In this post, we will look back at Italy’s journey through each FIFA World Cup; from their maiden victory to becoming a powerhouse of world soccer over time. We will explore how their successes led them to become four-time champions and why these achievements remain among the greatest feats ever seen in international sport. Join us for an exciting journey into Italian sports history!
The first FIFA World Cup
The first FIFA World Cup was held in 1930 in Uruguay and it marked the beginning of a long and successful history for the Italian national football team at FIFA World Cup tournaments. Italy participated in that tournament with an unheralded team, but they quickly proved their worth by progressing to the semi-finals, only to be eliminated by hosts Uruguay in controversial circumstances.
The Italian team had a strong defence and a goal-scoring forward in Raimundo Orsi, who scored twice against Chile in the group stage and then again against Argentina in the semi-final. Italy’s debut performance in the 1930 World Cup is seen as the beginning of their association with greatness at the tournament. Since that tournament, the Italian team has gone on to win four World Cup titles, making them one of only eight nations to have ever won the coveted trophy.
Their first win came in 1934, when they defeated Czechoslovakia 2-1 in Rome. Italy’s second title came 20 years later when they defeated West Germany 4-3 in a dramatic final after being two goals behind at half time. The Azzurri were also runners-up in 1970, 1978 and 1994, losing to Brazil, Argentina and Brazil respectively.
They were also third-place finishers in 1982, 1990 and 2006. During that time, Italy has produced many excellent players such as Giuseppe Meazza, Dino Zoff, Alessandro Del Piero, Paolo Maldini and Andrea Pirlo – all of whom are amongst the greatest footballers of all time.
Even more recently, players like Gigi Buffon, Mauro Camoranesi and Antonio Cassano have continued Italy’s proud tradition at World Cup tournaments. There is little doubt that Italy’s record at FIFA World Cups is second to none.
Their impressive performances throughout the decades have cemented their place at the very top of world football. And their success is likely to continue for many years to come, as each new generation of Italian players takes up the mantle of competing for Italy’s fifth World Cup trophy – a feat which no other nation has achieved so far.
The second FIFA World Cup
The second FIFA World Cup, hosted in 1934 by Italy, was an even more significant event for the history of the Italian national football team. It marked the first time that Italy had qualified for the tournament, and the team, led by head coach Vittorio Pozzo, made an impressive run to the final against Czechoslovakia. Italy dominated the tournament, showing off its new tactically astute style of play.
The Italians won all four of their matches on route to the final, including a 4-2 win over one of its biggest rivals, Spain. The final match between Italy and Czechoslovakia was a thrilling affair that ended in a narrow 2-1 victory for the home side. The Italians scored first through Raimundo Orsi in the 14th minute, but Czechoslovakia equalized through Antonin Puc shortly after. In the end, it was Angelo Schiavio who scored the winner for Italy in the 71st minute.
The goal was a symbol of Italian football’s new tactical approach which was described by the legendary Giuseppe Meazza as “a relentless string of passing that created space and resulted in goal”. The victory in Rome was a momentous occasion and gave Italy its first ever major international trophy.
The team would later go on to repeat this feat by winning the 1938 World Cup in France, becoming one of just three nations to have won multiple World Cup titles (the others being Brazil and Germany). Since then, the Italian national team has gone on to qualify for most major international tournaments with varying degrees of success.
However, it will always look back fondly on its first ever World Cup victory as prompting a new era of Italian football and sporting glory.
The third FIFA World Cup
The third FIFA World Cup was held in Italy in 1934, with the Italians being one of the 16 nations competing. It was the first time Italy had ever hosted a World Cup and they were determined to win it. Thus they adopted a very aggressive tactic, playing some of the most attacking football seen up to that point.
The team was managed by Augie Pantaleoni and captained by Luis Monti, with Giuseppe Meazza, Umberto Caligaris, Carlo Carcano and Adolfo Baloncieri forming the nucleus of the squad. The tournament began with the Italians hammering the USA 7-1 in their opening game, a result that was even more impressive considering none of their opponents had ever before played an official international match.
A series of victories over Romania, France and Czechoslovakia saw Italy qualify for the semi-finals, where they beat Austria 1-0 with a late goal from Angelo Schiavio. In the final they faced Czechoslovakia on 10 June 1934 in Rome’s Stadio Nazionale PNF before a crowd of 45,000. The Czechs opened the scoring early on with an Antonio Nejedly strike but Italy equalised shortly afterwards through Schiavio.
It looked as though the game would end level until Raimundo Orsi struck in extra time to give Italy a 2-1 victory, sparking off wild celebrations throughout Italy. The team’s success provided a much needed boost to morale in Italy at a time when fascism was on the rise and its effects were starting to be felt across the country.
It served as a testament to the strength and skill of the national team when it came to competing on the world stage. Even today, nearly 85 years later, their triumph remains one of Italy’s greatest football achievements. A huge parade through Rome was organised to celebrate their victory and it is estimated well over a million people lined the streets as the heroes of that tournament drove past them.
The fourth FIFA World Cup
The fourth FIFA World Cup was held in Italy in 1934, and the Italian national football team made its debut at the tournament. The squad featured some of the biggest names in Italian football history such as Raimundo Orsi, Luis Monti, and Giuseppe Meazza.
The team was managed by Vittorio Pozzo, who went on to become one of the most successful coaches in Italian football history. Under Pozzo’s guidance, the Italian team advanced to the final by beating Austria (2–1), Czechoslovakia (3–1), Germany (3–2), and Spain (1–0). In the final, Italy faced Czechoslovakia and the match was dubbed “the Battle of Rome” due to the immense rivalry between the two teams. After a hard-fought match, Italy emerged victorious by a score of 2–1.
This victory marked the first time an Italian team won the FIFA World Cup and marked a turning point in Italian football history. The Italian team featured many talented players who went on to make a mark in Italian football history, including Meazza, Monti, Orsi, and Mario Varglieni.
The team also boasted great goalkeeper Gianpiero Combi and defender Attilio Ferraris IV. Other important contributors such as Adolfo Baloncieri and Giovanni Ferrari also made significant contributions to the team’s success. The 1934 FIFA World Cup victory put Italy firmly on the map as a major football nation and propelled them to the forefront of world football.
The success of Italy at the tournament also served as a catalyst for further success at future FIFA World Cups and cemented Italy’s place as one of the top teams in world football.
Italy at the 2014 FIFA World Cup
Italy qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil comfortably, finishing as runners-up in UEFA Group B to World Cup holders Spain. Manager Cesare Prandelli chose a 23-man squad with a solid defensive spine, including players such as Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Pirlo. He also included several exciting attacking options, with the likes of Mario Balotelli and Ciro Immobile providing an offensive threat. Italy’s FIFA World Cup campaign in Brazil began with a 2-1 win over England. Mario Balotelli scored the opening goal for Italy, before a late Daniel Sturridge strike was not enough to rescue a point for England. The Azzurri then drew 0-0 with Costa Rica in their second game, setting up an all-or-nothing showdown with Uruguay. Unfortunately, Italy succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Uruguay courtesy of a controversial Luis Suárez goal. Prandelli’s men left the tournament at the first round stage, while Suárez was delighted to have single-handedly kept his country alive in the competition. Italy’s performance was by no means disastrous, but the Azzurri ultimately paid for not converting their chances against Costa Rica and Uruguay in their opening two fixtures. Despite the disappointment of an early exit from the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Prandelli’s Italy had shown some encouraging signs of progress in Brazil. Not only had the team played with attacking intent and created numerous chances, but they had also played a possession-based style of football, creating plenty of opportunities through retaining possession in midfield. Although they ultimately failed to progress further than the group stage in Brazil, there were various aspects of Italy’s play which left fans feeling encouraged for the future of Italian football on the world stage.