Classic Azzurri Match: Brazil 2-3 Italy (1982)

A total of 44,000 people were crammed into the Sarria Stadium in Barcelona on the 5th July 1982. They didn’t know yet but they were to witness a true World Cup classic.
Brazil went into this second round tie hot favourites only needing a point to qualify for the next round, having won all four previous games and playing some scintillating football. Italy on the other hand had a very slow start to the tournament going into this second round group stage match. They had only just scraped through the first round group stages yet somehow managed to beat Maradona’s Argentina 2-1.

It was going to be a game of Brazils attacking talent versus Italy’s solid defence, Gentile v Zico, Cabrini v Serginho or Scirea v Sócrates.

It was the Italians who flew out the traps and shocked Brazil in the first five minutes as Antonio Cabrini came forward from his left back position. He sent in a dangerous cross to the back post and Paolo Rossi met it with a thumping header sparking wild Italian celebrations.

Brazil didn’t let the early set back get to them as they settled and started dominating possession. Sócrates was starting to pull the strings in the middle if the pitch as he set up Serginho, who somehow managed to miss the target completely with only Dino Zoff to beat.

You felt it was only a matter of time before Brazil got their goal and on 12 minutes, it was that man Sócrates who was at the heart of it again as he started the move first passing the ball into Zico, who beat the Italian defence with an unbelievable piece of skill. He set up Sócrates who continued his run to fire home past the helpless Zoff.

Italy were creating little, whilst Brazil were passing for the ball around fun. They got a little too far forward and on 25 minutes Rossi pounced on a loose pass beating Júnior to the ball and hammering it past Waldir Peres. Italy were back in front and Rossi was looking in devastating form.

From kick off Brazil were back on top and their inspirational captain was unlucky not to have put his team on level terms, his bullet of a header was straight at Dino Zoff in the Italian goal. Half time and it was 2-1.

Dino Zoff had to be on his toes at the start if the second half, he flew off his line like an Olympic sprinter to deny and early chance. Zoff was at it again soon after, this time denying Serginho. The veteran keeper’ was rolling back the years to keep his team in it.

Rossi should have got his hat trick and put the game to bed. When Francesco Graziani picked him out all he had to do was score put the Juventus man somehow managed to fire wide from close range. Credit had to go to the on rushing Peres who did enough to put Rossi off.

Italy’s defence were in fine form and with the great Dino Zoff they kept Brazil at bay in the second half. However, on 68 minutes he would be beaten, as Falcão found himself in acres of space on the 18 yard line. With no one closing him down he had all the time in the world to pick his spot and get Brazil back in the game, 2-2.

This game was far from over though as Italy just wouldn’t go away, they kept coming back at the Brazilians. They knew that with the form Paolo Rossi was in they only needed one chance. On 74 minutes an Italy corner came in, it was played deep to the edge of the 18 yard box, Giuseppe Bergomi rose to head down for Marco Tardelli to hit one as the ball flew towards the goal, that man Paolo Rossi was there to turn it home at get his hat trick. This sent the Italian fans wild they believed now.

As Brazil pushed forward for that crucial goal to give them their precious point they needed, Italy caught them out on the counter again as Antognoni played in Rossi who squared it back to Antognoni to finish. As he ran off to his supporters the ecstasy was put on hold as the lines man stood with his flag raised, he was off side.

Brazil pressed again and once more the brilliance of Dino Zoff kept Italy on front as he kept out Oscars thumping header at the back post just managing to keep it this right side of the goal line. This would be the last chance of the game as Abraham Klein blew his whistle. Enzo Bearzot and his Italian team celebrated like they just won the World Cup and of course they would go on to do just that, beating West Germany 3-1 in the final.

By Giovanni Dougall: @giovannid86