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Italy stage and win the second FIFA World Cup
Vittorio Pozzo’s Azzurri see off Austria’s Wunderteam, Czechoslovakia
Losing 1930 Finalist Luis Monti, now playing with Italy, gets redemption
Hosts Italy became the first European winners of the FIFA World Cup™ when the second chapter of the fledgling competition unfolded in 1934.
It was a tournament on a bigger scale than four years before, with eight host cities compared with one and live radio broadcasts taking the action to listeners in 12 of the competing countries. Yet as in Uruguay, it was the home side who took the spoils, goals from Raimondo Orsi and Angelo Schiavio helping Vittorio Pozzo's Italy secure a 2-1 comeback triumph against Czechoslovakia in the Final in Rome.
After the success of the first FIFA World Cup, there was now a 32-team preliminary round to decide the 16 finalists. In the only instance of its kind, Italy had to qualify for their own tournament by defeating Greece. Mexico provided another one-off by travelling to the finals but not playing a single game. Although they had initially beaten Cuba to earn a place, a late application by the United States left the unlucky Mexicans facing another qualifier on arrival in Rome and they lost out 4-2.
Holders absent Uruguay were the most notable omission from the lineup of contenders, having declined to participate in retaliation for Italy's refusal to travel in 1930 – thereby creating another footnote in the history books as the only holders not to defend their prize. The South American teams that did make the long journey were soon bound for home as Argentina and Brazil, both fielding under-strength sides, suffered first-round losses to Sweden and Spain respectively.