Off to an impressive start at Euro 2020, Italy have certainly reestablished the country’s credentials as a world football power. Failing to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the first time Italy had missed out since 1958, was disastrous for the nation, but it is a cloud that appears to have come equipped with a silver lining. In Group A action at Euro 2020, Italy has posted back-to-back 3-0 victories over Turkey and Switzerland to top the group.
Under new manager Roberto Mancini, who took over six months after the World Cup failure in a playoff loss to Sweden, almost instantly the Azzurri were on the rebound. They set an Italian national team record with 11 consecutive victories. The consecutive triumphs to launch the Euro 2020 campaign have extended Italy’s unbeaten run to 27 matches.
With their glorious history, it’s difficult to imagine the Azzurri as an underdog, but that’s definitely the case at Euro 2020. When the tournament opened, the best sportsbooks in Vegas were listing Italy at odds of +800 to win the championship.
Is Italy on the verge of another magical football moment? Imagine the parties and the celebrations that will await such an accomplishment. Better yet, let’s look back to the great moments created by the Azzurri on the football pitch.
1934 World Cup
At home in Rome for the second FIFA World Cup, Italy followed Uruguay as the second host nation to win the tournament. Italy opened with a stout 7-1 thrashing of the USA in the Round of 16. Angelo Schiavo netted a hat-trick and Raimundo Orsi scored twice.
The quarterfinals proved a tougher choice. Italy and Spain drew 1-1, but the Azzurri advanced via a penalty shootout. Enrico Guaita’s 19th-minute goal was the only tally of the semifinal win over Austria.
Facing Czechoslovakia in the final, Antonin Puc put the Czechs in front in the 71st minute. Orsi’s 81st-minute goal forced extra time. In the 95th minute, Schiavo scored the World Cup winner.
1938 World Cup
Four years later in France, Italy became the first nation to win successive World Cups. Vittorio Pozzo remains the only manager to win successive World Cups.
Pietro Ferraris gave Italy a dream start in the Round of 16 against Norway when he scored after two minutes. The Norwegians tied it seven minutes from time and the match went to extra time. Silvio Piola netted the winner in the 94th minute.
Italy bounced the hosts in the quarterfinals, defeating France 3-1. Piola scored twice and Gino Colaussi tallied once. Meazza scored a 60th minute penalty to beat Brazil 2-1 in the semifinals. Colaussi scored for the third straight match.
The final against Hungary was a goalfest. Italy led 3-1 at halftime on two goals from Colaussi and one by Piola. Piola added his second of the match in the 82nd minute as the Azzurri won 4-2.
UEFA Euro 1968
Italy played host to the third edition of the tournament, which included just four teams – Italy, the Soviet Union, England and Yugoslavia. The Azzurri faced the Soviets in the semifinal. It was scoreless after extra time. Under UEFA rules, a coin toss would decide the winner.
The two captains were taken to a room inside the stadium where the coin flip was held. Italian captain Giacinto Facchetti correctly called tails and Italy advanced. A capacity crowd of 70,000 in Naples had to await Facchetti’s triumphant run back onto the pitch to discover Italy had won the toss.
The final against Yugoslavia ended 1-1. This time, UEFA rules dictated a replay. First-half goals by Luigi Riva and Pietro Anastasi gave the Azzurri a 2-0 victory.
1982 World Cup
Remembered as the summer of Paolo Rossi, it didn’t start out to be a memorable tournament for Italy. The Azzurri barely squeaked through the group stage ahead of Cameroon on goal difference.
Italy won its second stage group via a 2-1 triumph over Argentina and a 3-2 verdict over Brazil in which Rossi scored a hat-trick. He also netted both goals in a 2-0 semifinal win over Poland.
Facing West Germany in the final, Rossi scored the first goal of Italy’s 3-1 victory.
2006 World Cup
Italy won Group E and blanked Australia 1-0 in the Round of 16. Ukraine fell 3-0 to the Azzurri in the quarterfinals.
The Italians worked extra time to beat Germany 2-0 in the semifinals, Fabio Grosso and Allesandro Del Piero scoring. Tied 1-1 with France in the final through extra time, Italy earned the title via a 5-3 penalty shootout decision.