As host nation, Italy were automatically qualified for the 1990 World Cup. Thus, whilst the other European teams embarked on their qualification campaigns, manager Azeglio Vicini had the relative comfort of going through a schedule of friendlies, preparing his team for the World Cup tournament on home soil. Vicini had succeeded the legendary Enzo Bearzot after the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where Italy had been eliminated in the 1/4 finals. Prior to that, Vicini had earned his reputation as head coach for Italy’s under-21 team with some impressive results, making him the natural choice for the Italian FA for replacing Bearzot. Vicini had introduced a crop of new, young players in the team that had qualified for the 1988 European Championships, in which Italy perhaps had exited at the penultimate hurdle, losing 2-0 to the Soviet Union in the semi finals, but more importantly given a solid impression and displayed exciting talent that instilled hope in the Italians before the summer of 1990. Read more…
World Cup appearances:
1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986
Manager: Azeglio Vicini
Stadio Adriatico, Pescara
Giannini (20′ pen)
Brandhaug (41′ pen)
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.
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).
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
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.
Line-up (3-5-2): Tacconi – Bergomi (c), Baresi, Ferri – Rizzitelli (Ferrara 53), De Napoli, Giannini, De Agostini (Berti 82), Maldini – Vialli, Baggio.
Stadio Renato Curi, Perugia
Giannini (49′ pen)
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.
Line-up (3-5-2): Zenga (Tacconi 51) – Bergomi (c) (Ferrara 51), Baresi, Ferri – Crippa, Berti, Giannini, Marocchi, Maldini – Vialli, Serena.
Stadio Arena Garibaldi, Pisa
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.
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.
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.
Line-up (3-5-2): Zenga – Bergomi (c), Baresi, Ferri – Donadoni, De Napoli, Giannini, Berti, Maldini (De Agostini h-t) – Vialli, Serena (Borgonovo 22).
Stadionul Municipal, Sibiu
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 (?).
Line-up (4-4-2): Zenga – Bergomi (c) (Marocchi 52), Baresi, Ferri (Maldini 39), Ferrara – Donadoni (Baggio 65), Giannini, De Napoli, Berti – Vialli, Borgonovo.
Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi, Verona
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?
Line-up (4-4-2): Zenga (Tacconi h-t) – Bergomi (c), Baresi, Ferri, De Agostini – Giannini, Marocchi, Berti, Baggio – Vialli (Carnevale 41), Serena.
Stadio Erasmo Iacovone, Taranto
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.
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.
Stadio Dino Manuzzi, Cesena
Baggio (19′ pen, 35′)
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.
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.
Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, Bologna
André Cruz (77′)
Italy succumb to late wonder-strike from substitute André Cruz in full-blooded and prestigeous encounter.
Line-up (3-5-2): Zenga – Bergomi (c), Baresi, Ferri (Ferrara h-t) – De Napoli, Berti, Giannini (Fusi 60), Baggio, De Agostini – Vialli, Carnevale.
Stadio Romeo Menti, Vicenza
Italy dominant from start to finish, but El-Hadi makes some fine saves to keep Algeria in the game for 70 minutes.
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 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.
Line-up (3-5-2): Zenga – Bergomi (c), Baresi, Ferri – De Napoli, Donadoni, Giannini, Berti, Maldini – Vialli (Baggio 83), Carnevale (Serena 71).
Stadio Sant’ Elia, Cagliari
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.
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.