Three Classic World Cup Games Between Italy and Brasil

Two of the most fancied sides in world football visit the Emirates on 10 February for an international friendly. They will also meet in the group phase of the FIFA Confederations Cup next June in South Africa.

Here are a few of their most famous encounters from World Cup history:

21 June 1970: Estadio Azteca in Mexico City: World Cup Final: Brasil 4 x Italy 1

After defeating West Germany in an extra time classic (4 x 3), Italy faced arguably one of the best national teams ever assembled. Carlos Alberto, Gerson, Jairzinho, Pele’, Tostao, and Rivelino were names known to every schoolboy around the world. Brasil scored first on a header by Pele’. Italy equalized after an errant back heel by Clodoaldo gifted the goal to Roberto Boninsegna. Then Brasil gave a second-half clinic with goals by Gerson, Jairzinho, and a classic strike by Carlos Alberto who was lead perfectly by Pele’. Becoming the first country to win the Jules Rimet Cup three times, Brasil retired the trophy.

Pele’s Commentary

“Rivelino crossed a high ball over the heads of the Italian defense, and I jumped higher than the defender, and headed the goal over the fingertips of Albertosi… Twenty-one minutes into the second half, with the defense bottling up Jairzinho and me, they allowed Gerson to come through the center from midfield and boot a powerful kick past a surprised Albertosi. From that point on there was no doubt what the final result would be. Five minutes later, Gerson took a free kick, passed it to me, I touched it to Jairzinho, who was momentarily unguarded, and he slid it into the net. Then, with only three minutes left in the game, I laid the ball off on my right as Carlos Alberto drove in at top speed; he kicked the ball on the dead run past Albertosi for the final goal.”

Source: My Life and the Beautiful Game by Pele’ and Robert Fish. Pages 278-279.


Carlos Alberto

Coach: Zagallo

Goals: Pele’ 18′, Gerson 66′, Jairzinho 71′, and Carlos Alberto 86′.


De Sisti

Coach: Valcareggi

Goal: Boninsega 37′.

Lineups courtesy of World-Cup

05 July 1982: Barcelona, Spain: World Cup Second Round Group Game: Italy 3 x Brasil 2

Argentina, Brasil, and Italy were drawn into the second round “Group of Death.” Brasil and Italy defeated Argentina, respectively; however, Brasil had the better goal difference. They only needed a draw to advance to the semi-final round. The atmosphere at the Sarria (also known as the “Candy Box”) was electric and full of anticipation. Both sides did not disappoint in one of the most memorable games of the modern World Cup. Many pundits did not give Italy a chance; however, Paolo Rossi, the formerly disgraced striker who had just returned from a two year betting scandal ban, had a game for the ages.

Rossi, who became known as “Pablito” for his Spanish exploits, scored early in the game on a header to give the Azzurri the lead. Shortly thereafter, Socrates (a medical doctor off the pitch) beat Dino Zoff to the near post with an excellent finish. Then, after a defensive lapse, Rossi struck again with a shot into the corner past Valdir Peres. Italy went into the half with the lead, 2 x 1.

In the second half, the Brazilians pressured for the equalizer which finally came by Roberto Falcao, who played his club side football for AS Roma. He took a ball at the top of the box, went to his left, and fired a shot past a sprawling Dino Zoff. Even though a draw would have eliminated the Italians, the Brazilians continued to press forward. Zoff made several key saves, and then in the 74th minute, Rossi shot an arrow through the heart of the Brazilian supporters. After a deflection by Marco Tardelli from a corner kick, Rossi flicked the ball past Valdir Peres, who in a very sporting gesture, retrieved the ball from the back of the net, smiled, and handed it to him.

Commentary by Tele Santana and Enzo Bearzot, the Respective Managers

“All the best Brazilians were in Spain, I have a clear conscience on that. We just made the mistake of trying to mark Rossi man-to-man.” — Santana

“He had been very good alongside Roberto Bettega at the 1978 World Cup, but Bettega wasn’t there anymore. Rossi was the only one left, and I can honestly say that if I’d had another alternative I wouldn’t have called him up. It was a huge risk gambling on him being able to get into the rhythm of such a demanding tournament and on his desire to make up for past mistakes. But I needed a goalscorer, someone to poach for goals in the box in a way that suited the style of play I wanted. I knew that if I didn’t take him, I wouldn’t have a player capable of causing trouble in the area, a crucial role in any team.

“The fact it took Rossi some time to explode into life during the tournament was partly due to our physical preparations, which prioritised fitness at the expense of speed. At the start, he was sluggish, but he kept getting better. In the area, he was extraordinary: very lively, always ready to pounce on the slightest mistake and never ceasing to put defenders under pressure. Ultimately, that translated into glory for himself and the team.” — Bearzot

Source: Paolo Rossi, I Was There.


Valdir Peres

Coach: Santana

Goals: Socrates 12′ and Falcao 68′.



Coach: Bearzot

Goals: Rossi 5′, 25, and 74′.

Lineups courtesy of World-Cup

17 July 1994: Rose Bowl, Pasedena, California: World Cup Final: Brasil 0 x Italy 0 AET (Brasil won the penalty kick shoot-out, 3 x 2).

In a very disappointing game played by two teams seemingly afraid to lose, Brasil won their fourth World Cup. Neither team created many chances, and Robert Baggio of Italy played the entire game with a visibly taped hamstring injury. But he would become the protagonist for another reason. He missed his first and last spot kick in an Azzurri shirt as Brasil won the only World Cup final ever decided on penalties, 3 x 2.

Commentary by Roberto Baggio

“As for the penalty, I don’t want to brag but I’ve only ever missed a couple of penalties in my career. And they were because the goalkeeper saved them not because I shot wide. That’s just so you understand that there is no easy explanation for what happened at Pasadena. When I went up to the spot I was pretty lucid, as much as one can be in that kind of situation. I knew Taffarel always dived so I decided to shoot for the middle, about halfway up, so he couldn’t get it with his feet. It was an intelligent decision because Taffarel did go to his left, and he would never have got to the shot I planned.

Unfortunately, and I don’t know how, the ball went up three metres and flew over the crossbar. As for taking the penalty in the first place, I was knackered, but I was the team’s penalty taker. I’ve never run away from my responsibilities. Only those who have the courage to take a penalty miss them. I failed that time. Period. And it affected me for years. It was the worst moment of my career. I still dream about it. If I could erase a moment from my career, it would be that one.

What is sometimes forgotten is that even if I had scored, Brazil could still have won with the last penalty because before me Baresi and Massaro had both missed. That’s part of the game. I missed the last penalty, thereby ‘cancelling out’ those by Baresi and Massaro. They had to chose one image from the finals and they chose my mistake.”

Source: The Guardian, “My Penalty Miss Cost Italy the World Cup?“, 19 May 2002.


Marcio Santos
Mauro Silva

Coach: Perreira

Penalty Kick Shoot-Out

Marcio Santos failed to convert.
Romario scored.
Branco scored.
Dunga scored.


Baggio, D.
Baggio, R.

Coach: Sacchi

Penalty Kick Shoot-Out

Baresi failed to convert.
Albertini scored.
Evani scored.
Massaro failed to convert.
R. Baggio failed to convert.

Lineups courtesy of World-Cup

Italy’s Schedule:

Here is the training and press conference schedule [source]:

Saturday, 7 February 2009
List of players released

Sunday, 8 February 2009
Team meets at the Hotel Melia in Milan

Monday, 9 February 2009
h. 10.30 Training at the “Giuseppe Meazza” stadium in Milan (open to the press)
h. 16.30 Charter flight from Milan Malpensa to London Luton
h. 19.00 l.t. (20.00 Italy) Training at the “Emirates” stadium in London (open to the press)

Tuesday, 10 February 2009
h. 19.45 l.t. (20.45 Italy) BRAZIL — ITALY — (referee Riley of the English Federation) Press conference at the end of the match and return to Italy.

For those of you in London with the opportunity to attend the game, please enjoy one of the classics of international football. For additional background, you may want to read “My Friend Who Played With Pele.”

Steve Amoia writes the World Football Commentaries blog. He has written for AC Cugini Scuola Calcio, Football Media, Keeper Skool, and Soccerlens.

In 2002, he developed the World Cup History Test for Brainbench, a global employment testing company.

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  1. Daniel Chung 2 February, 2009
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