At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

1990 World Cup - Italy’s consolation prize

Azzurri beat England for third place


The Italian team that faced England in Bari to decide which nation finished third at the 1990 World Cup
The Italian team that faced England in Bari to decide
which nation finished third at the 1990 World Cup
Italy beat England 2-1 in Bari to claim third place in the World Cup finals, of which they were the host nation, on this day in 1990.

It was a small consolation for the team, managed by Azeglio Vicini, who had played some of the best football of all the competing nations to reach the semi-finals, only to be held to a 1-1 draw by Argentina in Naples and then lose the match on a penalty shoot-out.

Their heartbreak mirrored that suffered by England, who had also suffered a defeat on penalties in their semi-final against West Germany in Turin.

Many neutrals believed that Italy and England would have been more worthy finalists, particularly in retrospect after West Germany had beaten Argentina by a penalty five minutes from the end of 90 minutes in a match of cynical fouls and attritional football that is seen as the poorest World Cup final in the competition’s history.

Azeglio Vicini was Italy's head coach for the 1990 World Cup on home soil
Azeglio Vicini was Italy's head coach for the
1990 World Cup on home soil
The play-off for third place lacked the intensity of a final, reflecting the heavy weight of disappointment each set of players was carrying.

Yet it was important to the Azzurri to finish on a high note and a crowd of 51,426 inside the Stadio San Nicola - a new stadium built specially for Italia ‘90 - saw the game decided with three goals in the final quarter.

The decider was particularly significant - a penalty converted by Salvatore ‘Toto’ Schillaci in the 86th minute.

The goal gave the Sicilian striker, an inspired choice for Vicini’s team who had been the revelation of the tournament, his sixth goal in Italia ‘90, earning him the coveted Golden Boot as the highest goalscorer, ahead of the Czechoslovakia forward Tomáš Skuhravý, whose tally of five included a hat-trick against Costa Rica in the round of 16 but whose team did not progress beyond the quarter-finals.

Italy’s first goal had been scored by Roberto Baggio, then with Fiorentina, who had been another of Italy’s stars. The brilliant playmaker had scored one of the best goals of the tournament against Czechoslovakia in the group stages.

Vicini’s team, in fact, was packed with exciting talent.  With one of the best defences in international football - comprising the AC Milan players Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini, and the Internazionale duo Giuseppe Bergomi and Riccardo Ferri - the coach could afford to attack with gusto and in addition to Baggio and Schillaci, he told the likes of Giuseppe Giannini, Roberto Donadoni and Gianluca Vialli to express their creative instincts whenever there was opportunity.

The Azzurri's brilliant playmaker, Roberto Baggio, scored against England
The Azzurri's brilliant playmaker, Roberto
Baggio, scored against England
The match was the first between Italy and England at a World Cup finals. The second, at the Brazil 2014 tournament, also ended in a 2-1 win for the Azzurri, although in the event neither qualified for the round of 16.

Of 27 international meetings in total, eight of them in competitive championship matches, Italy have 10 wins to England’s eight.

Today, England play Sweden in the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, hoping to reach the semi-finals for the first time since Italia ‘90.

Italy, meanwhile, have been absent from the finals for the first time since 1958, their 60-year run of qualifying ended coincidentally by Sweden, who beat them in a two-leg play off last November.

Their new coach is Roberto Mancini, who was a member of Vicini’s squad at Italia ‘90 but did not play.

Renzo Piano's Stadio San Nicola, built especially for the  1990 World Cup finals, is now the home of FC Bari
Renzo Piano's Stadio San Nicola, built especially for the
1990 World Cup finals, is now the home of FC Bari
Travel tip:

The Stadio San Nicola in Bari was designed by the award-winning Italian architect Renzo Piano, whose other creations include the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City and the Shard in London.  He saw the stadium as resembling an open flower, with spectators housed in 26 petals separated from one another by eight-metre wide void spaces. Purpose-built for the 1990 World Cup, it has a capacity of more than 58,000. After the World Cup it was the venue for the 1991 European Cup final between Marseille and Red Star Belgrade and became the home of FC Bari, who currently play in Serie B, the second tier of Italian domestic football.

The Stadio delle Alpi in Turin was unpopular with fans for a variety of reasons
The Stadio delle Alpi in Turin was unpopular with fans
for a variety of reasons
Travel tip:

Work on the Stadio delle Alpi in Turin began in 1988 and was completed in time for the World Cup.  Apart from hosting matches in the Italia ‘90 tournament it was to be the new home of Juventus and FC Torino following the closure of the Stadio Olimpico. But it was never popular. Apart from its out-of-town location - 8km (5 miles) from the city centre - compared with the Olimpico, fans disliked the stadium for giving them a poor viewing experience, mainly because of the distance between the stands and the pitch, with an athletics track surrounding the playing area. Advertising hoardings also affected the view.  Many fans boycotted it. One Coppa Italia match between Juventus and Sampdoria attracted just 237 spectators. It was demolished in 2006. Torino moved to a redeveloped Stadio Olimpico, which they shared with Juve until a purpose-built Juventus Stadium, with no running track, was built on the site of the Stadio delle Alpi.

More reading:

Was Roberto Baggio Italy's greatest player?

Azeglio Vicini and the heartbreak of Italia '90

The golden moment of Salvatore Schillaci

Also on this day:

1573: The death of architect Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola

1901: The birth of film director Vittorio De Sica

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