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1990 - Hosts: Italy - Winners: West Germany

Italian progress: Third place

Football Italia recounts Italy’s steps through the World Cup, tournament by tournament. The tournament returned to Italian soil after 56 years and in the process unearthed one of calcio’s great cult heroes, but there would be no glory for the hosts.

A defeat that still hurts...

The tournament returned to Italian soil after 56 years and in the process unearthed one of calcio’s great cult heroes. Salvatore Toto Schillaci had been playing for Messina in Serie B as recently as 1989 but a prolific season for Juventus in 1989-90 earned him a late call – he only made his Italy debut in March 1990.

Only a sub for the opener with Austria, but after 75 minutes of frustration and missed chances Azeglio Vicini withdrew Andrea Carnevale and gave Toto his chance – four minutes later he announced himself to the world. A Giuseppe Giannini goal secured a win over the United States, leaving the last game with Czechoslovakia to settle top spot in Group A. Vicini started with both Schillaci and Roberto Baggio, and after Schillaci had added his second of the event it was Baggio’s turn to shine with a marvellous solo goal.

Schillaci again struck in the 2-0 win over Uruguay in Round Two, and he was also the hero in a hard-fought win over Ireland in the last eight. Waiting in the semi-finals were Argentina, paths crossing with Italy for the fifth tournament in a row. Italy reached the last four without conceding and Argentina were far from the winning side of 1986. Held in Naples, where the mercurial Maradona played domestically, some canny campaigning by El Pibe ensured more than a handful of the home crowd backed the South Americans.

Inevitably, Schillaci bagged the opener but the pressure crushed the hosts and they could not put the game out of reach. After 517 minutes of the event they finally conceded as Claudio Caniggia headed past Walter Zenga for the leveller. Extra-time saw no result so Italy faced their first World Cup shoot-out. Six penalties were converted before Sergio Goycochea saved Roberto Donadoni’s effort. Maradona scored Argentina’s fourth and when Aldo Serena’s was also saved the hosts were out. A 2-1 win over England in the 3rd/4th play-off was little consolation, although it allowed Schillaci to get his sixth goal and the Golden Boot.


09-Jun-90 Italy 1-0 Austria Group A
14-Jun-90 Italy 1-0 United States Group A
19-Jun-90 Italy 2-0 Czechoslovakia Group A
Group A Pts P W D L F A
Italy 6 3 3 0 0 4 0
Czechoslovakia 4 3 2 0 1 6 3
Austria 2 3 1 0 2 2 3
United States 0 3 0 0 3 2 8
25-Jun-90 Italy 2-0 Uruguay Round of 16
30-Jun-90 Italy 1-0 Rep of Ireland Quarter-final
03-Jul-90 Italy 1-1 Argentina Semi-final
    (3-4 on pens)    
07-Jul-90 Italy 2-1 England Third/fourth play-off


No Pos Name Apps Gls
1 GK Walter Zenga 7  
12 GK Stefano Tacconi    
22 GK Gianluca Pagliuca    
2 D Franco Baresi 7  
3 D Giuseppe Bergomi 7  
4 D Luigi De Agostini 6  
5 D Ciro Ferrara 1  
6 D Riccardo Ferri 7  
7 D Paolo Maldini 7  
8 D Pietro Vierchowod 3  
9 M Carlo Ancelotti 3  
10 M Nicola Berti 4  
11 M Fernando De Napoli 6  
13 M Giuseppe Giannini 7 1
14 M Giancarlo Marocchi    
17 M Roberto Donadoni 5  
15 A Roberto Baggio 5 2
16 A Andrea Carnevale 2  
18 A Roberto Mancini    
19 A Salvatore Schillaci 7 6
20 A Aldo Serena 3 1
21 A Gianluca Vialli 3  
  Coach Azeglio Vicini    

Did you know?

Italy were awarded the right to host the tournament in 1984, seeing off rival bids from England, Greece and the Soviet Union.

When Caniggia scored in the semi-final it ended a run of 10 consecutive Italian clean sheets dating back to October 1989, when Andre Cruz had netted for Brazil in a friendly.

The first-period of extra-time in the semi-final actually ran for 23 minutes due to referee Michel Vautrot’s watch stopping and protests over the dismissal of Argentina’s Ricardo Giusti.