Italy are one of world football’s most dominant sides: They are feared across the globe for both the talent within their squad and the storied history of the peninsula’s national team.
With four World Cup triumphs, only Brazil can claim to have lifted the game’s most prestigious trophy more times than the Azzurri, making their recent troubles even more startling.
Despite reaching the final of Euro 2012, their adventure this summer ended just as prematurely as their last World Cup appearance—crashing out in the group stage just as they did in South Africa four years ago.
By losing two matches—beating only England in their opening fixture—the current tournament ranks among the worst ever display by Italy on the global stage.
With back-to-back wins in 1934 and 1938, the nation quickly established themselves as front-runners, while incredible triumphs in 1982 and 2006 cemented that position. As such, the list of failures by the Azzurri is shorter than most, the contrast with these current failings starker than ever.
Over the following pages, Italy’s worst World Cup displays are ranked and judged in terms of how poor, how surprising and how unexpected each were.