45 days to go: The World Cup’s first substitute

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ is getting closer – 45 days to go!

In less than two months’ time – on 14 June, to be precise – the 21st FIFA World Cup™ kicks off at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, as the hosts take on Saudi Arabia.​

That leaves us plenty of time to enjoy a countdown. Between now and the start of the World Cup, we will take a closer look at a different statistic from the history of the tournament each day.​​​

45 minutes had passed in the Opening Match of the 1970 FIFA World Cup_™ _between Mexico and the Soviet Union when a truly historic event took place. During the half-time interval, Soviet Union head coach Gavriil Kachalin decided to make a substitution, newly introduced for that tournament, and sent on Anatoly Puzach in place of Viktor Serebryanikov for the second half.

Since then, substitutions have become a normal and even essential part of the World Cup. Every fan can remember numerous examples when a substitute came on to change the course of a match in a positive way, or when the switch completely disrupted the team’s play and a sure-fire victory turned into embarrassment.

A recent example of a perfectly executed substitution occurred at the 2014 World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina. As the minutes ticked away in normal time, Germany coach Joachim Low sent on Mario Gotze, who went on to score the only goal of the game in extra time, securing Die Mannschaft’s fourth world title.