How Have England Fared In South America?

Laurence Griffiths

Between now and June 2014 get ready to hear the following statement often "No European team has ever won a World Cup in South America"

However before 2010 no European team had ever won a World Cup outside of Europe. Well Spain put that to bed in 2010 with a victory in South Africa. So why can't a European team win the tournament in 2014? Germany and Spain are two of the favourites to win the tournament along with hosts Brazil. However this isn't a German blog (thank the good lord) and it's not a Spanish blog, so we're going to focus on England and their performances in South America to date.

The first ever World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930. However the relationship between the England Football Association and FIFA had become strained prior to this. So England didn't compete in a World Cup until 1950, 4 years after they kissed and made up with FIFA.

Luckily for us, the first World Cup that we competed in was held in Brazil, so here is where our journey starts.

1950 World Cup: Brazil. (Winners Uruguay)

Qualification: After a self-imposed exile by the home nations, we were once again invited to take part in the prestigious tournament four years after rejoining FIFA. There was a home nations Championship contested, with the top two teams qualifying for the tournament. England and Scotland comfortable beat Wales and Ireland to secure qualification, England winning the group with three victories out of three.

Tournament: After several teams withdrew for various reasons, 15 teams were left. They were divided into four groups, with one group only having three teams. England were drawn into a group with Chile, Spain and the United States of America. England were seeded for the draw and many considered them to be among the favourites to lift the trophy. England got off to the perfect start, beating Chile 2-0 thanks to goals from Wilf Mannion and Stan Mortensen. However then came the result that our friends from over the pond won't let us forget. Heavily favoured against the Americans, England were shocked! A 1-0 defeat thanks to a Joe Gaetjans goal ensured England would face Spain needing to win. Unfortunately England suffered another 1-0 defeat, knocking them out of the tournament.

Played 3: Won 1, Drawn 0, Lost 2

1962 World Cup: Chile. (Winners Brazil)

Qualification: England were drawn into a group with Portugal and Luxembourg as part of UEFA's qualification system. Playing home and away, the winners of the group would automatically qualify. 3 wins and 1 draw later, England were on the plane to Chile. Led by Bobby Charlton who had scored 5 goals in qualification. England again were heavily favoured to impress. Now that they had shaken the rust of playing in their first tournament in South America in 1950, the sky was the limit. This team was packed with talent.

Tournament: England were grouped with Argentina, Hungary and Bulgaria. Unfortunately for England, their tournament started with a whimper as they were comfortably defeated 2-1 by Hungary. However a very impressive display against Argentina ensured that England would finish group runners-up and qualify for the next round. Goals from Flowers, Charlton and Greaves gave England a 3-1 win. They followed this up with a drab 0-0 draw against Bulgaria, but a 0-0 draw between Hungary and Argentina helped England squeeze through on goal difference. Unfortunately the consequences of finishing runners-up in the group meant a knockout stage showdown with Brazil instead of Czechoslovakia. England were comfortably beaten 3-1 and once again they returned home from South America with their tails between their legs.

Played 4, Won 1, Drawn 1, Lost 2

England did not qualify for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina despite winning 5 of their 6 qualifying matches. Italy would qualify ahead of England on goal difference alone.

So England hardly have a great record in tournaments played in South America, but 11 games is also a small sample size. Couple that with the fact the last tournament we played in that was held in South America, is 40 years ago next year. England are going into the World Cup unseeded, with little expectation on them. That's quite unusual for England and it will be interesting to see if they handle it well. We'll be continuing our coverage ahead of Brazil, looking at every single possible angle imaginable!

England's Record In World Cups Held In South America

Played Won Lost Drawn
7 2 4 1
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