Friday May 15 2020
Azzurri celebrate 110 years

The Italian national team hosted France on this day in 1910, signalling not only their first international fixture but also the start of a historic rivalry.

The side initially represented the Kingdom of Italy, given the country did not become a republic until 1946.

Despite the green, white and red of the Tricolor flag, they would dress in Savoy blue, representing the colour of the royal House of Savoy, which reigned over the kingdom.

Coining the nickname ‘Gli Azzurri’ – or ‘The Blues’ in English – they played their first official match on May 15, 1910 against European neighbours France in Milan.

Umberto Meazza, of no relation to the legendary Giuseppe, lined Italy up in a 2-3-5 formation, the norm at the time against the French.

Les Bleus were founded six years earlier yet were thrashed 6-2 by the Italians, with then-Milan striker Pietro Lana scoring La Nazionale’s first-ever goal, before adding two more for his hat-trick.

The two nations have gone on to place themselves among Europe’s most successful in international football, with a combined six World Cups and three European Championships.

Italy have the edge head-to-head with 18 wins compared to France’s 11, but their rivalry did not become competitive until the 1938 World Cup quarter-finals.

The Azzurri won 3-1 on that occasion, en route to winning the competition on French soil as they beat Hungary 4-2 in the Paris Final.

France took revenge at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, but Italy hit back to beat them in the 2006 World Cup Final and send them crashing out of Euro 2008.

Italy’s first-ever starting XI: Arturo Boiocchi; Francesco Cali, Domenico Capello; Aldo Cevenini, Mario De Simoni, Enrico Debernardi; Virgilio Fossati, Pietro Lana, Giuseppe Rizzi, Atilio Trere, Francesco Varisco