***I DON’T HAVE FIFA’S PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT TO USE, TALK, THINK OR EVEN YELL AT RANDOS FROM MY BALCONY ABOUT ANY NAMES, COUNTRIES OR EVENTS MENTIONED IN MY FIFA WORLD CUP QATAR 2022 COVERAGE, SO FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS FROM HERE ON IN, THE EVENT WILL BE REFERRED TO AS QLAMQTAR 2022.***
The Qlamqtar 2022 World Cup is only about two moons away (depending on your own set of lunar circumstances) and the first ever World Cup held in the Arab world promises to be a real doozy. World Cup history is a tale resplendent with stories of triumph against the odds, childhood dreams coming true and unsung heroes becoming legends. As well as dumb idiot losers, wanker fuck ups and teams that are just total bullshit.
But how shall ye learn about these legends, losers and teams that are just total bullshit? Well look no further my wayward friend as I profile all 211 FIFA nations eligible for World Cup qualification. Today, I take a look at Italy, which has qualified for the World Cup 18 times, winning it four times, in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006.
Yeah, it does actually have a national team
Nickname: Gli Azzurri
FIFA Ranking: 7 (August 2022)
FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualification result: Failed to qualify (UEFA), losing to North Macedonia in UEFA Playoff Path C semi-finals
If you watched the 2018 World Cup and are planning to tune into the 2022 World Cup you might’ve –and you’re no doubt going to notice–the absence of one of Europe’s largest countries–Italy. In fact, if you also got into the 2014 and the 2010 World Cup you pretty much saw the same then too. However, contrary to how it appears, Italy does actually have a national football team that competes in the FIFA World Cup.
In fact, not only does it have a team that competes every four years in World Cup qualifying, but, believe it or not, it’s actually won the actual cup four times. Crazy right? You wouldn’t thought so based on the last 14 years of World Cup qualifying and final tournaments.
The last time the Azzurri won a game at the World Cup was the final of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. From that point, they failed to win a single game against Paraguay, New Zealand or Slovakia at the 2010 World Cup, they did manage to beat England but still went out at the group stage at the 2014 tournament, lost to Sweden in a playoff for a spot at the 2018 World Cup, and North Macedonia in the World Cup 2022 UEFA qualifying playoff semi-finals (below). Italy may be a nation of schemers but regardless of how furbo the Italians are, scheming their way into the World Cup lately seems beyond even them.
At least in 1950 they had a reason for their disappearance (plane crash), and ditto in 1966 (coming up against the formidable Semi-professional North Koreans). But how the mighty fallen. Things didn’t used to be this way at all.
Italy were the first team to win back-to-back World Cups in 1934 and 1938, and due to the outbreak of the second World War, it kept its title as world champs for another 12 years, until the first post-war World Cup took place in Brazil in 1950. More recently, the Italians impressively defeated Brazil, Argentina, Poland and West Germany on the way to the title in Spain in 1982 and in 2006, amid a match-fixing scandal in its own backyard, went all the way again, defeating France in the final and conceding just one goal in open play (an own goal, mind) throughout their entire victorious run.
Despite post-2006 records clearly demonstrating an absence of any team named ‘Italy national team’, the team listed with this name had once been witnessed at the World Cup regularly, not only winning it four times, but also falling just short in the final twice–both times to Brazil. Their 1970 loss in the final was at the hands of arguably the greatest team ever assembled and their 1994 defeat against another formidable Brazilian outfit, this time on penalties.
Historians maintain that an Italian national football team does in fact exist, particularly after their performances in the Euros, losing to France in the Euro 2000 final only after conceding a last minute goal and then a golden goal, losing in the final at Euro 2012 to another legendary team–Spain this time–and most recently, the most compelling evidence of suggesting existence of the team was seen just last summer at Euro 2020. The fact remains that these scattered signs of life don’t confirm the existence of an Italian national team, particularly as it’s been more than 16 long years since the whole world actually caught a proper glimpse of them.
That day in Berlin back in July 2006 was the last confirmed sighting of an Italian national team, and while there appears to be little hope of seeing them at the World Cup anytime soon, Italians still maintain a profound faith in the existence of an Italy national team, and in hope that It one day will return, they piously pray very aggressively and gesticulate confounding sentiments of which only an Italian can understand.
One to watch: Z100’s “Arriva Arriva”, if you’re freaking out about the state of the Italian national football team/its scandalous political system/racism in the country and its attitudes towards Blacks, Jews and Muslims/its rage-inducing bureaucracy/its ageing, stagnant conservative society and the subsequent social security crisis that is looming
Should you be panicking about the future of the Italian national team or the fragile state of the country’s society in general, Z100’s 1995 club banger is just the medicine you need. So stop weeping in the shower, climb up out of the foetal position and up off the floor, hit play on this puppy above, and jump around out of control singing: “NON TI PREOCCUPARE, NON TI PREOCCUPARE, ARRIVA ARRIVA QUELLO CHE DEVE ARRIVARE, NON TI PREOCCUPARE, NON TI PREOCCUPARE, DEVE ARRIVARE, NON TI PREOCCUPARE, NON TI PREOCCUPARE, ARRIVA ARRIVA QUELLO CHE DEVE ARRIVARE, NON TI PREOCCUPARE, NON TI PREOCCUPARE, DEVE ARRIVARE (“DON’T YOU WORRY, DON’T YOU WORRY, WHATEVER WILL COME, WILL COME, DON’T YOU WORRY, DON’T YOU WORRY, WHATEVER WILL COME, WILL COME, DON’T YOU WORRY, DON’T YOU WORRY, WHATEVER WILL COME, WILL COME, DON’T YOU WORRY, DON’T YOU WORRY, WHATEVER WILL COME, WILL COME”). Problem solved. You’re welcome.
The Highpoint: Winners, 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006 World Cups
Yeah, yeah, take your pick. Four World Cups. But BFD. Does anyone talk about what role their semi-final win via coin toss over the Soviet Union at Euro 1968 played in the momentum and confidence and status of its league or both future Italian sides and past ones? No. The flip of a GD coin. It’s all that got Italy to the Euro 1968 final, one in which they beat Yugoslavia and became European champions for the first ever time. But no one talks about that do they? It’s just all about the World Cup wins isn’t it, not the plain assing it to the Euro 1968 final and its intangible and immeasurable effect it had on past and previous squads. Meh.
Learn the lingo & speak like a local!
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE | LEAGUE A
22 Sep 2022
ITALY 🇮🇹 x ☕️ ENGLAND
26 SEP 2022
HUNGARY 🇭🇺 x 🇮🇹 ITALY
WORLD CUP QATAR 2022 | GROUP STAGE
(hit play below for this information)