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Memories Of Italy Vs. Argentina 82

An article about Italy’s 1982 2-1 win against Argentina in the 1982 world cup played in Spain and what it felt like for an Italian supporter to have to watch the game amongst a family of Argentine supporters.

It was the summer of 82 and Italy had been placed in the same group as Brazil and Argentina with the team to come in first place being the one to progress through to the semifinal. Italy up in till that point like the other two teams in its group had also played three games yet unlike Argentina and Brazil had not won any of its games, in rout to becoming the first team to qualify to the second round of a world cup without wining a single game. This in contrast to Scotland in 74, who became the first team in the world cup to be eliminated in the first round without loosing a single game.

Italy in Spain 82 qualified to the second round by virtue of obtaining three draws, first to Poland (0-0) then to Peru (1-1) and last but not least to Cameroon (1-1) which in my opinion did not really reflect the quality of the Italian team of the time, which held in its ranks players the likes of Rossi, Tardelli, Antognoni, Cabrini, Conti and their legendary goal keeper Dino Zoff. Italy had not won a single game from their first three this I was not denying however in all truth, they could have won all three and perhaps should have as in their first match against Poland, their creative midfielder; Antognoni hit the cross bar. It was against Peru however that Italy would score thanks to Conti;18 minutes in to the first half. This only to see Peru level the score with 7 minutes remanding in the match with a goal that some credit to their defender; Diaz though in reality the ball unluckily for Italy bounced of their central defender Colovati; sending Zoff the wrong way as the ball slowly made its way in to the net for the equalizer.

As for the third and last game Italy played in the first round, it saw them tie Cameroon by the same score as they had done against Peru and in a similar fashion of scoring first and then giving up the equalizing goal. It in a way was a strange goal that saw Italy go ahead as Graziani headed the ball past Cameroon’s Nokono, who picked a most inopportune time to give up his first goal and the only one he would in the tournament, as it was but a slip that allowed this weak header to put Italy up 1-0. Cameroon however would come back to equal matters, one minute later via a goal by Mbida at the 61 minute mark which in all truth should have been ruled offside yet was not though this did not matter for a draw was enough for Italy to progress along with Poland to the next round.

Italy had made it to the second round though not many gave it a chance to go through to the semifinal in a group that included the winners of four years ago with Maradona and Brazil the team which without much room for doubt was showing not only the most consistent football in the tournament but also the best. Italy in all this one could say had a great team, with the players to make a difference yet they were not coming up with the results they should have while in all this I felt they could stage an upset of at least Argentina.

Maradona was great, this held little doubt in anybody’s mind but despite this factor he could be controlled if not stopped; as Belgium had shown through heavy marking which limited his activity though he did have a slight miss on a free kick that hit the bar which prevented him from getting on the score sheet. Maradona could be defeated or so I had seen on that first day of play but it would not be easy as to a large extent it had to be in part to his not being in full form as he did tend to have such days, not that his teammates at the time were of such a great help to him as in all truth their time was past.

Maradona however was not one to take lightly as he had demonstrated against Hungary whom he scored two goals against apart from his passes which lead to their other two goals in what went on to be a 4-1 rout of the team that had beaten El Salvador by 10-1. Maradona was in good form yet fortunately for Italy; his team was only the same which had won the world cup in having the same players but not in quality of play which would not render him the help he would be so much in need of. This the case since players like Kempes, Ardiles and Bertoni were producing well below what they had four years ago.

The game started this I will never forget, with me watching it at the house of relatives of mine, in Argentina who naturally were all supporting the blue and whites while I was doing likewise for the “azurri” of Italy. The first half for the most part was a boring defense minded affair with both teams locked in the midfield, which they fought with everything they had in order to gain control of. As for Maradona, this man was being watched very carefully and at times brutally by a defender by the name of Claudio Gentile, who was like a shadow; following him all over the field where ever it was he went. Some of the fouls by Gentile looking back were unfair and without a doubt today would have lead to a red card but in those days with rules being more liberal on defenders it was only a yellow card that Gentile was booked with. Of course in all this I could see the cause of the anger in those about me that supported Argentina but I can not claim to have been against it as It was keeping this player capable of it all, at least in control, even if in an un sportsmanship like manner.

The first half ended 0-0, with everybody in my Argentine family being not only clearly against Italy but me, as they could see that my frame of mind was for an Italian victory. It was their teasing that lead me to declare that I felt Italy would win in the second half, in spite of Italy not only not having won a game so far in this world cup. As for the second half it started with Italy moving back in to defensive positions to play the counter attack in an attempt to free up the midfield and take advantage of the vacant spaces left when ever Pasarella, Tarantini, and Olguin went forward in attack.

This was a stroke of genius by Berzot which did not take long to show results as 11 minutes in to the second half, Tardelli would receive a pass in the middle of the Argentine defense on a run which would see him pass off the ball to Antognoni, who would in a perfectly timed relay pass find him in the penalty box and in the clear. This being perhaps Italy’s first real scoring chance which Tardelli did not waste by striking an almost perfect crossing shot to beat Argentina’s Fillol and give Italy a 1-0 lead. Goal was the shout heard from me in the middle of Argentine supporters who really were not all that pleased at what had occurred and less so to have it reminded in their presence by my shout that they were loosing.

The game at that moment continued in the same fashion it had been till that moment only with Argentina putting on more pressure, which the commentator as well as those around me felt was bound to end up in an equalizer for their team if not the one to go ahead goal. It was a nerve raking moment; reminding me of what I had been through four years ago, in all those matches specially the one against Holland, where we had also taken the lead only to loose.

Argentina attacked while Italy was dangerous on the counter, something I was hoping would lead to the one that put it away for Italy. Argentina however kept coming and fouls increased around Italy’s penalty box. As Gentile had to resort to such tactics for what others could stop Maradona, and it was precisely off one of his free kicks that the tying goal almost came when he rattled the outside of Italy’s left post. The ball had not gone in but close they were and all around me who supported Argentina could feel it yet one thing about Italy is that they were comfortable in defense, specially in the one that saw them hang on with everything they had. Several of my family members were telling me that I should support Argentina as they continued to cheer on yet for me it was Italy, win or loose.

Argentina a few minutes after Maradona’s near miss would have another when a header by Pasarella, almost surprised Zoff who barely managed to get his right hand on it just before the ball went in, sending it off the past. So close had they been that even the commentator was saying it would be just a matter of time before another goal came and so did it occur, though not the way those around me would have hoped as it was Italy who went up 2-0. This occurring when Rossi got the ball on a one on one situation with goalkeeper Fillol, who managed to save his shot which should have been buried. Italy however managed to follow up on the play when Conti took the ball from a Fillol rebound to pass back to an oncoming Cabrini who found the back of the net, giving Italy a 2-0 advantage at the 67 minute mark of the match.

Italy was up and Argentina was definitely down and perhaps out as time was running low, this being all that my second loud scream of goal reminded those present as my voice was heard all through out not only the house but neighborhood as well. Me probably being that only one who was longing for an Italian win. Anger and frustration were for those around me as they had gone done 2-0 but as I explained it was not my fault that the team I wanted to win was doing just that, this an argument that managed to calm down those who felt mine was betrayal to their cause.

Argentina would go on to get on the score sheet and pull to within one when Daniel Pasarella found the back of the net off a free kick at the 83 minute mark of the game, in an effort that in all truth came just a little to little a little to late. Argentina however did make it more interesting at the end as this goal did give them as well as my Argentine family a glimmer of hope which made me suffer slightly at the end even if Italy did manage to hold on to win their first match in a world cup since they beat Austria 1-0 back in the last world cup before going on a winless streak that would last five games.

The game however despite Argentina’s last minute efforts ended 2-1 with me celebrating though all telling me Brazil would undoubtedly beat us but this did not matter for me on that day as I had seen my team win. Brazil was for another day and time, for the time was at hand to celebrate.

Memories Of Italy Vs. Brazil 82

An article about one of Italy’s greatest victories in a world cup, made more so by how a draw would have eliminated them.

Italy vs. Brazil was what awaited us on that day in the summer of 82, as all those who supported Italy in my family gathered along with those who tended to support Argentina; with the intensions of backing “la squadra azurra”. It was not love for Italy but not wanting Brazil to get a fourth that made Argentines back “la nazionale” that day yet regardless of reason we were all united. This with the exception of one of us who had bet money on Brazil.

Brazil for its part had already proven to be a great team but perhaps had not had any overly difficult games; for in all truth this was going to be their strongest opponent up to that point in the tournament. Italy on the other hand needed to proof they could win the big ones. This more so since they had not won a world cup since before World War II and their disappointing performance in the 1980 European championship which they had even hosted. Emotions were tense as we waited the start of the game; knowing we were not favorites to win and pass on to the next round. Italy if anything was expected to loose yet we had a feeling we could win.

Bearzot I read in the press was expected to put a lot of pressure on Brazil’s midfield with tough marking which would not give them the time others had allowed them to pass the ball around. In reality what Italy was going to be using was a system which would later be called “pressing”. This being a system which as soon as an opposing player received the ball he would have someone on him to at least pressure him. This tactic lending itself to going on the counter; as it covered players all over the field instead of just waiting at the edge of one’s penalty box.

The game started and as I looked around the stadium from my TV I could see all the Italian flags; given the many “paesani” who had made their way to this most important city or at least on that particular day. It seeming like a sea of flags; almost as if the stadium were divided in to sections, half of which Brazilian and the other to cheer on our team.

In a way it was a strange coincidence; as what else could it be that Klein from Israel who would be the referee for this ever important match had also been called upon to be the referee the last time Italy played against Brazil. This last game being when they beat us 2-1 in Argentina 78 for third place. Of course this factor was not as significant to Italy as the fact that Zico had recovered from a slight injury, suffered in Brazil’s last game when he and Pasarella collided. Naturally it would be Gentile who would be marking this most gifted of Brazilian players as he had done with Maradona in Italy’s 2-1 victory against Argentina.

Italy needed the win and did it show as they pressed forward much like they had done in the early minutes of their 1978 encounter against Brazil. A chance would come our way when Rossi after getting a pass from Tardelli at the edge of the Brazilian penalty box failed to fully connect with the ball in front of 2 defenders yet it was clear we could create chances.

It however did not take long for our spirits to be lifted as we screamed Italy’s first goal after only five minutes. What great relief it was to see the ball go in to the net; giving us the lead and passage in to the semifinal even if only for the time being.

It all began at midfield when Conti managed to get by his marker and from the right side give a diagonal pass to Cabrini who in turn sent a cross to Rossi; entering almost unmarked to head home our first goal from close range. His shot going past goalkeeper Perez’s attempt to block it with his foot. We were up 1-0 but we had been up against Brazil before and lost; making this but a partial victory.

Brazil then took the ball out from midfield yet Zico in a strange play, took a shot at Zoff’s goal which he just picked up of the ground. Our first goal made us grow in confidence and unlike Scotland or the Soviet Union; we did not retreat on defense as they did after taking the early lead. A second chance came on a Rossi run in to the box which saw him heel it back to Graziani, who shot it wide but it was clear our game was working.

Serginho not much later on speed and a lucky bounce got by three defenders and in to the box, where Zico returned it giving Serginho a one on one chance in front of Zoff which he sent wide. Italy claiming offside on the play which did not really matter.

Brazil had come close yet 11 minutes in to the game they scored when Zico got a pass over Gentile to Socrates on the outside who entered and shot past Zoff. The equalizer entering between Zoff’s leg and the near post he was apparently not covering well enough. The score was tied at one a piece yet our moral did not decrease for this was a day we felt victory would be ours.

The goal however did bring Brazil back who increased their tempo of attack. It was during these runs forward that Zico tempted Gentile in to a foul at midfield from behind which earned him a yellow card. It meaning he would miss the semifinal should Italy be in it.

Rossi had scored and was he ever back to the form that saw his fame rise in Argentina 78. He was in the game as if he had not missed the previous two years with not only his speed but cleaver ability to read the opponents defense. This precisely what Rossi did at the 38 minute mark of the game when he intercepted a pass by Junior to Cerezo; catching their defenders of guard as he from the edge of the box put Italy ahead 2-1. Again we cheered as we had gone up and were on our way to the semifinal in what had become a seesaw battle where a tie score was like a Brazilian lead. How we rejoiced not only at the regained lead but that we could do more then just get a lead and defend it; for we were also capable of scoring goals right along with Brazil.

The half ended with Italy on top yet not before Zico had his shirt ripped by Gentile in an action that could have been a penalty had he not already been ruled off sides.

Italy was on top and were we ever living the joy of the world cup, specially with our team being up in the scoreboard and apparently on their way to being one of the top four teams in the competition. Drinks were had and snacks were munched on as we discussed our team’s strategy and how Rossi was back to full form. Some of us had doubted weather he should even be on our team yet he had shown himself worthy of the trust bestowed upon him by Bearzot.

The second half started with Brazil going forward as can be expected with the score as it was. Falcao coming close as his shot misses by very little. Italy however had not given up on attack and how we would have welcomed a third to pretty much clinch it, as Brazil for the most part was not a team known to comeback or at least not like Germany.

Conti managed a great run down the left flank. Raising our desires for a goal as he arrived at the edge of the box however his shot went wide; perhaps fatigue after having run 60 meters at top speed. Of course with the temperature being at 40 on the field such fatigue in a tense game is understandable.

Zoff had always been a great goalkeeper but it was at this stage of the game where he truly demonstrated his ability and experience; as he pulled off many an outstanding save. One in particular of importance when he stopped a shot be Cerezo; who had made an entry in to the box off a great pass from Zico. This would be followed by another in which he denies Serginho’s close range heel effort. Zoff was really outdoing himself that day and how he was proving many wrong that his time had past. Save after save increased our admiration for our veteran goalie.

It was a thrill without doubt as at the other end Rossi almost put an end to the game and probably should have when he got a Graziani pass to the right of the goal and unmarked; to have his shot go wide by but centimeters. So close had we been that the word goal was in our throats as the ball went wide.

Brazil then changes the ineffective Serginho in favor of Paolo Isidoro just before a near tragedy would occur. Falcao receives a ball at the edge of the box and two defenders are deceived in to covering the pass; forgetting the direct shot on goal he takes past Zoff and in to the back of the net, to give Brazil the equalizer at 2-2 with 68 minutes gone from the game.

If doubts were had by some it was at that moment yet in all I still felt this was our day. My grandmother even claiming that Italy would never be as great as it was before the war, given those days ended because the war killed so many.

Many felt that Brazil at that point made a mistake by not staying back on defense but in a logical way they did what was right for them by going forward. This being the case since they definitely had it within them to score a 3rd which would have left us with a duty to score 2 more and the fact that they did not have either a defense or goalkeeper which inspired too much confidence. Of course something else which might be considered is that Brazil never did feel good on defense. All justifying Brazil’s strategy to try to get another goal.

A mist Brazil’s attack a corner finally came for Italy, their first in the game. Conti taking it, the ball going to Antognoni, whose shot was deflected by none other then Rossi and in to the back of the net; for a third Italian goal. Making our screams louder then they had ever been as we took the lead at 3-2. The time of the goal was 78 minutes and we knew we were going to win after that goal even if it surely was not going to be easy to defend a 1 goal lead against greats like Zico, Falcao and Socrates.

Brazil would come at us with everything they had yet in a strange way Italy had two chances in the time that followed our third goal. First when Antognoni made run down the right side; ending in a near miss. Our second chance however should have ended the game when Rossi passed from the right of Brazil’s goal to Oriali who passed to an oncoming Antognoni; this player scoring from the left. We were cheering as we had done before; our minds read 4-2 yet the referee ruled offside. I however believe it was not the case though the replay was not as clear as most of us would want it to be.

Brazil was given back their life or at least for a few more minutes, almost as if somebody wanted it to end with a desperate charge. A Brazilian goal almost came and how close it was when Isidoro headed a ball which Zoff barely stopped on the line. It was ours yet it came so near to slipping away; almost like that header Zoff rescued on the goal line. It was a reaction as if we had scored when we saw it had not gone in.

The gamed ended a minute later with use knowing it would be us in the top four for the 3rd time in the last four world cups. Brazil had been the favorite so now that made us the one who should win and did we ever feel like winners.

Memories Of Italy Vs. Poland 82

An article about the semifinal Italy played against Poland in the World Cup “Spain 82”.

It was the summer of 82; Italy had just beaten a great Brazilian team by the score of 3-2 and how wonderful it felt for those of us who supported Italy. For we had finally triumphed over Brazil, which was specially gratifying after having been beaten by them 4-1 in the 1970 final and 2-1 in the previous world cup, for third place.

It was thanks to this victory that we not only got in to the semifinal but perhaps just as importantly took on the added sensation that we could beat anybody. Italy was in the semifinal and their opponent would be Poland, the team which they had already faced in that same world cup in their first match, ending in a 0-0 draw . Antognoni however coming so close to scoring when his shot hit the post. Italy in fact would be playing Poland for the third time in as many world cups; the first of these 3 games ending in a 2-1 victory for Poland. This a defeat which would prevent Italy from going past the first round in the 74 World Cup.

Poland however almost in complete contrast to Italy had qualified to the semifinal by holding the Soviet Union to a 0-0 draw; in what was undoubtedly one of the most boring matches I had ever seen. This not to offend any but when the most or perhaps only memorable thing about a game is a yellow card then it would be safe to say that it was not much of a spectacle. This being the case with Boniek, who thanks to a yellow card in that game would miss the semifinal against Italy, who would also be missing an important figure on their team in the form of Gentile. This also being due to a yellow card in the previous game. Looking back one could say it probably would have been Gentile, whose task would have been to mark Boniek through out the match as he had done with both Maradona and Zico in both of Italy’s two previous matches.

Regardless of how it came to be; Italy was going to be playing in their first semifinal since the one they had played against Germany in 1970. This also being the last time a semifinal encounter had been played in a world cup due to the system used in 74 and 78, in which teams went directly from the quarterfinals to the finals.

As for the game itself, this I had little if any doubts that Italy would win and as a result end up in the finals. After all we had a great team playing up to its full potential, with quality players in every position from Zoff in goal to Cabrini on defense to Tardelli in the midfield to Rossi and Conti on attack. Poland on the other hand would playing without Boniek; this man being not only their top goal scorer but probably their best and most creative player in the tournament up and till then.

I will never forget the mood in my house, my grandmother and all those who were Italian in my family stood behind the Azurri 100%. We definitely were in high spirits like those fans who knew they could not be denied what they had come to believe was rightfully theirs. It was with this spirit that the game started, Italy feeling the need to win, perhaps to prove to not only the world but themselves that they could win a world cup in the post war era. This the case since they had not been champions since 1938.

As for Poland, I got the feeling that they were satisfied with having reached the semifinal and were not really overly hopefully of getting to the final but were playing this game because it was what the tournament demanded of them. I; of course do not wish to say Poland did not want or could not win but it was in a way clear that to them what they had already achieved was in and of itself a triumph for their football team.

The game itself held little to make it one that went beyond average, as Italy won 2-0 with both goals being scored by Paolo Rossi. He continuing his scoring streak from the previous match which saw him get the first and only hat trick that has ever been scored against Brazil in a world cup. Rossi’s first goal coming at the 22 minute mark of the first half when he tapped a free kick taken by Antognoni past Polish goal keeper Milnarczyk and in to the back of the net to give us a 1-0 lead.

We were in the final and how great it felt but it was during half time that I reminded those around me that 4 years ago we were also up 1-0 against the Netherlands and on our way to the final, only to end up loosing by 2-1, making it that we should keep our concentration in the game or at least till it was over.

As for the second half, it started shortly after this remark of mine and it was at the 73 minute mark that Paolo Rossi, who was now back in full force after a two year ban from football, managed to score our second goal. Rossi heading home Bruno Conti’s perfectly timed cross; to give Italy a seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead. Cheers and screams were heard as Italy scored its second goal, all of us knowing there was no realistic way we were going to be denied our place in the final, specially after being ahead by 2 goals.

Needless to say Poland did have their scoring opportunities in this semifinal game, most notably two particular shots. One coming from Kupcewicz, who hit the post off a free kick and another from Majewski which called for our captain; Dino Zoff to make one of his greatest saves in the 82 world cup.

Italy however despite Poland’s efforts would go on to win 2-0 that day but all was not to celebrate as far as we; the fans of Italy were concerned. Antognoni after all had been injured and as a result of which would go on to miss the final though perhaps that was for another day, for on that occasion we would rejoice our return to the final. It coming after a 12 year absence.

Memories Of Italy Vs. Germany 82

An article about the first time I saw Italy play in a world cup final

Italy had beaten Argentina, Brazil and Poland in a most convincing fashion and had made it to the final. This being much to my delight as well as those in my Italian family. We had made it to the final of the world cup and were ever ridding the emotional crest of victory. As there was no way or so we felt we could loose in this final, even if it was going to be against a team like Germany which had also won two previous championships.

Italy after all had great players who had really gotten their act together at the right time yet if there were two players who exemplified our resolve; they were Paolo Rossi and Dino Zoff. The first of which having played brilliantly in 1978 only to be suspended in 1980 by the Italian football federation for 3 years for allegedly taking part in a bribery scandal. In all reality Paolo Rossi according to the punitive measures imposed on him should not have even been playing in that world cup yet he was given permission to do so in Spain 82. Paolo Rossi joining the team weeks prior to the world cup; making many in Italy doubt the wisdom of having a player who had not played professionally in over two years. Rossi however proved himself more then worthy of the place given him on “La Nazionale Di Calcio”; first by playing well against Argentina and then by scoring 3 against Brazil and 2 against Poland. All of which making him seem like the sort of player who was capable of anything.

Dino Zoff on the other hand was a veteran player whose 40 years of age was thought by many in Italy to make him too old even for a goalie. This opinion taking on more strength when he was blamed for the two goals by the Netherlands in the previous world cup which put us out of the final. Dino Zoff however much like Rossi had proven his value to “la nazionale” specially in our 3-2 victory over Brazil in which he turned out to be almost impregnable in goal.

Going in to this final however all was not good news, though Gentile would be back to mark either Littbarski or Rummenigge; Antognoni would be out due to an injury suffered against Poland. It was not that Italy did not have other quality midfielders but none so offensively creative as he; though Tardelli had become an important offensive element. Bearzot, our head coach opted to use 17 year old Bergomi, who was a defender to take the place of an attacking midfielder. This a move which many failed to understand at the time though his judgment was one most had come to rely on. Bergomi; all things considered had come off the bench against Brazil and had even taken Gentile’s place in the semifinal yet this was a different role which he was not used to. All of which creating changes in our team which were a gamble, specially in a final but if one thing was sure Bearzot was not a man who would be outwitted by anyone.

Germany is always who they are which makes them a team to fear, more so with players like Rummenigge, Kaltz, Breitner, Littbarski, Breigel and Fisher yet they perhaps had given too much of themselves in their team’s semifinal encounter against France. This being the first match to ever be decided by penalties as far as the world cup was concerned. Germany however was in the final yet to a large extent there were those who felt France had deserved to make it through given the way German goalkeeper had injured French defender, Battiston and not even had a foul called against his team. Germany had definitely been involved in a great game against France; ending 3-3 before being solved by penalties in their favor.

The atmosphere was incredible in my house as a true Italian flavor was about us as we prepared to watch Italy in the final. My grandmother telling everybody about the old days; going back to 1934 and 38 when Italy ruled football with greats like Meazza and Piola.

The game began with both teams going at it with desires to win; as one could expect this being a final. Germany perhaps more lively while keeping Rossi very well marked. A quick turn around shot by Rummenigge putting Zoff and my grandmother under some stress was Germany’s first chance.

Misfortune struck Italy in the early minutes as Graziani was forced to leave the game with an injury. Naturally Bearzot replaced a forward with another by the name of Altobelli yet we had used up a substitution very early in the game; much to the worry of many around me.

Rossi for Italy being marked like he was, was hard to find, all making our attack slow and our anxiety to wave our flags and scream “goal” even greater. A chance however did come when Conti was pulled down in the penalty box. Indeed a penalty it was and the Brazilian referee did not hesitate to call it as such. Regarding the referee; he was the first South American ever to be used in a final.

a penalty had been given our way and how we cheered what we figured had to be an Italian goal. Cabrini was going to take it; which we naturally counted on him converting given his hard shot which had already scored once against Argentina. Everybody waited with anxiety as Cabrini ran up to the ball. Myself waiting for the ball to go in yet Cabrini struck it wide of the post; thus becoming the first and so far only player to error a penalty kick in a world cup final. Disappointment was ours yet we felt we could still win. Schumacher raising his fist in slight triumph as he did after saving Six’s penalty was the vision which left us with some bitterness over this lost opportunity yet we were aware others would follow.

In all it was an uncle of mine who felt this missed chance might cost us the game; as they had France in the previous game. I in all kept calm as if knowing we would win, for fatigue would begin to show in Germany sooner or later from their last game.

The half ended at 0-0 which again was a first; given it was the first time no goals had been scored in the opening 45 minutes. Half time was spent arguing who had played better; with me claiming that despite the penalty Germany had been in better form, most of my family disagreed but we are were of a mind that we would win.

The second half started with Italy taking charge; almost as if they had planned it that way from the start, to save energy for the second half while Germany used up theirs in the first half. This strategy worked just as Bergomi got used to the position of midfielder with Oriali along side him having a great game.

Our waiting was rewarded at the 57 minute mark of the game when a free kick was taken quickly by Tardelli who passed to Gentile; this player sending a diagonal pass in the penalty box on to the head of Paolo Rossi who sent the ball past Schumacher and in to the back of the net. Rossi headed it perfectly in the small box and our screams came. We were finally up 1-0 and relief was ours as the title was ours for the time being, making Germany the one who again would have to come back. The game continued as did our joy of getting ever closer to the title. Perhaps it was wanting something and knowing it was coming that created this sense of togetherness.

Another goal would follow 69 minutes in to the game; this time Tardelli’s effort from the edge of the box made its way past several defenders and a Schumacher left standing motionless and in to the back of the net. We were up 2-0 and were we ever happy though ours was not over. Germany had bounced back to win after trailing by 2 goals on more then one occasion; going back to when they did it against Hungary in the 54 final to England in 70 to France in the previous game and this I knew well.

Tardelli scored and it was his scream after the goal which has been shown over and over on TV and youtube. It was his moment and ours felt in that scene even repeated on American TV to people who do not know who he is or what the play was about.

Italy got a third 81 minutes in to the game which came through Altobelli who managed to elude Schumacher and score from a Conti pass and at that moment we knew it was ours and in a strange way I pondered that it was the first final which the score at no point had been 2-1.

Our 3-0 lead however only lasted two minutes when Breitner scored for Germany with no enthusiasm on his part as his teammates just gave him a mere pat on the back. Breitner might have had a personal victory given it was his second goal in as many finals. We were still up by 2 with 7 minutes left; true they had come back from a 2 goal difference against France but this would be 3 and our defense was more solid so we did not worry, more so because time was also on our side. Italy for its part simply kept touching the ball around and in a habit that became tradition when a team is up and making time go by; the fans started yelling “ole” every time an Italian pass was successfully completed.

Finally the referee called the game by picking up the ball off field instead of only blowing the whistle to end the game. We were champs and great it felt as we celebrated it.

In conclusion I will say it was a grand victory for the team and our football which could win in the modern era. For 2 particular players this game meant probably more then the rest; they being Rossi who proved he could come back and Zoff who could end his career on a high.

As a footnote for Germany they became the first and so far only loosing team in a final to score the last goal of the game.

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