Italia- WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS 1934
WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS 1938
European Champions 1968
World Cup RunnerUp 1970
World Cup 4th Place 1978
WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS 1982
World Cup 3rd Place 1990
World Cup RunnerUp 1994
European Championships Runner-Up 2000
WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS 2006
Calcio is an enormous part of the Italian culture and it is no big surprise to see the Italians this high in the rankings at the No. 2 spot.
With four World Cup Titles, two runner ups, a third-place finish, and a European Championship, Italia has an impressive history, present, and future to say the least.
Italia is known for its classy play, natural skills, and great defensive style. The technical abilities and tremendous tactical execution of the Azzurri is can’t be competed with.
Italia won their first two World Cups in 1934 and 1938 behind legendary goal scorer Giuseppe Meazza.
Their third World Cup crown was won in 1982 when they defeated West Germany in the Final 3-1. And their fourth World Cup Championship came at the most recent World Cup in Germany 2006.
In World Cup 1994, Italia lost in the Final to Brazil, in the battle to become the first nation to win four World Cups.
This match was decided on penalties and Italian star Roberto Baggio will forever be remembered for his heartbreaking penalty miss just over the crossbar that clinched the Brazil win.
Despite the excruciating miss from Baggio he can hardly be blamed, as his goal scoring performances in USA 94 were legendary.
In World Cup 1998, Italia wasn’t given much of a chance at winning the Cup, as they passed number 10 on to the young Juventus star, Alessandro Del Piero.
They breezed through the first round and the round of 16 behind the great goal scoring of Vieri, but in the quarters they met the host nation and eventual Champions, France.
They played yet another tight 0-0 match but were eliminated on penalties, as Luigi Di Biagio sent a whole nation into agony when he rang one off the crossbar.
This was the third straight World Cup Italia was eliminated on penalties, and it was becoming a huge mental block for the whole nation.
In Euro 2000, Italia was ready to bounce back and put on a great display of will in the first round earning all nine possible points.
In the quarters they defeated Romania easily 2-0 behind another goal from the emerging superstar, Francesco Totti.
In the semis they played a tough Dutch team who pushed Italia to their limit and outplayed the Italians for the most part, but they still couldn’t get anything by the top of form Francesco Toldo.
In penalties, Italia broke their supposed jinx after Toldo kept three of the four penalties from conversion.
In the final Italia met the Champions of the World, France. Italia struck first, after a beautiful set up was finished off by Delvecchio.
They held this lead through 90 minutes and outplayed the French and were just waiting for the whistle, to set them off into celebration.
Yet it came a minute too late as a late push in the 4th minute of stoppage time saw the equalizer buried by the French.
But agony continued, as the French went on to bury the golden goal and send Italia home a runner up instead of with The European Championship, which was basically in their hands.
World Cup 2002 was one mauled with controversy for the Italians. The final result will read that the Italians were eliminated in shocking fashion to South Korea in extra time in the round of 16, but conspiracies arose as Italy was clearly done in by multiple inexcusably bad calls by the officials.
Italy had a handful of valid goals taken back throughout the tournament, but the most disastrous officiated match came against the hosts in what will be forever remembered as one of the biggest controversies in World Cup history.
But World Cup 2006 was where all this tragedy would be cured, as this was the year Italia, “The Azzurri” would win it all for the fourth time.
Italia wasn’t seen as a favorite at this tournament, as they had a lot of hopes on a recovering out of form Francesco Totti.
Italia worked hard to get past the first round by defeating Ghana and European disappointment Czech Republic. The team was gelling very nicely and had excellent chemistry and a deep bench, and began the start to an epic run for their fourth star.
In the round of 16 they drew a tough gritty side in Australia, coached by Hiddink the former coach of South Korea.
Australia worked them hard for the whole 90 minutes and they had to come together even more as a team, as they had to overcome an awful red card decision by the ref on Materazzi.
But Italia persevered behind the fighting Gennaro Gattuso who was an animal in the midfield. Then in stoppage time, Totti sent a long ball to Grosso who made two very nice moves to penetrate the defense and get inside the box where he cut back again beautifully in the box and was tripped up and rewarded a penalty.
Up stepped Totti, who buried the penalty to push Italia into the quarters where they would meet Ukraine. Italia came out firing in this match up with victory as their only option.
A great one two between Zambrotta and Totti led to a blast from Zambrotta from a distance to put Italia up and there they would stay for good after Luca Toni’s 2 headers iced it 3-0.
Then the semi finals match up with Germany, the host nation, clearly the best game of the tournament. This was a war.
Italia never had lost to Germany in The World Cup before and Germany had never lost in Dortmund, one trend had to end and after 118 minutes of scoreless soccer, Italia struck twice in extra time in glorious fashion, to push The Italians to the final vs. France.
In the Final, Italia were forced to once again overcome their penalties jinx and this time there was no stopping them as all five Italian shooters buried their penalties with authority to send Italia to their fourth World Cup Title.
Italia could easily be the No. 1 nation in the rankings if it wasn’t for the “Superga Air Disaster” back in 1949.
This tragic airplane crash killed off the bulk of the Italian National team and set Italia back a complete generation in International competition.
The Italian are set to defend their World Cup crown this summer in South Africa. They once again aren’t getting much consideration as contenders, but it is well known that The Azzurri can never be counted out.