1962-1970: World Cup Finals and FC Barcelona (II)

1962-1970: World Cup Finals and FC Barcelona (II)

Second in our series taking a look at World Cup history from a Barça perspective. Seven players in 1962 and four in 1966.

Part two of our series examining the role FC Barcelona has played in the history of the World Cup looks back at the sixties.  Barça was well represented in 1962 and 1966 but drew a blank in 1970 when the Spanish national team failed to qualify for the finals in Mexico

CHILE 1962

-The first World Cup finals of the sixties saw Spain manager Pablo Hernández Coronado call up seven players from the Barça squad – goalkeeper Sadurní, defenders  Rodri and Gràcia, midfielders Segarra, Garay and Vergés and Paraguayan born forward Eulogio Martínez.

-Strangely, Hernández Coronado undermined his own authority in the team by appointing Helenio Herrera as coach.  The argentine had previously manager FC Barcelona from 1958-60 and at that moment was enjoying great success with Inter.

-Twenty-one year old goalkeeper Salvador Sadurní  was a surprise addition to the squad after making just 14 competitive Club appearances in the 1961/62 season, the first following the retirement of the legendary Ramallets – the other Barça keeper, Pesudo, had made 27.  In the end, Sadurní took no part in the tournament.

-Spain was drawn in the same group as Czechoslovakia, Mexico and Pelé’s all-powerful Brazil.  Spain did badly, losing to Czechoslovakia and scraping a draw against Mexico.  As such they needed a win against Brazil to stay in the competition, and with Pelé out injured Spain glimpsed a chance of making it through to the knockout stage.   Rodri, Gràcia and Vergés featured for Spain in a valiant effort, but Brazil ran out 2-1 winners with more than a little help from the referee.


-Spain was drawn against the Republic of Ireland and Syria in the qualifying stage for the Finals but when Syria withdrew, it came down to a tough head-to-head with Ireland.  Spain lost 1-0 in Dublin (with Ferran Olivella featuring for Spain) but it was a different story in Sevilla’s Sánchez Pizjuán, where a hat tick from Barça striker Jesús María Pereda (who was joined in the team by Olivella) opened the way to a 4-1 win.  Both players also took part in the tie-breaker played in Paris, where Spain secured a place in the Finals with a 1-0 win.

-Spain manager José Villalonga included five players from FC Barcelona in his World Cup squad: goalkeeper Reina, defenders Eladio, Gallego and Olivella and forward Fusté. There was no room in the squad for Pereda, the hero of Seville.

-The first warm-up match was played on 12  June 1966 at the Riazor stadium against Ajax, where a certain 19 year-old called Johan Cruyff was beginning to make a name for himself.  He made his impact on the game by taking advantage of a mistake between goalkeeper Iríbar and Olivella to score.  Ajax beat Spain 1-2.

-Things didn’t improve once the squad got to England, and the real thing.  They lost to Argentina (1-2), beat Switzerland (2-1) and lost again to East Germany (1-2), and so failed to make it past the group stage.  Gallego played in all three matches while Eladio and Fusté made just the one appearance each, against Argentina and East Germany respectively.  Reina and Olivella took no part.


-Despite being drawn in a relatively easy qualifying group which included Yugoslavia, Belgium and Finland, Spain failed to make it through to the finals.

-The last match of the qualifying phase between Spain and Finland was played on 15 October 1969 in La Línea de la Concepción.  With both countries already out, there was very little for either side to play for.  Spain won easily 6-0 but it will be better remembered as the first match in charge of Ladislau Kubala, who would remain Spain manager until 1980.

-Spain’s failure to qualify in 1970 robbed Torres, Gallego, Eladio, Rexach, Reina, Zaldúa and Zabalza of their chance of World Cup glory.

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