Italy World Cup Rewind: The Third Star—1982 vs. West Germany

Sam LoprestiFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2014

Italy's players celebrate their triumph at the 1982 World Cup.  Captain Dino Zoff (second from right) holds the trophy.
Italy's players celebrate their triumph at the 1982 World Cup. Captain Dino Zoff (second from right) holds the trophy.Steve Powell/Getty Images

Welcome again to Bleacher Report's series of Italy World Cup Rewinds.  Over the last few months we've been taking a look back at some of the best—and worst—moments in the history of the Azzurri at the World Cup.  Two weeks ago we relived the second-round match between Italy and Brazil that sent Italy on to the 1982 semifinals.  Today we move forward one week to one of the most glorious moments in the team's history: the victory over West Germany that gave the Azzurri their long-awaited third world title.


The Tournament

The 1982 tournament in Spain was similar in format to the previous two but had a slight tweak.  Like the '74 and '78 showpieces, the '82 World Cup saw the use of a second group phase.  Unlike those tournaments, however, there were four three-team groups rather than two four-team groups, and the winners of those four groups advanced to a semifinal round.  

Since the last two Cups had seen the winners of the second two groups progress directly to the final and the runners-up directly to the third-place game, this proved to be the first World Cup to have a semifinal in 12 years.


The Run-Up

Italy's exploits in the early phases of the tournament were discussed in our last installment, so we won't repeat them here.

Dino Zoff captained Italy at the age of 40.
Dino Zoff captained Italy at the age of 40.Getty Images/Getty Images

After their famous victory against Brazil, the Azzurri were drawn into a rematch with Poland, who had been in their opening group and edged them out for first place.  The two teams had played to a 0-0 draw in the first round.  

Paolo Rossi had been lifeless in that first match, but this time he continued to mine the rich vein of form he had discovered against Brazil.  He scored in the 22nd minute and again in the 78th to seal an easy 2-0 victory and send the Italians to the final for the second time in four tournaments.

West Germany had been the source of extreme controversy in the opening round.  Knowing that a 1-0 German win would see both Germany and Austria advance to the second round, the Germans attacked all out until Horst Hrubesch scored in the 10th minute.  The remaining 80 saw the two neighbors merely kick the ball around with no intention of scoring further.

Fans in Gijon were in an uproar.  Even fans of the participating teams were incensed.  One German fan went so far as to burn his own German flag.  

Algeria, who finished level on points with the advancing teams but were eliminated on goal difference, protested to FIFA.  With no rules to cover such collusion, FIFA ruled that the result would stand.  The practice of playing the final round of group games simultaneously began in 1986 and stemmed directly from this event.

Through to the second round, Germany played England to a goalless draw before beating Spain 2-1 in their final game of the second group.  When England failed to beat Spain in the final group match the Germans made it to the semifinals.

Patrick Battiston is stretchered off the field during West Germany's semifinal match with France.  German keeper Schumacher was not punished for the incident.
Patrick Battiston is stretchered off the field during West Germany's semifinal match with France. German keeper Schumacher was not punished for the incident.Steve Powell/Getty Images

The semifinal against a Michael Platini-led France side saw more controversy follow West Germany.  In the second half with the match at 1-1, Platini sent defender Patrick Battiston through with a long ball, putting him one-on-one with German keeper Harald Schumacher.  Battiston flicked the ball toward goal with his foot.  Schumacher's attempt to block was late.  He missed the ball completely and slammed his hip straight into Battiston's head while the ball trickled past the post.

Battiston was knocked unconscious, broke his jaw and lost two teeth.  Incredibly, Dutch referee Charles Corver ruled that no foul had been committed and awarded a goal kick. The incident instantly became famous, both for the viciousness of the hit and for Schumacher's indifference towards his actions.

The game went to extra time in a 1-1 tie, and the French stormed out to a two-goal lead in the first eight minutes of the extra session.  The Germans would not give up and tied the game with two goals on either side of the half-time break.  After 120 minutes, the game was decided by penalties.  It took an extra round of kicks before Hrubesch sent Germany to a date with the Italians in the final.


The Game

The date was July 11.  Italy walked onto the field at the Bernabeu in Madrid in their traditional blue shirts with white shorts.  Germany wore their traditional white shirts with black shorts.  The referee was Brazil's Arnaldo Cezar Coelho.

The game started brightly for the favored Germans.  Pierre Littbarski took a feed from the left wing and sent a weak shot from just to the left of the penalty arc that was no trouble at all for 40-year-old Dino Zoff.

Bruno Conti closes down Germany's Hansi Mueller.
Bruno Conti closes down Germany's Hansi Mueller.Steve Powell/Getty Images

Not long after, Paul Breitner's cross from the left was flicked on by Klaus Fischer to Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.  The German talisman had been injured but declared himself fit to play.  He turned Giuseppe Bergomi easily in the box but sent his shot well wide.

The Italians had been forced to use one of their substitutions early when Francesco Graziani was forced off through injury.  Alessandro Altobelli, his replacement, made an immediate impact when his ball into the box forced Hans-Peter Briegel to bring down Bruno Conti.  Referee Coelho became the second man in World Cup history to point for a penalty in the final.

Antonio Cabrini stepped up to take the kick but became the first man in history to miss a penalty kick in the World Cup final when he sent his shot low and wide-right.

The Germans wasted no time in going back up the field.  Soon after the miss Breitner sent a free kick into the box and saw Fischer's diving header fly over the bar.  A corner shortly thereafter saw a shot from Bernd Forster fly over Zoff's frame.

Italy were still getting in their shots.  In the 41st minute, a blocked shot from Gabriele Oriali fell to Conti, who blasted high over the bar.  He tested Schumacher from a 24-yard free kick minutes later but put the ball right in the keeper's gut.

The half ended goalless.  The Italians would have their say in the second.

Paolo Rossi scored Italy's first goal.
Paolo Rossi scored Italy's first goal.Tony Duffy/Getty Images

The match's first goal came 12 minutes after the restart.  After Oriali was fouled in German territory, Marco Tardelli spotted Claudio Gentile sprinting up the right wing and took the free kick quickly, while the Germans—and some of his own teammates—were still milling around in the aftermath of the foul.  

With the Germans out of position, Gentile sent a cross towards the six-yard box.  It took one bounce and found the head of Paolo Rossi, who put it off the ground and into Schumacher's net.

Germany tried to get themselves on the scoresheet immediately.  Manfred Kaltz's long free kick found substitute Hrubesch's head, but the shot was tame and Zoff claimed it at his feet with ease.  

Briegel then danced down the left wing and put in a cross that Zoff missed.  The ball glanced off Fulvio Collovati's foot and was attacked by both Fischer and Rummenigge, but the old Italian captain managed to recover and claim the ball before the Germans could equalize.

Paolo Rossi had scored Italy's last six goals, but in the 69th minute a teammate finally got in on the action.  A German giveaway in their own half saw the Italians presented with a three-on-three counterattack.  The move almost looked like it had been bogged down before Gaetano Scirea picked out his Juventus teammate Marco Tardelli on the edge of the area.  

Tardelli took one touch and then fired across Schumacher for Italy's second.  Tardelli's primal scream in celebration quickly became one of the most unforgettable moments in the history of the sport.

Desperate to get themselves back into the game, Briegel went down in the box in the 81st minute and looked up expecting a penalty, but he was never about to get one.  

The Italians immediately cleared via a through ball to Conti, who bombed unopposed down the right flank.  He centered the ball to Altobelli, who dribbled once to clear Schumacher and finished easily from the penalty spot.  The Inter man calmly raised his arms in triumph before getting buried by his teammates.  

Conti dropped to his knees near the spot he made the pass.  For all intents and purposes, the game was over.

Dino Zoff (in gray) and Claudio Gentile celebrate with the World Cup trophy.
Dino Zoff (in gray) and Claudio Gentile celebrate with the World Cup trophy.Steve Powell/Getty Images

Two minutes later, the Germans picked up a consolation when Hansi Muller's free kick rebounded to Breitner, who volleyed the ball home.  It was, however, far too little and far too late, and Breitner barely even shook hands with his teammates as he trudged back up the field for the restart.  He did, however, distinguish himself by scoring in two separate World Cup finals.

Altobelli nearly got himself a second when Zoff found him with a long punt, but Forster's sliding challenge gained the ball and denied him the chance to shoot.

As the last German attack petered out, referee Coelho grabbed hold of the ball and held it up as he blew the whistle for full-time.  Forty-four years after Vittorio Pozzo had led the Azzurri to back-to-back world titles, Italy were World Champions for the third time.


The Aftermath

Winning their third title tied the Italians with Brazil for the most in the world up to that point.  At age 40, Italy captain Dino Zoff became the oldest player ever to win a World Cup.

The Azzurri went to Mexico in 1986 to defend their title.  They were eliminated in the round of 16 by France, then went on to at least the semifinals in the two subsequent tournaments.

Manager Enzo Bearzot kept hold of the reins through that 1986 campaign before being replaced by Azeglio Vicini.

Germany would advance to the final for the second consecutive tournament in 1986, losing 3-2 to Diego Maradona's Argentina.


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