As host nation, Italy were automatically qualified for the 1990 World Cup. This section summarizes the years 1988, post European Championship, through to pre-tournament 1990 for Gli Azzurri.
Results and reports (***work in progress***)
Italy 2-1 Norway
19.10.1988, Stadio Adriatico (Pescara)
Goals: Giannini (pen.), Ferri
Line-up (3-5-2): Zenga - Bergomi (c) (Ferrara h-t), Baresi, Ferri - De Napoli, Donadoni (De Agostini 36), Giannini, Berti, Maldini - Vialli, Mancini (Rizzitelli 77)
A familiar-looking Italy struggle to get going, and they need a penalty and a thunderbolt free-kick to secure a narrow win against plucky visitors. Three players from the Olympic semi-finalist team were brought on during the game.
Italy 1-0 Netherlands
16.11.1988, Stadio Olimpico (Rome)
Line-up (3-5-2): Tacconi - Bergomi (c), Baresi, Ferri - Rizzitelli (Ferrara 53), De Napoli, Giannini, De Agostini (Berti 82), Maldini - Vialli, Baggio
This was far from a vintage Italy performance, and they owed largely to stand-in 'keeper Tacconi and the forward duo their win. The former had got a rare opportunity to impress against a much-changed Dutch outfit, which included three starting debutants, and he'd done his own cause no harm whatsoever with three fine first-half stops. The front two had conjured up the winning goal just before the break. Italy, who had struggled to contain lively winger Huistra in the first half, had had better control defensively in the second half, but they'd failed to impress, at least based on possession alone.
Italy 2-0 Scotland
22.12.1988, Stadio Renato Curi (Perugia)
Goals: Giannini (pen.), Berti
Line-up (3-5-2): Zenga (Tacconi 51) - Bergomi (c) (Ferrara 51), Baresi, Ferri - Crippa, Berti, Giannini, Marocchi, Maldini - Vialli, Serena
Italy claimed their third successive post European Championships win, as they without too much effort brushed aside a disappointing Scottish outfit that never put up a great fight. A twice-taken penalty from Giannini and a headed effort from Berti were the goals, and Italy displayed defensive security throughout. Sound debuts for midfield men Marocchi, their most defensive in that department on the day, and Crippa, who played wide to the right in De Napoli's absence. Serena a thorn in the Scottish side all afternoon.
Italy 1-0 Denmark
22.02.1989, Stadio Arena Garibaldi (Pisa)
Line-up (3-5-2): Zenga - Bergomi (c), Baresi, Ferri (Ferrara h-t) - Donadoni (Crippa 68), De Napoli, Giannini, Berti, Maldini - Vialli (Borgonovo 75), Serena
Vicini had restored to the line-up both Donadoni and De Napoli, and he continued with three at the back. Giannini enjoyed plenty of attacking freedom in his advanced role, something which he seemed to relish. Italy were quite dominant, although they did not do sufficiently with their amount of possession. Their two forwards were well marshalled by the Danish defence, and Schmeichel proved a major obstacle when Berti got played in on goal. Bergomi got the decisive goal with an hour on the clock, and gli Azzurri saw the game out without exerting themselves as an attacking force, with Vicini clearly having had a wish to see how strong their defensive mettle was. It was rarely tested by below par visitors.
Austria 0-1 Italy
25.03.1989, Praterstadion (Vienna)
Line-up (3-5-2): Zenga - Bergomi (c), Baresi, Ferri - Donadoni, De Napoli, Giannini, Berti, Maldini (De Agostini h-t) - Vialli, Serena (Borgonovo 22)
Italy might have been away from home, but they were the dominant side in possession, and only for spells let the hosts maintain the ball. Despite their first half superiority, they did need Zenga to save three times after two efforts from distance by Zsak and a trademark shot by Polster, and the 'keeper also saved comfortably a second half volley from substitute Rodax. Italy, who needed to make an early striker's change when Serena picked up a knock, had a first half 'goal' from Borgonovo disallowed for offside. Berti had several runs into the area, and got his reward two minutes from time with a header which went in off the groun from De Agostini's delightfully flighted cross
Romania 1-0 Italy
29.03.1989, Stadionul Municipal (Sibiu)
Line-up (4-4-2): Zenga - Bergomi (c) (Marocchi 52), Baresi, Ferri (Maldini 39), Ferrara - Donadoni (Baggio 65), Giannini, De Napoli, Berti - Vialli, Borgonovo
Despite a double woodwork hit in the second half, Italy are somewhat short of creativity. Vicini tried out a couple of different formations (4-4-2/3-5-2), and will not have been too impressed with Borgonovo (?).
Italy 1-1 Uruguay
22.04.1989, Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi (Verona)
Line-up (4-4-2): Zenga (Tacconi h-t) - Bergomi (c), Baresi, Ferri, De Agostini - Giannini, Marocchi, Berti, Baggio - Vialli (Carnevale 41), Serena
It will have been a worry that Italy were struggling to unlock their opponents for a second successive match; for the goal they had to rely on Baggio's individual brilliance. And can they make it all the way in the World Cup without carrying a counter-attacking threat?
Italy 4-0 Hungary
26.04.1989, Stadio Erasmo Iacovone (Taranto)
Goals: Vialli, Ferri, Berti, Carnevale
Line-up (4-4-2): Zenga - Ferrara, Baresi, Ferri, Maldini (Bergomi 78) - Donadoni, Giannini (Fusi 73), De Napoli, Berti - Vialli (c) (Serena h-t), Carnevale
The hosts carried way too much quality for a non-cohesive Hungarian unit, and Italy had some truly stand-out performers in midfielders Donadoni and Giannini, as well as striker Carnevale, who made his full debut and capped it with a goal. Italy did allow the visitors a couple of crossbar hits late on, but were simply too dominant and powerful for Hungary to cope with.
Italy 4-0 Bulgaria
20.09.1989, Stadio Dino Manuzzi (Cesena)
Goals: Baggio 2 (1 pen), Carnevale, Vialli
Line-up (4-4-2): Zenga - Bergomi (c) (Ferrara 76), Baresi, Ferri, Maldini (De Agostini 61) - De Napoli, Marocchi (Crippa 68), Giannini, Baggio - Vialli, Carnevale
Italy survive early scare as Stoichkov strike inside of post, but come good and eventually win comfortably. Baggio truly standing out, having a hand in all of the four goals.
Italy 0-1 Brazil
14.10.1989, Stadio Renato Dall'Ara (Bologna)
Line-up (3-5-2): Zenga - Bergomi (c), Baresi, Ferri (Ferrara h-t) - De Napoli, Berti, Giannini (Fusi 60), Baggio, De Agostini - Vialli, Carnevale
Italy succumb to late wonder-strike from substitute André Cruz in full-blooded and prestigeous encounter.
Italy 1-0 Algeria
11.11.1989, Stadio Romeo Menti (Vicenza)
Line-up (4-4-2): Zenga - Bergomi (c) (Ferrara h-t), Baresi, Ferri, De Agostini - De Napoli (Donadoni 51), Giannini, Marocchi, Baggio - Vialli, Carnevale (Serena 71)
Italy dominant from start to finish, but El-Hadi makes some fine saves to keep Algeria in the game for 70 minutes.
England 0-0 Italy
15.11.1989, Wembley (London)
Line-up (3-5-2): Zenga - Bergomi (c), Baresi, Ferri - De Napoli, Donadoni, Giannini, Berti, Maldini - Vialli (Baggio 83), Carnevale (Serena 71)
Italy were played deep by determined and physical opponents, and though Carnevale was unlucky to have a good first half goal ruled out for offside, Vicini could by far be the happier of the two managers about the outcome. The 3-5-2 did not seem to bring the best out of Italy, who never managed a single effort on target.
Italy 0-0 Argentina
21.12.1989, Stadio Sant' Elia (Cagliari)
Line-up (3-5-2): Zenga (Tacconi h-t) - Bergomi (c), Baresi, Ferrara - De Napoli, Donadoni (Mancini h-t), Giannini, Berti, Maldini (De Agostini h-t) - Vialli (Fusi 69), Serena
Very hard-fought game in which few chances were created by either team. Ferrara in for Ferri, no Baggio anywhere to be seen, and Carnevale had been replaced by Serena in the striker's position. Teams nullified the threat from one another.
21.02.1990 Netherlands 0-0 Italy
31.03.1990 Switzerland 0-1 Italy