italy, gli azzurri
Shortly after being founded in 1910, Italy organized its first official match with France. They won 6-2 in front of approximately 4,000 spectators at Arena Civica, with Pietro Lana scoring the first goal. Pleased with the performance, the team’s fans rewarded the players by throwing them cigarette packets. This was one of only two games that Italy would play in white kits; next year, they switched to blue jerseys inspired by the royal House of Savoy crest on the national flag.
The team’s first notable success arrived in 1928, when they placed third in the Summer Olympics football tournament. Eight years later, they would go a step further by winning the competition, beating Austria 2-1 in the final match. In between these two appearances, they won the Central European International Cup on two occasions. They were also invited to the inaugural World Cup in 1930, but they declined to participate.
- Italy has won 4 world cups and 2 European championships. Making them a powerhouse on the national level.
- Italy’s top scorer is Luigi Riva with 35 goals for Gli Azzurri
- Italy is one of 2 countries that has won back to back World Cups. Done in 1934 and 1938.
Following this achievement, Italy started struggling to return to its winning ways. They went out in the first round at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cup and missed out on the 2018 World Cup altogether. Their appearances at the European Championships were a bit more inspiring, though. Both the 2008 and the 2014 edition of the Euro saw the Azzurri make the quarter-finals, but they were knocked out on penalties on both occasions.
Their most successful showing during this period arrived at the Euro 2012. After escaping a tough group containing Spain and Croatia, Italy defeated England on penalties. They followed it up by beating Germany 2-0 in the semi-finals, with Mario Balotelli scoring both goals. The final match against Spain was quite anticlimactic, though, as their opponents took an early lead and controlled the game on the way to a 4-0 rout.
In 2021, Italy would triumph by winning the European Championship for the second time. England stood as opponents and the result was 1-1 after full time and no goals were made during the extra time. In the following penalty shoot-out, Italy succeed three out of five times whereas the goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma made two saves (a third England penalty was going in the post).