Football Italia recounts Italy’s steps through the World Cup, tournament by tournament. Italy’s World Cup debut in 1934 ended in spectacular fashion as Vittorio Pozzo’s gifted team lifted the Jules Rimet trophy.
Among Vittorio Pozzo’s first Italian World Cup squad were three Argentine-born players – Luis Monti, Raimundo Orsi and Enrique Guaita. Responding to criticisms of the policy Pozzo compared the men’s inclusion to their eligibility for military service: “If they can die for Italy, they can play for Italy.”
In their opener the Azzurri hammered the United States, late entrants and left with little time to prepare. Bologna legend Angelo Schiavio claimed Italy’s first goals and even the US’s strike had an Italian flavour as Aldo Donelli was the son of Italian immigrants.
In Round Two Spain were the opponents, but after a rough and tumble first game – in which great Spanish goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora was injured – a sole Giuseppe Meazza goal sent Italy to the semi-final in the replay. La Furia Roja had goals disallowed in both games and headed home with an air of suspicion.
A rain-soaked San Siro witnessed a semi win over Austria’s Wunderteam, with Guaita scoring to set up a Final against Czechoslovakia. The Czechs, made up of players solely from Sparta and Slavia Prague, were skippered by ‘keeper Frantisek Planicka but it was Italy custodian Giampiero Combi who lifted the Jules Rimet.
The match turned in the 70th minute when Antonin Puc put Czechoslovakia ahead, and they should have put the game well beyond Italy before Orsi equalised. Five minutes into injury time Schiavio scored the crucial goal, allowing Combi to receive the trophy from Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini.
|27-May-34||Italy||7-1||United States||Round One|
Two of Italy’s 1934 squad members – Napoli goalkeeper Giuseppe Cavanna and Milan striker Pietro Arcari – never played a single minute for Italy, yet finished their careers with World Cup medals.
Uruguay refused to travel to Italy, as a response to the Europeans failure to compete in 1930. Consequently, they are the only champions not to defend their title.
As well as receiving the Jules Rimet Trophy the Azzurri were also presented with the Coppa del Duce. That trophy now resides in the Museo del Calcio in Coverciano.