Italy at the Euros
Football Italia recounts Italy’s steps through the European Championships, tournament by tournament. The Azzurri opted not to enter the inaugural tournament.
Italy, England and West Germany were among several notable names who decided not to enter the inaugural European Championship, then known as the European Nations’ Cup.
With the Quarter-Finals played over two legs home and away, Spain [then under Fascist dictatorship] refused to travel to the USSR [United Soviet Socialist Republics]. The final tournament therefore featured three communist nations alongside hosts France.
In the first semi-final in Paris, Les Bleus were defeated by Yugoslavia in a thriller. Milan Galić opened the scoring for the Yugoslavs, before Jean Vincent, François Heutte and Maryan Wiskieski put the hosts up 3-1.
However, Yugoslavia hit back through Ante Žanetić, before another Heutte goal restored France’s two-goal cushion. With just 15 minutes remaining, Tomislav Knez reduced the arrears, and Drazen Jerkovic struck in the 78th and 79th minute to send Yugoslavia to the final.
Later that night in Marseille, the Soviet Union dispatched Czechoslovakia 3-0 with a double from Valentin Ivanov and a Victor Ponedelnik goal.
A crowd of just 9,438 turned up to see Czechoslovakia beat France into fourth-place, while Ponedelnik’s extra-time winner saw the USSR lift the trophy at Parc Des Princes.