Friday, October 31, 2014

Italy Greatest All-time 23 member team

1934 World Cup Winner

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

What if Italy qualified for Euro 1992

Italy's football history is marked by notable achievements and periods of success. The Azzurri's triumphs date back to the 1930s when they secured consecutive World Cup victories in 1934 and 1938. However, following the Second World War until 1968, Italy struggled to replicate the success of their pre-war era, though AC Milan and Inter Milan excelled in club competitions, clinching four European Cups in the 1960s.

The turning point came in 1968 when Italy emerged victorious in the European Championship and subsequently reached the final of the 1970 World Cup. This remarkable period saw the rise of exceptional players such as Giacinto Facchetti, Sandro Mazzola, Gianni Rivera, Luigi Riva, and Roberto Boninsegna, who formed the backbone of the Italian national team.

Italy's success continued to flourish after that, with the team consistently producing impressive squads. In 1982, thanks to the goal-scoring prowess of Paulo Rossi, Italy secured their first World Cup title since 1938. The 1990s witnessed the presence of skilled players like Roberto Baggio, who shined as the trequartista, and defensive stalwarts Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi. The Azzurri reached the semifinals of the 1990 World Cup and followed it up by reaching the final in 1994.

In 2006, amidst a domestic investigation into Italian clubs, the Azzurri rallied and triumphed in the World Cup held in Germany. This victory showcased their resilience and determination, solidifying Italy's reputation as a force to be reckoned with in international football.

Overall, Italy's football history is characterized by periods of dominance, intermittent setbacks, and remarkable comebacks, with numerous talented players contributing to their success on the world stage.

This is my all-time team for ItalyIf there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament. 
World Cup 2006
GK: Gianluigi Buffon
Gianluigi Buffon is considered to be one of the greatest keeper ever.  He made his Serie A debut at the age of 17 in 1995 with Parma.  He earned his first cap when he was only 19.  He had a total of 175 caps. His biggest achievement must be winning the World Cup in 2006.  He has been named the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year a record eight time. He became the most expensive goalkeeper of all time following his transfer from Parma to Juventus in 2001.  He moved to PSG in 2019.

GK: Dino Zoff
Dino Zoff captained the World Cup winning side in 1982 at the age of 40.  He held the Serie A appearance record until 2006. He was also a part of the team that won the Euro 1968. He achieved great club success with Juventus, winning 6 Serie A titles, 2 Coppa Italias, and an UEFA Cup, also reaching two European Champions' Cup finals in 1972-73 and 1982-83 seasons. He also played for Udinese, Mantova and Napoli.
Dino Zoff in 1982
GK: Giampiero Combi
Combi won the 1934 World Cup with Italy.  He was considered one of the best in the world during his time.  He spent his entire career with Juventus.  He played 351 games in Serie A, winning five titles – in 1926 (having conceded only 18 goals during the season), 1931, 1932, 1933 and 1934 as part of the first golden age of the club with a record of five championship victories in a row, a feat known as Il Quinquennio d'Oro (The Golden Quinquennium).

CB/RB: Claudio Gentile
Gentile was considered one of the Azzurri's greatest defender.  He went to both 1978 and 1982 World Cup Finals.  He was best remembered for stopping Diego Maradona and Zico at the World Cup Finals in 1982 as Italy won their third World Cup.  His playing style was very hard. He was capped 71 times between 1975 and 1984.  Gentile played over a decade with Juventus. He also played for Fiorentina and other clubs.
Claudio Gentile vs Zico
CB/RB:  Giuseppe Bergomi
Bergomi was one of Inter Milan's greatest defender, winning one scudetto and three UEFA Cups with them.  He played his entire career with Inter Milan.  He held the record of most appearance in the UEFA Cup. Bergomi won the World Cup in 1982 and appeared in the 1986 and 1990 WC Finals. He was capped 81 times between 1982 and 1998.

CB: Fabio Cannavaro
Fabio Cannavaro was capped 138 times between 1997 and 2010. He was the captain and perhaps, the best Italian player of the 2006 World Cup winning team.  He was named the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year, and won the Ballon d'Or award in 2006 which made him the third defender to win the award. He started his career with Napoli and had spells with Parma, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid.
Fabio Cannavaro
SW: Gaetano Scirea
Scirea was the starting libero for Italy's World Cup winning team in Spain 1982 and Juventus throughout the 1980's.  He is considered one of the greatest defenders ever played the game.  He is one of only five players in history to have won all international trophies for football clubs recognized by UEFA and FIFA. He started with Atalanta before moving to Juventus in 1974, where he made his name. He also played in 1978 and 1986 World Cup Finals as well as the European Championship of 1980.

SW:  Franco Baresi
Baresi was considered Italy's greatest libero.  He was capped 82 times.  He led the Azzurri to the semifinal of the World Cup in 1990 and then, the Final in 1994.  However, he missed most of the tournament in 1994.  He was a part of the 1982 World Cup winning team, but he did not play a single match.  He was the captain of AC Milan for 15 years, where he won three European Cups and 6 Serie A titles.  This team was considered one of the greatest club side of all-time.
Franco Baresi
CB/SW: Alessandro Nesta
Nesta is considered one of the best defender of his generation.  He was the Serie A defender of the Year for 4 times. He started his career with Lazio.  Later, he played with AC Milan where he won two Champions' league.  He also played in MLS.  He earned 78 caps.   He played on the 2006 WC winning team, but injured in the third game of the tournament.  He also went to 1998 and 2002 World Cup Finals as well as the European Championship in 1996, 2000 and 2004.

LB: Giacinto Facchetti
Until the emerge of Paolo Maldini, Giacinto Facchetti was considered to be Italy's greatest left back. He spent his entire career with Inter Milan from 1960 to 1978.  He was the star wingback of La Grande Inter where they won back-to-back European Cups in the 1960's.  He was capped 94 times and also won the Euro 1968 with Italy. He played in 1966, 1970 and 1974 World Cup Finals.

LB: Paolo Maldini
Maldini was considered the greatest leftback of all-time.  He won 26 trophies in his 25 year career with AC Milan, including 5 Champions' league trophies. With the Azzurri, Maldini took part in three European Championships, and four World Cups. He reached the finals of the 1994 World Cup in the US and Euro 2000, and the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup in Italy and Euro 1988 in West Germany, and was elected into the all-star teams for each of these tournaments, in addition to the Euro 96 all-star team.  He was capped 126 times for Italy. 
Paolo Maldini
DM/CM: Marco Tardelli
He played at the 1978 World Cup Finals in Argentina and the 1980 European Football Championship at home.  He was the unsung hero of Italy's 1982 WC winning team.  He was capped 81 times.  He also won all the three major European competitions with Juventus. He also played for Pisa, Como, Inter Milan and St.Gallen of Switzerland.

DM:  Romeo Benetti
At international level, he represented the Italy national football team on 55 occasions between 1971 and 1980, and took part at the 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cups, as well as UEFA Euro 1980, achieving fourth-place finishes in the latter two tournaments. He is best remembered for his 5 seasons with AC Milan, winning a Cup Winners' Cup.

CM:  Andrea Pirlo
Pirlo started as an attack midfielder with Inter Milan without success before becoming a regista.  He redefined the regista role in the modern game.  He had 116 caps.  He won the World Cup in 2006 and took Italy to the Final of Euro 2012.  For his club career, he was known for his career with AC Milan.  He played over 280 matches for them, winning two Champions' League titles.  He switched to Juventus late in his career. 
Andrea Pirlo
CM/AM:  Giancarlo Antognoni
He was Fiorentina's greatest ever player .  He was a key player for Italy's WC winning team in 1982, but he missed the Final because of an injury.  He was capped 73 times for the Azzurri.  His career started in the Italian Serie D with the club of Asti Ma.Co.Bi., when he was only sixteen. In 1972, he joined Fiorentina. Because of his loyalty with his club, he never won anything at the club level.  He holds the record for the most appearances in Serie A for Fiorentina, with 341 appearances.

CM/AM: Gianni Rivera
Gianni Rivera was Italy's "Golden Boy"of the 1960's and perhaps their best player in his generation.  He won the Ballon d'Or in 1969.  He led AC Milan to win two European Cups in 1963 and 1969. He was capped 63 times, scoring 15 goals, at four World Cup Finals (1962, 1966, 1970, and 1974). Rivera is remembered for scoring the decisive goal in Italy's extra-time win over West Germany in the semi-final of Mexico 1970.

Gianni Rivera

CM/AM: Sandro Mazzola
He was a part of Inter Milan's "La Grande Inter".  He won four Serie A titles (1963, 1965, 1966 and 1971), two European Cups (1964 and 1965) and two Intercontinental Cups (1964 and 1965).  He won the Euro 1968 with the Azzurri and led them to the WC Finals in 1970.  During his career, he was known for sharing the starting position with AC Milan's Gianni Rivera on the national team. His father was Valentino Mazzola who died when Sandro was 7 years old.

AM: Valentino Mazzola
He was the best player in the world during the 1940's.  He was the captain and symbol of the "Grande Torino", the team recognised as one of the strongest in the world during the second half of the 1940s, with whom Mazzola won five Serie A championships.  His career, however, was limited by the War.  He never played in the World Cup.  His life was cut short by the Superga Air Disaster in 1949.  He was Sandro's father.

RW/LW: Bruno Conti 
Conti was the greatest winger in Italy's history.  He had 47 caps. He won the World Cup in 1982 and also took part at the 1986 World Cup Finals in Mexico.  Except with two loan spells with Genoa, he played his entire career with AS Roma. The season after the World Cup Finals in 1982, he helped Roma to win the league title.  He also led them to the 1984 European Cup Final but were defeated on penalties by Liverpool.

AM/FW: Roberto Baggio
Robert Baggio was the icon of the 1990's.  He was the World Player of the Year, the Ballon d'Or winner and the World Soccer Player of the Year in 1993.  He led Italy to reach the semifinal at 1990 World Cup Finals in Italy and then, to a second place four years later in the USA.  For club football, he started his career with Fiorentina.  He became the most expensive player in the world when he joined Juventus.  He also played for AC Milan, Bologna, Inter Milan and Brescia.
Roberto Baggio
FW: Giuseppe Meazza
Meazza is one of Italy's greatest players. He had 53 caps, scorimg 33 times. He led Italy winning two World Cups in 1934 and 1938.  He was probably the best player in the 1930's.  He was the best player at the 1934 World Cup Finals. He played mainly for Inter Milan in the 1930s, scoring 242 goals in 365 games for the club. He also played for AC Milan, Juventus, Varese, and Atalanta.

ST: Luigi Riva
Luigi Riva was the all-time leading scorer for the Italy.  At international level, Riva won the 1968  European Championship and was runner-up at the 1970 World Cup with the Italian national team; he also took part at the 1974 World Cup. With 35 goals in 42 appearances (in all official competitions) between 1965 and 1974. He was Serie A top scorer for three seasons. He was probably the best ever player at Cagliari, leading them to win their only scudetti in 1970.

ST:  Silvio Piola
Silvio Piola is one of Italy's greatest footballers.  He is the the all-time leading scorer in the Italian league.  He was third all-time leading scorer for the Azzurri even through his career was cut short by the World War II.  Piola won the 1938 World Cup with Italy, scoring two goals in the final, ending the tournament as the second best player and the second highest scorer. In 2011, he was posthumously inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame.

ST: Paolo Rossi
Rossi was the hero of Italy's WC winning team in 1982, notably for scoring a hattrick against Brazil in Spain, and went on to win the Golden boot. He was also the European player of the Year in 1982 because of his performance at the WC Finals. His club career was associated with Juventus.  He was a part of the great Juventus team of the 1980's.  He won the 1985 European Cup as Juventus' second top scorer.  He also went to the 1978 World Cup Finals.
Paolo Rossi

Honorble Mention
Walter Zenga, Gianluca Pagliuca, Enrico Albertosi, Lorenzo Buffon, Angelo Peruzzi, Francesco Toldo, Antonio Cabrini, Renzo De Vecch, Gianluca Zambrotta, Ciro Ferrara, Tarcisio Burgnich, Armando Picchi, Riccardo Ferri, Alessandro Costacurta, Pietro Vierchowood, Pietro Rava, Gennaro Gattuso, Giancarlo De Sisti, Gabriel Oriali, Giampiero Boniperti, Alessandro Del Piero, Francisco Totti, Roberto Donadoni, Christian Vieri, Giacomo Bulgarelli, Alessandro Altobelli, Filippo Inzaghi, Daniele De Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci,  Andrea BarzagliJorginho, Gianluca Vialli, Virginio Rosetta, Umberto Caligaris, Roberto Boninsegna, Roberto Bettega.

Squad Explanation
-- Gianluigi Buffon, Dino Zoff, Paulo Maldini, Gaetano Scirea, Franco Baresi, Giacinto Facchetti, Silvio Piola, Giuseppe Meazza, Roberto Baggio and Gianni Rivera are automatic selections.  No need to explain.  The Mazzolas probably also deserved automatic selections as well.  Almost half of the team was set before I even started.
-- I only considered "oriundo"players who were uncapped by other national teams. Anyway, Luis Monti, Miguel Ángel Andriolo, Raimondo Orsi and Enrique Guaita would be the only players seriously considered for a spot here.  Omar Sívori's greatness was for Juventus, not the Azzurri. I would not consider him even if he was uncapped by an Argentina.
-- IFFHS came up with three All-Time Dream teams for Italy. Their A team consisted of Gianluigi Buffon, Giuseppe Bergomi, Gaetano Scirea, Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Giacinto Facchetti, Marco Tardelli, Sandro Mazzola, Gianni Rivera, Giuseppe Meazza, and Roberto Baggio. They are followed by their B team: Dino Zoff, Tarcisio Burgnich, Claudio Gentile, Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta, Antonio Cabrini, Bruno Conti, Andrea Pirlo, Valentino Mazzola, Silvio Piola, and Luigi Riva. And finally, this is the Team C: Gianpiero Combi, Gianluca Zambrotta, Alessandro Costacurta, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Renzo De Vecchi, Carlo Parola, Giancarlo Antognoni, Roberto Donadoni, Paolo Rossi, and Roberto Bettega.
-- Italy won back-to-back World Cups in the 1930's.  Silvio Piola, Giuseppe Meazza and Giampiero Combi played on those teams.  Luis Monti might make this team, but I considered him to be Argentine.
-- Italy surprised the world by winning the 1982 World Cup. From that winning team, I selected Dino Zoff, Gaetano Scirea, Franco Baresi, Giancarlo Antognoni, Giuseppe Bergomi, Claudio Gentile, Marco Tardelli and Paulo Rossi. Franco Baresi was a young player at that World Cup Finals.  He did not play any match in Spain.
-- Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Andrea Pirlo and Alessandro Nesta were on the 2006 World Cup winning team. Nesta was injured during the tournament.  His selection was based upon overall career. 
-- Italy surprised the world when they won the 2020 European Championship.  Most of the players were unknown outside of Italy.  Giorgio Chiellini deserved a serious consideration after the 2020 European Championship.  However, he was still behind Fabio Cannavaro, Gaetano Scirea, Franco Baresi and Alessandro Nesta.  Gianluigi Donnarumma is still a long way from serious consideration.  I put Jorginho on honorable mention.  Anyone who led his nation to a victory in a major tournament deserved a spot on honorable mention.
-- Few countries in the world can have the same kind of depth Italy has created when it comes to goalkeeping. Gianluigi Buffon and Dino Zoff were undisputed selections.  Buffon should be considered the greatest goalkeeper of all-time.  Dino Zoff was best remembered for winning the 1982 World Cup as Italy's captain at the age of 40, but he also won the 1968 European Championship as the starting goalkeeper.
Gianluigi Buffon
-- Italy produced many great goalkeepers.  So the third goalkeeper was a tough decision.  Giampiero Combi, Walter Zenga, Angelo Peruzzi, Gianluca Pagliuca, Enrico Albertosi and Lorenzo Buffon all deserved the final spot.  
-- In his prime, Enrico Albertosi was considered to be on par with Dino Zoff.  He was ahead of Zoff at the 1970 World Cup Finals.
-- In the end, I chose Giampiero Combi because he seemed the be the most famous among the choices. He won the 1934 World Cup as Italy's captain.  He was due to retire before the World Cup Finals, but Italy's manager Vittorio Pozzo asked him to postpone his retirement and joined the team.  Italy regular starter Carlo Ceresoli suffered an injury before the World Cup Finals, and Combi was forced to take over.
-- Gianluigi Buffon's grandfather was a cousin of Lorenzo Buffon.
-- Italy has gained a reputation for employing the "catenaccio" tactics, a highly organized and effective backline defense system. Translated as "door-bolt," this approach has been widely utilized in Italy since the 1950s. As a result, Italy has become renowned for producing exceptional defenders in the world of football.  Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini were two of the greatest ever defenders.  Gaetano Scirea, Giacinto Facchetti and Alessandro Nesta also easily made this team.  Five defenders were set before I started researching.
-- I selected two centerback namely 
Giuseppe Bergomi and Claudio my as right-backs.  Consequently, I chose not to include a pure right-back in the team due to their proficiency in that roleGentile was widely regarded as one of the toughest players ever to grace the game.  Considering the options for the greatest right-back from Italy, Tarcisio Burgnich, Ciro Ferrara, and Gianluca Zambrotta emerged as strong contenders. Zambrotta, although capable of playing on both sides of the pitch, primarily excelled as a left wing-back or rightback. While a more modern approach might have involved selecting a right wing-back, I decided to stick with my initial choices of Bergomi and Gentile for now.
-- For leftbacks, I could not find rooms for Antonio Cabrini and Renzo De Vecch. They were behind Giacinto Facchetti and Paolo Maldini, two of greatest fullback ever played the game.  Giacinto Facchetti played for Inter Milan under Helenio Herrera.  He was a pioneer in the way he played the position. 
Giacinto Facchetti 
-- Antonio Cabrini was one of the greatest leftbacks ever coming from Europe.  He played in one of the greatest defensive units in history for both club and country.  I still could not find a spot for him. That said a lot of about the depth of Italian leftbacks.  Renzo De Vecch is the youngest official player to feature in a match for the Italian national team at 16 years, three months and 23 days, but he went back too far in history.  The same applied to Umberto Caligaris. I preferred modern defenders coming after "Catenaccio" was invented in Italy.  The Italian defenders were revolutionized by the system.  
-- Gaetano Scirea, Franco Baresi and Alessandro Nesta took three of the spots for central defence.  Then, I selected Fabio Cannavaro. He was the hero of the 2006 World Cup team and perhaps, the best player of the tournament.  That tournament separated him from other great Italian defenders who did not make the list.  He was also the second cap leader for Italy behind Buffon. It was almost impossible for anyone else to break into the team.  Giuseppe Bergomi and Claudio Gentile also played as central defenders.  As mentioned above, Giorgio Chiellini deserved a serious consideration after the 2020 European Championship, but players such as Armando Picchi, Riccardo Ferri, Alessandro Costacurta, Ciro Ferrara, Pietro Vierchowood and Pietro Rava also deserved a spot. 
-- Armando Picchi had a limited number of appearances for Italy, playing only 12 times. His exclusion from the 1966 World Cup Finals by manager Edmondo Fabbri proved unfortunate, as Italy faced elimination at the hands of North Korea. Although Picchi was later called back by Ferruccio Valcareggi, his chances were hindered by a serious injury in 1967. Consequently, he was unable to participate in the 1968 European Championship, which Italy wonRegrettably for Picchi, I opted to select Franco Baresi and Gaetano Scirea ahead of him.
-- Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli were collectively known as "BBC".  For Juventus, they were a rock solid until.  Ironically, they lost a Champions' League final against the "BBC" of Real Madrid. Chiellini and Bonucci also won an European Championship for Italy.  However, individually speaking, they were below the players I mentioned.
-- Luis Monti was probably the greatest ever defensive midfielder to have wore the Italian shirts.  As mentioned above, I considered him to be an Argentine.  So I took Marco Tardelli and Romeo Benetti.  They edged out Gennaro Gattuso and Daniele De Rossi.  Romeo Benetti whom I considered a forgotten player.  His name was seldom mentioned.  
-- Marco Tardelli played 81 times for Italy, which was a lot of games for his generation.  In Italy, he was remembered for the “ L'urlo di Tardelli ” (Tardelli's cry), the goal celebration he had after scoring one of the goals at the 1982 World Cup Finals. In 2007, the London Times newspaper in the United Kingdom placed him at number 10 in their list of the 50 hardest footballers in history.
-- Daniele De Rossi is actually the highest goal scoring midfielder for the Italian national team.  He is also the 4th most capped player.  Despite all of this, he seldom got mentioned as one of Italy's greatest defensive midfielders.  I put him on honorable mention.
-- Andrea Pirlo won a World Cup in 2006.  He starred for both AC Milan and Juventus. Somehow, I found him still underrated by many fans.  I considered him among the greatest ever from Italy. He also played in an unique role (deep lying playmaker).  His playing style changed the way I felt about the game and the role of a playmaker playing deep. So I actually put him on the starting lineups.  He played with Gennaro Gattuso for both club and country.  Pirlo kept Giancarlo De Sisti off the team.  Jorginho's notable performances during Italy's successful Euro 2020 campaign earned him an honorable mention in 2021.
-- The "trequartista" position, situated between the forward line and midfield, has long been associated with Italian football. Roberto Baggio, Gianni Rivera, and the Mazzolas were unquestionable choices for this team, embodying the essence of the position. Consequently, there was no room to include Alessandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti, despite their exceptional talents. Giancarlo Antognoni may not be traditionally classified as a "trequartista",  but the midfield was set before I looked beyond the four players I mentioned. 
-- Valentino and Sandro Mazzola were father and son. After his parents Valentino divorced his wife in 1946, it was him who raised a young Sandro until he died in the Superga air disaster in 1948.  Their playing styles were very different even through they played almost the same position.  Valentino was elegant while Sandro was more rugged.
Sandro Mazzola
-- Sandro Mazzola and Gianni Rivera, representing rival clubs Inter Milan and AC Milan respectively, both achieved success by winning European Cups for their respective teams. Rivera made history as the first Italian to win the Ballon D'or in 1969. In the 1970 World Cup, manager Ferruccio Valcareggi employed a strategy of starting Mazzola in the first half and Rivera in the second. However, Rivera only entered the field in the 84th minute of the final. By 1974, when they finally played together, both players had already passed their prime.
-- Giancarlo Antognoni's career would have been better known if he played for another club.  He was also injured during the 1982 World Cup Finals.  The spotlight went to Paulo Rossi and the Italian defense.  He was a trequartistas, but also dropped deeper than most trequartistas. Gianni Rivera was similar.  He could also play deeper.
-- Italy did not have many choices for wingers.  So I selected Bruno Conti.  He won a World Cup in 1982 and then, led AS Roma to a scudetti.  Giampiero Boniperti, Roberto Donadoni, Mario Corso and Franco Causio were some of the more famous Italian wingers.
-- Roberto Baggio, Silvio Piola and Giuseppe Meazza took three of the spots for forwards.  Piola and Meazza won World Cups for Italy.  
-- Silvio Piola is third in the all-time goalscoring records of the Italian national team. He is also the highest goalscorer in Italian league history, with 290 goals (274 in Serie A and 16 in Divisione Nazionale). He was voted as the second-best player at the 1938 World Cup Finals.
-- Roberto Baggio, deemed Italy's greatest player in the modern era, unfortunately faced underappreciation from his own country. Despite his immense talent, he was overlooked for the 2002 World Cup Finals and narrowly avoided being dropped for the 1998 World Cup Finals. Additionally, he never had the opportunity to participate in the Finals of the European Championship. Even during his stints at Juventus and AC Milan, Baggio's contributions were not fully acknowledged or appreciated.
-- Both Roberto Baggio and Alessandro Del Piero scored 27 international goals for Italy.  But Del Piero had 91 caps while Baggio only received 56 caps.
-- Meazza was Italy's best players as Italy won two consecutive World Cups in 1934 and 1938 as captain. He was named to the All-star Team and won the Golden Ball Award at the 1934 World Cup, as the tournament's best player. Meazza is widely considered one of Italy's greatest ever player.
Giuseppe Meazza
-- Although there were other exceptional Italian players, Paolo Rossi's remarkable performance in the 1982 World Cup earned him a spot on the team. Few players in history have single-handedly secured a World Cup victory. Rossi's unforgettable hat-trick against Brazil had a profound impact, changing the way the Brazilians played the game. It can be argued that Rossi's contributions altered the course of football history, given the significance of Brazilian football on the global stage.
-- I was debating between Giampiero Boniperti and Rossi.  I might need Boniperti's wide game on the right, but Conti could take care of that.  
-- While I may have possibly overrated Luigi Riva, it's worth noting that he holds the record for being Italy's all-time leading scorer. Riva was a quintessential target man, showcasing his prowess in front of goal. Another candidate for the target man role could be Christian Vieri, although he often went unnoticed due to his frequent club transfers and the lack of a long-standing club legacy. Additionally, Vieri missed out on the 2006 World Cup victory, resulting in his placement in the honorable mention category. Alessandro Altobelli and Filippo Inzaghi were also considered but ranked lower on the list of contenders.
World Cup 1982
Starting lineup 
Formation 3-4-1-2 
From the La Grande Inter to Antonio Conte's Italy, the libero position is one of the strongest aspect of the Italian game. This formation is built around the position. I believe Gentile would be a better partner than Scirea for Barsei in the back-three.  My lineup also lacks a good right wingback.  So I start Conte there.

Formation 4-4-2 (Diamond)
This formation is based on the 4-4-2 used by Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti.  I started Valentino Mazzola because he was more versatile than the other options.  He could defend, playmake and attack. He also could ply deeper than Rivera.  Capello did not really deploy a true winger so the formation needed wingbacks.  The left side is okay with Paulo Maldini who played for Capello and this formation in real life, but both Claude Gentile and Giuseppe Bergomi were very traditional rightback.  Bergomi was probably better offensive than Gentile.  

Formnation 4-4-2(Saachi)
Arrigo Saachi's 4-4-2 formation was revolutionary. It was based on a high intensity pressing game and high defensive line with a flat back four and a well-organized offside trap.  Saachi successfully used it for his tenure with AC Milan. and then, brought it the Azzurri.  At the 1994 World Cup Finals, he used Roberto Baggio as the focal point of his attack.  Roberto Donadoni who knew the system very well played on the left wing.  I need a midfielder who could both defend or create.  I was choosing between Valentino Mazzola or Andrea Pirlo.  Mazzola might be more defensive-minded than Pirlo.  He was known for his strength and stamina which should help Sacchi's high pressing game.

Arrigo Saachi
Formation III 3-5-2
This formation is based upon Antonio Conte's 3-5-2 used in recent years.  The back three looked great.  Gentile could operate as a rightback, which was a perfect replacement for Andrea Barzagli.  The midfield is tricky.  Claudio Marchisio was a key player for Conte.  I do not have a player liked him.  I do not think Baggio suited to play deep. So I used Riveria who had played a deeper position before.  Italy almost never used Riveria and Mazzola together on the same field. So I was not sure if the pair would work here.  I do not want to drop Roberto Baggio.  I can easily replace Meazza with him.


  1. Hi Lincoln Chan,
    The greatest Squadra Azzurra often described is like this; 5-3-2;
    Zoff (Buffon now i think)
    Bergomi, Baresi, Scirea, Maldini, Facchetti
    Rivera, Pirlo, Mazzola S.
    Meazza, Baggio

  2. why not albertini in the list ??

  3. Lincoln, I think Cabrini was a left back, not right back.

  4. 1.Buffon
    4.Baresi (c)
    8.V Mazzola
    9.R Baggio
    11.P Rossi
    8.S Mazzola
    9.R Bettega
    Maldini could also operate as centre back.As two left backs are in starting in XI, I omitted Cambrione or any other lb from bench.

  5. Lincoln, I'm surprised you don't have room for Tacisio Burgnich. Surely an honorable mention at the very least. Personally I think he's ahead of Gentile. Played right back and sweeper, won two European cups, and an important part of the Italy team that made Euro and World Cup finals.

  6. The only thing I would add is an honourable mention to Roberto Bettega

  7. Buffon, Zenga, Zoff
    Baresi, Bergomi, Cabrini, Cannavaro, Facchetti, Gentile, Maldini, Nesta, Scirea
    Conti, S.Mazzola, V.Mazzola, Pirlo, Rivera, Tardelli
    Baggio, Meazza, Piola, Riva, Totti

    Paolo Rossi is slightly overrated because of the ´82 WC I think. He gets an honorable mention

    1. Rossi topscorer serie B with Vicenza. Topscorer serie B with Vicenza. Topscorer Champions League 1983 with Juventus. Topscorer world cup 1982 with Juventus. Win serie B with Vicenza, 2 serie A, 1 cup of cup, 1 champions league with Juventus, 1 ballon d or and top 11 world cup 1978 and 1982.

    2. Rossi did one thing..... to win the World Cup in 1982 almost single handedly. Except Garrincha in 1962, no one ever got close. I rewarded him for that alone. I do agree that his career outside of Spain 1982 was not up to the standard I set up for this team.

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  9. Buffon, Zenga, Zoff
    Baresi, Bergomi, Cannavaro, Collovati, Facchetti, Gentile, Maldini, Scirea
    Conti, De Rossi, Donadoni, Ferrari, Gattuso, Pirlo, Tardelli
    Baggio, Meazza, Piola, Riva, Rossi

  10. Paolo rossi è giusto sia nei 23 per quanto fatto nell 82 ma bettega li era superiore, solo per questo merita una menzione.

  11. F.Cudicini
    Panucci Baresi Chiellini Maldini
    Bulgarelli Ferrari
    Meazza Piola Baggio

    I'm gambling on uncapped Fabio Cudicini to do marginally better than Zoff, as he did at club level.
    Chiellini completes Milan's best backline by replacing Costacurta.
    Piola is there for the big games.