USA 94, Roberto Baggio and that cursed penalty

1994, a special year

Il 1994 it was a year full of incredible events. The new millennium it was fast approaching, but to us unwitting eyewitnesses, it passed just like everyone else. The 1994 was the year in which the US President Bill Clinton and President area of Russia Boris Yelstin stop the pre-programmed targeting of nuclear missiles signing the agreements of the Kremlin.

Ad Oslo, From National Gallery, the famous painting is stolen “The scream”By Edvard Munch. Silvio Berlusconi wins the elections . The legend area of F1 Ayrton Senna dies in an accident ad Imola, during the GP di San Marino.

The first World Cup on American soil

Among the many events that marked the year 1994, there is one in particular that makes the memories of those who lived it resurface and rekindle: the USA World Cup 94. The United States up until then they weren’t famous for football, they didn’t even have a professional league. For their part, the US they didn’t back down, the country was in a state of excitement and he couldn’t wait to show himself to the world not only as the nation famous for basket, Beach football or baseball, but also for the game of football.

The Italian expedition

THEItaly introduces himself to Use 94 after the bitter disappointment of Italia 90, defeat in the semifinals a Naples byArgentina by Diego Armando Maradona and from the non-qualification ad € 92, a surprise tournament won by Denmark which took the place of Jugoslavia, excluded because of the war of the Balkans. On the bench Azzurra there is Arrigo Sacchi, a technician who does not like the bolt toItalian company, but spectacular football is devoted to attack.

La star brighter than our rose is Roberto Baggio, sublime footballer, crystalline technique, a pleasure for the eyes to see him dance on the green meadows, theItaly is in love with the Divin Codino. Arrigo Sacchi he never gives up on his 442, up front next to baggio Pierluigi contend for the place Casiraghi, powerful center forward, a ram, very skilled in the aerial game, Daniele Massaro, slippery attacker and very complicated to mark for the opposing defenders and then there is Beppe Gentlemen than with his Lazio scores piles of goals.

In homeland they would like the attacking couple to be formed by baggio and just from Gentlemen, but Sacchi is of another idea and very often plays thestriker area of Lazio as a winger in midfield, dramatically limiting the danger of the top scorer area of Series A. The competition does not start in the best way, theItaly is defeated byEire per 1 to 0, you absolutely have to win against the Norway. We succeed, despite the numerical inferiority due to the expulsion of the goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca, with a gore of Dino baggio. The third match is against the Mexico, let’s not go further 1-1, network of Massaro. We qualify as the best third, but there is concern in the country. L’Italy does not convince and del Divin Codino not even the shadow.

Il July 5 1994 the blues play the eighth final against Nigeria al Foxboro Stadium in Boston. super eagles they have an absolute level team: the blue they start well, but the Africans take the lead. There is discouragement, the home fans are incredulous, we stay in 10 for a non-existent expulsion of Zola, Other champion not frowned upon by our coach, we are now eliminated when al minute 88, Mussi fishes Roberto from the right Baggio, right control, an eye to the goalkeeper and with a billiard touch deposits the ball into the goal. Delirium on the pitch, but especially in the homes of all Italy. One step away from the ravine, we are still in balance. Extra time. There Nigeria he is afraid and we pass thanks to a rigor always of baggio. 2- 1, we are in the quarters.

Il July 9 1994, always a Boston it’s the turn of the Spain. We take the lead thanks to a shot by Dino baggio from about thirty meters, the game is fought and the Iberians reach breakeven. We are about to capitulate, Pagliuca pulls out a miracle, the ball seems to go towards the goal, but the goalkeeper blue manages to save her with one foot. To the minute 86 il Divin Codino is face to face with the goalkeeper spanish, fake body, the ball seems to go away, but the number 10 blue manages to kick while rolling on the ground. 2-1, Bruno Pizzul in the commentary he rejoices: “Goals from Roberto“. We are in the semifinals.

Baggio Bulgaria-Italy

Il July 13 1994, In Giant Stadiumdi New York, There is Bulgaria-Italy. Roberto baggio is now in phenomenon mode and 25 minutes has already signed two goals masterpiece, now Bruno Pizzul he no longer calls him by surname, he merely exclaims “Roberto”. I bulgari at the end of the first half they shorten the distances, but it is one of the few dangers of the match created, with the exception of a possible penalty for touch of the arm of Costacurta on which the referee flies over. The most important episode, on the other hand, takes place at minute 66, when R. baggio gets injured, he tries to stay on the pitch, but after a few minutes he has to give up. The whole nation is in bated breath, at the end of the meeting on number 10 he is in tears hugging Gigi Riva.

The final with Brazil Il July 17 1994 al RoseBowl di Pasadena the last act of the World. THE’Italy whole wonders if baggio will be of the match. The Divin Codino for the entire previous day he carries out physical auditions for

test athletic fit. Despite not being 100%, Sacchi ranks the owner and incredibly Franco is also in the game Baresi that only after 25 days from the operation to the meniscus he returns holder. In Brazil by the highly criticized Carlos Alberto Parreira, the men who scare the most are Romario e baby. The kick-off is set for 12.30, commercial choices have prevailed over logic.

A Pasadena the thermometer marks 36%, the humidity is al 70%, it seems to be in an oven, the temperature is very high even for almost people 25 million di Italian glued to the screen and thousands of kilometers away from the Rose Bowl which for the occasion contains more than 94 thousand spectators. The game begins, the squads are contracted, they feel the weight and importance of match. The first half ends without jolts. The second seems to retrace the plot of the first, when al minute 75, an almost shot ciabattato by Mauro Silva escapes from the hands of Pagliuca, the ball is bouncing into the goal, the goalkeeper blue is now beaten, can not do anything more, the fans Italian in front of the TV and those at the stadium hold their breath, there is now resignation, all in a fraction of a second, but the ball hits the post and delicately rests in the arms of the new goalkeeper Inter who gently thanks the wood by kissing it.

We are still alive, but the fright was enormous. Regular time ends with a majestic test of the re-entrant Baresi and with Roberto baggio limping. Proof of the number 10 blue it was really opaque, but it’s already a miracle to see him on the pitch. In extra time i green gold start better and waste a few good opportunities, theItaly acts of restarts, but the two teams are exhausted by the scorching heat and for the first time in the history of World, the final will be decided on penalties.

That damned penalty

Roberto Baggio

The tension between the fans blue all over the world is skyrocketing, mindful of the elimination by theArgentina ad Italia 90, right on penalties. The first pitch from eleven meters is up to Captain Franco Baresi, very tired and now on his legs, he massages his muscles a little before kicking, but his shot is not enough, he ends up high, leaving him motionless with his hands on his face. Pagliuca manages to neutralize Marcio’s first shot Santos, we are still tied. In subsequent penalties, for the blue realize from the disk Albertini ed Evani, but wrong Massaro. For Brazil they will realize Romario, White e Dunga.

It’s up to him, it’s up to Roberto Baggio. The Divin Codino approaches the disk very slowly, those 50 meters seem endless, who knows what he will be thinking, what feelings he will feel: The fans around the globe are silent, they do not want to distract the number 10. baggio arranges the ball, takes a run-up, shoots … the ball high on the right of the goalkeeper Taffarel. The Brazil è World Champion. Roberto he is stunned, incredulous, then it’s time to cry. The dream ends and to think that that penalty would not even have been decisive for the victory, but only to keep hoping. That damned penalty it changed the history of a man and that of an entire people.

Di Francesco Niglio

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