The Team: The 1982 Italian squad was comprised of many of the same men who finished fourth in 1978, and this time they would hoist the world’s most coveted trophy. Coach Enzo Bearzot had several very talented players at his disposal, including unparalled playmaker Paolo Rossi, Marco Tardelli, Giuseppe Bergomi, and strong goalkeeper Dino Zoff.
Once again, the Italian team drew players from only Serie A’s most dominant squads, including Juventus (6), Inter (5), Fiorentina (5), Milan (2), Udinese (1), Cagliari (1) and Torino (1). It was Rossi of Juventus though who would leave an indelible mark on the 1982 World Cup, and in the process he would become a legend and national hero.
The Tournament: Italy’s early performance in the tournament was actually very mediocre, as the team tied three straight matches and barely escaped the group stage based on a goals scored tiebreaker. Many folks blamed their poor start on a Serie A match-fixing scandal that had arisen at the time (hmm, sound familiar to anyone out there?)
In the tourney’s later stages, Italy transformed into a dominant team. They beat both ARG and BRA to advance to the semis, an amazing feat. They schooled Poland to reach the Final, and once there they dismantled a very good West German team. Rossi was awarded the Golden Boot and Golden Ball. All in all, they were a great team and deserve the #2 spot over the earlier World Cup winning teams who didn’t have to face nearly as much strong competition.