more about the biggest triumphs and harshest defeats, all while feeling like you're on the field with the sports legends? Wondering what the term Total Football means? You'll find the answers here—along with much, much more.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316484879
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 04/03/2018
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 1,147,012
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.20(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Matt Christopher is the best selling name behind more than 100 sports-themed books for young readers.

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World Cup

By Christopher, Matt

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2010 Christopher, Matt
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780316044844



The Host Is the Most

On July 15, 1930, Argentina and France met to play the second game of the first World Cup—a match that would go down in soccer history, not because of its exciting action or high score, but because it produced one of the oddest endings to any match ever played.

The teams were equals in every way, leading to a scoreless first half. It wasn’t until the eighty-one-minute mark, in fact, that Argentina’s Luisito Monti booted the ball into the net. Argentina 1, France 0.

France redoubled its efforts and, as the clock wound down to the final minutes, got within striking range of Argentina’s goal. They had just launched their attack when suddenly the referee blew his whistle to signal that the game was over. Time, it seemed, had run out for the French.

Or had it? It turned out that the referee had misread the clock. There were actually six minutes left to play!

Players were called back to the field—some of them out of the locker-room showers—and the game resumed half an hour later. Much to France’s disappointment, however, the final result was the same. Argentina defeated them, 1–0.

France’s loss came on the second day of the 1930 World Cup. That same week, nine of the thirteen participating teams were forced out of the competition, leaving Yugoslavia, Uruguay, and the United States to join Argentina in the semifinal round.

That two South American teams, Uruguay and Argentina, had made it so far in the competition was no surprise. After all, Uruguay was the reigning Olympic champion and boasted top scorer Pedro Cea. Argentina had offensive might, too, including Luisito Monti and Guillermo Stábile, who was nicknamed El Infiltrador, or “the Infiltrator,” for his ability to worm his way past the defense.

The United States, still a newcomer to soccer, had reached the semifinals by literally muscling its way past the competition. Its players were big, but not as skilled as those on other teams. Argentina ran roughshod over them, outscoring the bewildered Americans six goals to one.

Yugoslavia was a surprise team and something of a mystery to the other nations. No one had seen enough of its style of play to know how it might fare against Uruguay. But how it fared was badly: the host country trounced the Yugoslavs, 6–1.

That victory set the stage for one of the most anticipated and highly charged finals the soccer world had ever known.

Uruguay and Argentina had been rivals on and off the pitch for years. All of South America was watching to see which country would come out on top. Nothing less than national pride was on the line.

In fact, when the Uruguayans found out that Argentina’s star player, veteran Pancho Varallo, had a broken foot, they rejoiced in the streets. In response, the Argentine coach ordered Varallo to play despite his injury. To do otherwise, the coach intimated, would make Argentina appear weak.

Eighty thousand fans packed into Centenario Stadium, a brand-new arena built especially for the finals (and completed just days before the match!). Emotions in the stands were running hot—so hot, in fact, that police were ordered to search spectators for weapons in order to prevent violence.

The first World Cup finals began at three thirty on July 30. Within the first minutes, Argentina lost one of its key players when Varallo fell to the ground, writhing in pain from his foot injury.

The loss of Varallo gave Uruguay an instant boost. Twelve minutes into the first half, they attacked the goal. Pablo Dorado got his foot on the ball and kicked. One second later, Uruguay was on the board—and Dorado was in the record books for scoring the first-ever World Cup finals goal.

But Argentina didn’t let up. Eight minutes later, Carlos Peucelle answered with a goal for his side. El Infiltrador added a second one for Argentina and caused the first disagreement of the game in doing so. Uruguay claimed that Argentina had been offside—that is, there hadn’t been two defenders between the offensive player and the goalie when the shooter received the pass. Therefore, they argued, the goal didn’t count.

But the referee stood by his call. The goal stayed on the board.

Argentina went into the second half with a one-point lead over the world champion. They didn’t keep that lead for long, however. At the fifty-seven-minute mark, Pedro Cea of Uruguay booted the ball into the net to tie the game. Eleven minutes after that, teammate Santos Iriarte did the same. Now Uruguay had the lead, 3–2!

That was too much for Pancho Varallo to bear. He signaled to his coach that he wanted to go back into the game, pain or no. When he limped onto the field, he did more than change the lineup: he brought new life back to the flagging Argentines, inspiring them to play harder. He himself played as hard as he could despite his injury and, late in the game, very nearly tied the score.

In fact, according to Vallaro, he had tied the score. Uruguay’s goalkeeper, he argued, had knocked one of his shots back after it had crossed the goal line. But once again, the referee had the final word on the play. He said the ball had been deflected before it crossed the line and, therefore, was not a goal.

Uruguay sealed the win with another goal a minute before the game ended, making the final score Uruguay 4, Argentina 2. The Olympic champs were victorious again!

Raucous celebrations erupted throughout the stadium, in the streets, and throughout the host country. Jules Rimet presented the Victory Cup (renamed the Jules Rimet Cup in 1946) to the Uruguayan Football Association’s president, beginning a tradition that remains unbroken today.

By all accounts, the first World Cup had been a huge triumph for the sport of soccer. The only question now was, how could FIFA build on this success and make the second competition even better?


Excerpted from World Cup by Christopher, Matt Copyright © 2010 by Christopher, Matt. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


A Game for the Ages 1

Chapter 1 1930

The Host Is the Most 7

Chapter 2 1934

Welcome to Italy 13

Chapter 3 1938

"Win or Die" 18

Chapter 4 1950

The Miracle and the Defeat 26

Chapter 5 1954

The Mighty Fall 35

Chapter 6 1958

What's in a Name? 40

Chapter 7 1962

Twice Is Nice 47

Chapter 8 1966

No Three-peat 52

Chapter 9 1970

The Return of the King 58

Chapter 10 1974

Total Football 64

Chapter 11 1978

Working the System? 71

Chapter 12 1982

Bigger than Ever 77

Chapter 13 1986

"The Hand of God" 82

Chapter 14 1990

An Empty Cup 90

Chapter 15 1991

Unsung Heroes 94

Chapter 16 1994

A Shoot-Out-and a Shooting 100

Chapter 17 1995

From Runner-Up to Champion 107

Chapter 18 1998

Host Heroes 112

Chapter 19 1999

The Kick Seen Round the Wold 116

Chapter 20 2002

Five-Time Champs 124

Chapter 21 2003

Back in the USA 132

Chapter 22 2006

The Header That Shocked the World 140

Chapter 23 2007

Two-Time Champs 145

Chapter 24 2010

Playing Dirty 151

Chapter 25 2011

Rising from the Ruins 156

Chapter 26 2014

"A Miracle Boy" 164

Chapter 27 2015

Midfield Miracle Kick 170

Chapter 28 2018, 2019, and Beyond 178

FIFA World Cup Results 180

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