Italy are one of the most successful football nations of all time, and previous winners of the World Cup on four occasions (1934, 1938, 1982 & 2006) and European Championships once, in 1968. They have reached the World Cup final twice more but lost both times to Brazil, firstly 4-1 in 1970 in what is widely regarded as one of the best international football matches of all-time, and again on penalties to their South American rivals in 1994, in what most would admit was one of the worst World Cup finals of all-time.
Italy are highly regarded because of their passion for the game, historical achievements and superstars including Roberto Baggio, Dino Zoff and Andrea Pirlo. More than anything, however, it is perhaps their heart that separates them from so many countries.
Italy won two of the first three World Cups in 1934 and 1938. They held onto that title for 16 years due to the second World War interrupting regular scheduling. Although it took them a long time to win their next World Cup, they would follow this period of success with a European Championships victory in 1968.
Attempting to follow up on that title with a World Cup in Mexico in 1970, they were foiled at the death, losing 4-1 to Brazil with Pele, Jairzinho and Carolos Alberto turning in what might be the best single performance in a major final.
Italy's revenge on Brazil would come in 1982, when a Paulo Rossi hat-trick helped 'The Azzuri' defeat their South American foes 3-2. Brazil became regarded as the best team never to win a World Cup that year, but Italy was ruthless.
The World Cup in 1990 saw Italy host the tournament for the second time. Surprise-choice striker Sebastian Schillaci won the Golden Boot and Italy lost to Argentina 4-3 on penalties. Four years later in 1994, Italy's return to World Cup action saw them defeated on penalties in the World Cup final, as Roberto Baggio, easily the best player of the tournament, ballooned his spot-kick high into the Los Angeles sky. Some reports suggest the ball is still rising.
Italy then reached the final of Euro 2000, only to be denied by a 'golden goal' from David Trezeguet. Embroiled in a betting scandal in the run-up to 2006 World Cup in Germany, few observers gave The Azzuri much of a chance, but an Alessandro Del Piero-inspired Italy triumphed.
They beat Germany 2-0 with two late goals in the semifinal, before Zinedine Zidane was sent off for headbutting Materazzi in the final. Italy won on penalties, sweet revenge for all those missed opportunities throughout the years.
Having qualified for Euro 2016 at a canter, they might be some people's pick to win it all. But in World Cup Brazil 2014 just two years ago, they could not escape a group containing Costa Rica, England and Uruguay.
Who Does Italy National Team Play Next
Check out the next game for The Azzuri and reference the game odds to see if it's a wager worth taking. Is it a friendly or competitve game and are the Italians playing at home?
Italy National Team Game Schedule
Italy's forthcoming friendlies and Euro 2016 games will add to their storied history. Can Pirlo, El Shaarawy and Graziano Pelle help them win their first European Championships since 1968?
Italy National Team Standings Today
Check out Italy's standings to measure how they're faring. Whether it's a major tournament or another qualifying campaign, we expect they'll be near the peak.
How To Make Money Betting On Italy National Team
Italy will not be many pundits' picks to win Euro 2016, but at odds of +1400, should they be considered a better prospect than group challengers Belgium? We think they should.
In Gianluigi Buffon, they have one of the best goalkeepers of all-time. In Giorgio Chiellini, they have a defensive general who will have his back-line ruthlessly organized.
And although the Pirlo-inspired midfield may lack the dynamism of previous Italian teams, they have unheralded pace in abundance up front. Ciro Immobile, Graziano Pelle and Stephan El Shaarawy will cause teams a lot of problems, and if the defense can hold firm, we think the Italian team of 2016 can go further than most think.
Backing Italy to win a tight group doesn't look great value even at +160, but once they progress, which we expect they will, get on the Azurri bandwagon.
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