Monday June 19 2017
On This Day: Italy win second World Cup

On this day in 1938, Italy won their second World Cup with a 4-2 victory over Hungary in Paris.

The Azzurri had lifted the trophy on home soil four years previously, but were unpopular holders when they arrived in France.

The repressive regime of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini sparked anger from French fans toward the side which they saw as representing il Duce.

Their cause was not helped by the instruction to give a Roman salute before each match, with protests following the Italians around throughout the tournament.

A comfortable 3-1 win over the hosts in front of a hostile crowd in Paris saw the Azzurri through to the semi-finals, where Gino Colaussi’s goal and a Giuseppe Meazza penalty saw them emerge 2-1 winners.

Vittorio Pozzo’s men produced their best display of the tournament to beat Hungary 4-2, with left-back Pietro Rava later claiming their display had won over the hostile crowd.

Colaussi put Italy ahead after just six minutes, but they were immediately pegged-back by Pal Titkos.

The Azzurri then turned on the style, with Colaussi striking again and Silvio Piola putting them 3-1 up.

Magyar captain Gyorgy Sarosi put them back in with a chance, but Piola scored again to secure the trophy for Italy.

Pozzo later claimed “our players never even dreamed of making it something political”, and were merely proud to play for their country, rather than overtly espousing fascism.

However, with the outbreak of the Second World War just one year later, the images of the Italy players giving the Roman salute remains one of the more unedifying in World Cup history, somewhat overshadowing the great achievement of back-to-back trophies.

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