Hungary’s football team gave birth to a playing style that is recognized as total football today
In football, it’s unlikely for a squad to dominate the stage constantly. These days, no unit can hold a winning streak for years. In club football, hardly a few clubs have been able to remain undefeated or defend a winning streak for long. For example, Arsenal’s season of 03/04 or a few from Real Madrid and Barcelona can be presented here. With international football, the tale is no different. However, there’s an anomaly, and that anomaly is acknowledged as “The Golden Team” to the world.
In 1950, the team of Hungary comprised 11 legendary players who collectively composed the strongest football team on the globe. The team from Hungary commanded the international football space for six great years, winning 42 games, seven draws and merely one defeat. So, how did the team win this prodigious feat?
The team from the 50s were a unit full of stars. It included players such as József Bozsik, Zoltán Czibor, Gyula Grosics, Nándor Hidegkuti, Sándor Kocsis and Ferenc Puskás. Not to forget, they had a manager who was no ordinary man and his name was Gustav Sebes. It was Sebes who urged the players to play in unique positions and also discovered a fresh formation which led to the emergence of total football.
In the 50s, managers did not have a variety of playing formations as we follow now. The formations and playing styles were inflexible, and players did not have the privilege to move around. The players were directed to maintain their position and concentrate on their role solely. For example, a defender was never ordered to attack, and an attacker was never instructed to track the ball back.
Sebes said adieu to the age-old WM formation and organized the 2-3-3-2 and 4-2-4 style. He also allowed players to shift around, strike and defend as per their will and judgement. Thus, the Hungarian party had fluidity and all the players had to the ability to do everything.
Between 1945 and 50, the team scored 105 goals in 27 matches. In 1952, Hungary won the Olympics gold medal and in 1953, they grew into the first foreign team to overpower England in their home. Shockingly, the only match they lost between 1950 and 1956 was the World Cup final against West Germany. In 1956, the squad was dissolved when the Hungarian Revolt marked its beginning.