Host country: France
Champions: Italy (second title)
The 1938 World Cup was hosted by France, with just 15 teams, and it was the last tournament before the Second World War. The fact that it was held in Europe just four years after Italy 1934 caused anger in South America, with neither Argentina or Uruguay taking part.
One of the standout matches was undoubtedly between Brazil and Poland in the last-16, with the South Americans advancing 6-5 after extra-time in Strasbourg. Seleção eventually saw off Czechoslovakia to reach the semi-finals where they were eliminated by Italy.
The Italians were victorious against Norway and France before facing Brazil, and the Azzurri played Hungary in the final, which was hosted at the Stade Olympique de Colombes in Paris. Taking place on 19th June, Italy went behind to a Pál Titkos strike before eventually coming back to claim their second trophy with an impressive 4-2 win.
Host country: Brazil
Champions: Uruguay (second title)
World War Two meant that there was a 12-year gap between the third and fourth tournaments, with the 1950 edition taking place in Brazil for the first time. There were just 13 teams competing – a world away from the current day 32, which will be boosted to 48 from 2026 – from three confederations. The winners from each of the four groups went through to the final round, which was decided with every side playing one another.
Brazil, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay were the teams to advance to the final stage, with some big names, including England and Italy, being eliminated early. The final group standings were extremely close, with Uruguay finishing first with five points, one ahead of Brazil courtesy of a final day 2-1 win at the Maracanã in front of a near 200,000 audience.