On Sunday, England meet Italy in the Quarter-Finals of the European Championships. Here we look at Italy’s Euro record down the years.
Italy has had a difficult relationship with the European Championships. They have been far more successful in World Cups. They have appeared in just 1 in 3 of the tournaments down the years. Having said that, this is the 8th tournament they have competed in and have not got past the group stage on just two occasions.
1960 like England, they didn’t bother to take part thinking it was going to be a fad.
1964 they didn’t get through the qualifying stage.
1968 they got through their qualifying group which included Romania, Switzerland and Cyprus. Then they beat Bulgaria in the Quarter-Finals to reach the final stage. Italy was then chosen as the host for the final stage which included USSR, England and Yugoslavia. Italy were up against USSR and after a goalless draw the winner was decided by…………the toss of a coin. They were then up against Yugoslavia in the final. Dzajic put the Yugoslavs in front in Rome, but then Domenghini equalised with 10 minutes to go. Instead of extra time, a replay was to decide the outcome two days later. This time, Italy were comfortable winners thanks to goals from Riva and Anastasi in the first half.
1972 won their qualifying group but lost to Belgium in a 2-legged Quarter-Final.
1976 finished behind Netherlands in the qualifying group.
1980 reached the final stages, which had now been extended to 8 teams. They finished 2nd in a group won by Belgium, and included England and Spain. With no Semi-Finals, second place meant they had a play-off for Third Place which they played against Czechoslovakia. The match ended 1-1 and a penalty shootout decided the winner. In one of the more amazing shootouts, the Czechs won 9-8, to leave Italy finishing 4th.
1984 Italy went into the qualifying round as World Champions. This was one of their worst ever qualifying campaigns. They were drawn in a group with Romania, Sweden, Czechoslovakia and Cyprus but only managed to win 1 game and lost 4.
1988 they returned to the qualifying stages to win their group this time winning 6 of their 8 matches. In the final stages they were drawn in with hosts, West Germany, Spain and Denmark. They drew their first match with Roberto Mancini scoring. Gianluca Vialli scored the goal that beat Spain before they beat Denmark, 2-0. They then met USSR in the Semi-Finals, in Stuttgart and lost 0-2.
1992 then finished 2nd in the group to USSR, and as there were still only group winners who qualified, they again sat out the final stages. They had drawn too many matches.
1996 fortunately the finals had been extended to 16 teams as Italy again finished 2nd in their qualifying group, behind first-time qualifiers, Croatia. They were up against Germany, Czech Republic and Russia in the final stages in England. 2 Casiraghi goals beat Russia, but then they lost to Czech Republic. In their last match they failed to beat 10-man Germany as Zola missed a penalty and they didn’t progress to the knock-out stages
2000 Italy won their qualifying group, although only by 1pt from Denmark and Switzerland. Again, drawn matches threatened to undermine their challenge. In the finals they were in a group with Turkey, Belgium and Sweden. They beat Turkey, 2-1 in Arnhem and then were up against co-hosts, Belgium in Brussels. Totti and Fiore scored in each half and they won easily. A late goal from Del Piero gave them a third win when they beat Sweden, 2-1 in Eindhoven. Winning the group saw them back in Brussels to meet Romania. First half goals from Totti and Inzaghi gave them a place in the Semis. Having beaten one of the co-hosts, Belgium, in the group stage, they were then up against the other co-host, Netherlands. No goals after extra time and so penalties would decide the match. Italy won the shootout, 3-1, to go through to meet World Champions France in the Final.
Italy lead the Final when Marco Delvecchio put them ahead 10 minutes into the second half. They looked as if they were going to lift their 2nd European Championship title until Sylvain Wiltord scored a dramatic equaliser, 4 minutes into stoppage time. In extra time, David Trezeguet broke Italian hearts and France had won.
2004 they had little trouble in this qualifying campaign. Wales, Serbia, Finland and Azerbaijan were all left trailing as the Italians finished 4pts clear. In the finals they were drawn against Sweden, Denmark and Bulgaria. They met Denmark first in Guimaraes and played out a tight 0-0 draw. They then met Sweden in Porto and Antonio Cassano gave them the lead at half-time. 5 minutes from time and Ibrahimovic equalised for Sweden to grab a point. Back to Guimaraes and they went a goal down against Bulgaria when Martin Petrov scored from the spot. Simone Perrotta equalised just after the break and then deep into injury time, Cassano scored a late winner. This meant they ended up on the same point as Denmark and Sweden, but on UEFA’s complicated countback system, the Italians were eliminated.
2008 with the increased number of countries taking part in qualifiers, Italy were drawn in a group of 8 teams. France would pose the biggest threat, although Scotland pushed hard. The only points Italy dropped was against the French, but they still managed to win the group by 3pts. Italy would meet the French again in the group stage of the finals. They were also up against Netherlands and Romania. In Bern, Italy were up against Netherlands and this was one of their worst results in the final stages of a Euro. Van Nistelrooy, Sneijder and van Bronckhorst scored the goals that beat Italy, 0-3. In Zurich they went behind to an Adrian Mutu goal. But Christian Panucci equalised almost straight away, but a 1-1 may not be enough. Their final group game was their best performance when they beat France 2-0, and qualified for the Quarter-Finals.
Second place in the group meant meeting Spain in the Quarter-Finals. A goalless game meant another dreaded penalty shootout. Italy missed two of their kicks and Spain won 4-2.
2012 qualifying was an easy experience for Italy. They drew 2 games and won the rest, conceding just 2 goals. Although one of the games was won by default after Serbian fans rioted and UEFA gave Italy the game. So far in the finals they have drawn against Spain and Croatia and then beaten Republic of Ireland
England fans will be hoping this is the end of their ride.