The England-Italy is, possibly, the least classic classic among the great European rivalries at the national team level. They have met 27 times with 10 Italian victories, nine draws and eight English victories, but only eight of those matches were in official competition. Italy, for example, has met France in 39 games, with Spain in 38 and with Germany in 35. England reaches 32 against the Germans, 31 against the Gauls and 27 against the Spanish.
Never before had one of the great international competitions been played face to face. Italy sports four stars of world champions, they won the 1968 Eurocup and lost the 2000 and 2012 finals. England won their World Cup (1966) and had never reached a final in the European competition. However, in their 88 years of fighting there are parties that reached the category of battles.
The first duel dates from May 3, 1933 at the Olympic in Rome with Benito Mussolini as a witness (1-1). The locals were preparing for the 1934 World Cup that they ended up winning as organizers. It was the fight between two game modules. The method (2-3-2-3) used by Italy with Vittorio Pozzo on the bench, against the system (3-2-2-3) invented by Herbert Chapman, Arsenal manager, who also managed the national team.
Absent from the World Cup because, as inventors of the game, they thought they were the best in the world and did not have to prove it, England did propose a friendly against the champions a year and a half later. Italy visited Highbury, the now-defunct Arsenal stadium, a mere 20 kilometers from Wembley, with nine of the 11 players who had played in the final in June against Czechoslovakia.
Italy was quickly left with one less man. Monti, a nationalized Argentine, was literally broken off his foot. The game went into halftime with a clear 3-0 but the world champions were unwilling to suffer a humiliating defeat. His reaction was epic and somewhat violent, according to the Italian chronicles themselves. Giuseppe Meazza scored two goals and was about to draw, but the methods used in that second half were not the most sporty. An English player ended up with a broken nose, another with a shattered leg and a third with a broken arm. Something similar to what had happened during the World Cup 34 against Spain. From the Battle of Florence to the Battle of Highbury.
The rivalry was served. Italy did not win any of the first eight meetings. The first victory came after 40 years. In 1973, in Turin, with goals from Anastasi and Capello. They only had to wait five months for the first away win at Wembley, and Capello was once again the protagonist, scoring the winning goal from Chinaglia in a great counterattack. In those days it was considered that a midfielder like Capello scored those two goals in two consecutive games. In his entire career in the national team he scored eight in 32 games. Over the years, the player, already a coach, managed the English team (2007-12)
Italy does not know the defeat in the matches of the final stages of the World Cups: 1990 (2-1) and 2014 (2-1); nor of the European Cups: 1980 (1-0) and 2012 (0-0). The most important of all of them was the match for third and fourth place in Italy 90. The locals came from losing the semifinals on penalties against Argentina and England to do the same against Germany. Schillaci, who had come as a substitute to the World Cup, decided on a penalty for the small final four minutes from the end (2-1) and was proclaimed top scorer of the tournament with six goals.
In recent years, there is color azzurro. The British have only won one of the last seven games … and Italy plays with history. It is July 11, the same day as in 1982, he was proclaimed world champion.
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