Tuesday, February 2, 2021

What if Italy went to Euro 1992

This blogger Artur Yanturin of Russia copied many of my blog teams.  This blog was one of them.  It was my Russia All-Time Team here.  His team was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.   His Spartak Moscow All-Time team entry of was published in October 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2017.  His entry of the Dutch-German rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.  He also copied many many of my blog entries.

His Facebook and Instagram

Euro Qualifiers Italy vs Norway, November 1991
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

During the period between 1990 and 1994, Italian football experienced a remarkable Golden era. The Serie A emerged as the premier league worldwide, boasting exceptional talent. The national team was adorned with extraordinary players like Roberto Baggio, Paulo Maldini, Franco Baresi, and Gianluca Vialli. However, despite their star-studded lineup, Italy faced a major setback by failing to qualify for the 1992 European Championship.

The qualification campaign commenced on a disappointing note with two consecutive draws. In June 1991, Italy suffered a 2-1 defeat to Norway in Oslo, setting the stage for a crucial match against the Soviet Union in October of the same year. Unfortunately, the game concluded in a goalless draw, effectively eliminating Italy from the tournament with two matches still to be played. In the aftermath of this disappointing result, Azeglio Vicini was dismissed as the manager, and Arrigo Sacchi took over the helm of the Italian national team.

The story did not end there.  In December 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed.  Their national team also ceased to exist.  Briefly, a rumor surfaced that Italy might replace the Soviet Union at the European Championship that coming summer in Sweden.  However, the Association of Football Federations of the Commonwealth of Independent States was formed on 11 January 1992 and the CIS national team replaced the Soviet Union for the Finals.  The idea of this blog is to create a scenario where Italy replaced the Soviet Union. And I was not creating a team under neither Azeglio Vicini nor Arrigo Sacchi.  Both managers had their own preference in which I disagree.  So I am the manager of this team.
Italy vs Switzerland 1992

In the actual tournament,  Germany, France, Netherlands, England and Sweden were the pre-tournament favorites, but Denmark defied the odds to win the tournament by beating Germany in the Final.  Originally, Yugoslavia qualified for the tournament, but the team was disqualified due to the Yugoslav wars.  Denmark became a late replacement, but was not expected to do well.  Manager Richard Møller Nielsen was not respected in Denmark.  He had issues with many Danish players and Michael Laudrup decided not to join the team in Sweden.  Germany, on the other hand, was newly reunified.  Former East German players like Matthias Sammer, Andreas Thom and Thomas Doll reinforced the team that won the World Cup two years earlier, but Lothar Matthias was injured.  Meanwhile, the Netherlands was the defending European champion.  Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard were in their prime.  They were joined by a young Dennis Bergkamp.  France under Michel Platini qualified for the Finals with a 100% winning record.  Jean-Pierre Papin was the Ballon d'Or winner in 1991.  England lost just once in two years since their semifinal appearance at the 1990 World Cup Finals. They were unbeaten in the qualifiers, but was injury plagued for the Finals.  Paul Gascoigne was missing.  Of course, Sweden as the host was not to be underestimated. 

On paper, Italy was as good as any of the main contenders in the summer of 1992.  Italy had a heartbreaking loss in the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup Finals held in Italy.  The backbone of the 1990 team reminded in their prime.  This same basic team also reached the Final of the 1994 World Cup Finals two years later.  . 

In 1990, Juventus broke the transfer record to sign Roberto Baggio from Fiorentina. In the summer of 1992, Gianluca Vialli joined Juventus from Sampdoria in another transfer record.  That same summer, the record was broken again when Gianluigi Lentini joined AC Milan from Torino.  So in the summer of 1992, three of the four most expensive players in the world were Italians.  Meanwhile, AC Milan won Serie A title with an undefeated record in the 1991-1992 season.  Sampdoria reached the Final of the European Cup before losing to Johan Cruyff's Barcelona.  Torino also finished second in the UEFA Cup.  

Group of Death
In real life, Italy probably would end up in the Group of Death with Germany, Netherlands and Scotland in replacement of the CIS (Soviet Union). For the Italians, the Germans were beatable.  Germany had a better record against Italy in the 1980's and 1990's, but Italy never lost to Germany in a World Cup Finals or an European Championship Finals.  Germany actually started the tournament slowly. On their first match, Thomas Hässler scored a last minute freekick to save them from a loss against the CIS.  History would tell you that the CIS had lost their hearts in the tournament, but they actually managed to draw the Netherlands on the second match. By the last match, Germany was on the brink of elimination and CIS seemed to be in a better position.  Germany only reached the semifinal ahead of the CIS because the CIS self-collapsed against Scotland.   Meanwhile, between 1978 and 2008, Italy never lost to the Netherlands. In short, Italy "owned" both Germany and the Netherlands at that point in time. So it is very possible that Italy could produce much better results than the CIS.
Italy 1-0 Germany, 1992
In fact, Italy played all three teams in their Group that same year.  In March 1992, Italy beat Germany at home 1-0. Gianluca Vialli was sent off in a previous friendly match against Bulgaria.  The Italian FA quickly organized a match against San Marino so that Vialli could serve his suspension and play against Germany.  However, Vialli did not play.  Lothar Matthaus who missed the Euro 1992 because of an injury played against Italy.  Nine other German starters on that match also started against the CIS on the first match of Euro 1992.   And then, in September, Italy beat Netherlands 3-2 away with Baggio and Vialli playing together while Marco Van Basten, Ruud Guilt. Ronald Koeman, Frank Rijkaard, Dennis Bergkamp started for Netherlands.  Two months later, Scotland and Italy played to a goalless draw in a World Cup Qualifier.  Those results actually does not really mean much, but for the reason of this blog, Italy went 2-1-0 against their "group" members in 1992 and "qualified" for the semifinal against Denmark in my "imaginary" tournament .  However, beyond the semifinal would be unpredictable as destiney belonged to Denmark in 1992.

Team (only 20 players in 1992)
GK: Gianluca Pagliuca (Sampdoria)
Gianluca Pagliuca made his name with Sampdoria, winning the league in 1990-1991 and reaching the European Cup's final in 1992.  In 1994, Inter Milan broke the world transfer record for a keeper to sign him.  While at Inter, he reached UEFA Cup Final twice, winning it in 1997-1998.  For the national team, he was the starting keeper at both USA 1994 and France 1998.  In total, he had 39 caps.
Gianluca Pagliuca 
GK: Walter Zenga (Inter Milan)
Zenga was considered one of Italy's greatest keepers.   He played 58 times for Italy, notably at the 1990 WC Finals in Italy. He had five clean sheet, a total of 518 minutes without conceding a goal, a record still standing in the WC Finals.  He played mainly for Inter Milan, but also with Sampdoria, Padova and New England Revolution in the MLS of the USA. He won two UEFA Cups with Inter Milan. 

CB/RB:  Giuseppe Bergomi (Inter Milan)
Giuseppe 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. At the international level, Bergomi was a part of the strong defensive units of the national team throughout 1980's.  He was capped 81 times between 1982 and 1998. He won the World Cup in 1982 and appeared in the 1986 and 1990 World Cup Finals. 

SW: Ciro Ferrara (Napoli)
Ciro Ferrara was considered one of the best defenders in the world during his prime.  However, his career with the Azzurri was limited by the same period with some of the greatest defenders in history. He only had 49 caps between 1987 and 2000. For club football, he played nearly a decade for Napoli during Diego Maradona's years before moving to Juventus.  At Juventus, he won 6 scudettis and the Champions' League in the 1995-1996 season.

SW: Franco Baresi (AC Milan)
Franco Baresi was considered Italy's greatest libero.  He was capped 82 times for the Italian national team.  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. 
Franco Baresi 

CB: Alessandro Costacurta  (AC Milan)
Alessandro Costacurta was Baresi's partner at central defense for both club and country. He was a part of 5 Champions' League winning team for AC Milan.  However, he only played 59 times for Italy because largely of injuries. He went to two World Cup Finals (in 1994 and 1998), as well as a European Championship in 1996. With Italy, he managed to reach the 1994 World Cup Final, which was lost against Brazil on penalties.

CB: Riccardo Ferri (Inter Milan)
Riccardo Ferri spent most of his career with Inter Milan.  With them, he won two UEFA Cups in 1991 and 1994, and a Serie A title in 1989.  He had 45 caps.  He played at the 1988 European Championship and the 1990 World Cup Finals in Italy. Between 1994 and 1996, he played with Sampdoria along side his former Inter Milan teammate Walter Zenga. He was named World Soccer Team of the Year twice.

CB: Pietro Vierchowod (Sampdoria)
Pietro Vierchowod was the son of an Red Army soldier.  He was widely regarded as one of the greatest Italian centre-backs of all-time. With Roma, he won a Serie A title in 1983. With Sampdoria, he won four Italian Cups, one European Cup Winners' Cup and another scudetto. In 1995 he signed for Juventus and won his only Champions League in 1996 at the age of 37.   He held the 5th all-time appearance record in Serie A.  Capped 45 times.  He was the youngest member of Italy's WC winning team in 1982.  

CB/LB: Paolo Maldini (AC Milan)
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 Italy, Maldini took part in three European Championships, and four World Cups. Although he did not win a tournament with Italy, he reached the finals of the 1994 World Cup and Euro 2000, and the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup and Euro 1988. He was capped 126 times for Italy.  
Paolo Maldini 

CM: Fernando De Napoli (Napoli)
Fernando De Napoli was a part of the successful Napoli side that also featured Diego Maradona.  He served as Maradona's defensive foil in the midfield.  He won the scudetto in 1987 and 1990, the Coppa Italia in 1987, the UEFA Cup in 1989, and the Supercoppa Italiana in 1990. For his country, De Napoli took part in the 1986 World Cup Finals, Euro 88 and the 1990 World Cup Finals.

DM: Nicola Berti (Inter Milan)
Berti started his career as a seventeen-year-old with Parma under manager Arrigo Sacchi. After three seasons at Fiorentina he was signed by Internazionale in 1988 where he formed a notable midfield partnership with Lothar Matthäus, and was part of a team which won the 1988–89 record breaking Scudetto. He also won two UEFA Cups. At the international level, he earned 39 caps.  he appeared in both 1990 and 1994 World Cup Finals.

CM: Demetrio Albertini (AC Milan)
Demetrio Albertini was the deep-lying playmaker of the great AC Milan team of the 1990's.  He won 5 league titles in the 1990's and the Champions' League title in 1994. At the end of his career, he played for Atletico Madrid, Lazio and Barcelona. At the international level, he played for his country 79 times.  He went to the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, Euro 96, and Euro 2000. He was voted into the team of tournament at Euro 2000.

AM/CM: Giuseppe Giannini (AS Roma)
Nicknamed "Il Principe" (The Prince),  Giuseppe Giannini  was a symbol of Roma before the emerge of FrancescoTotti.  He played for AS Roma between 1982 and 1996. After AS Roma, he played in Austria for Sturm Graz, and for Napoli and Lecce in Italy. At the international level, Giannini was capped 47 times for Italy between 1986 and 1991, scoring 6 goals. He represented Italy at both Euro 1988 and the 1990 World Cup Finals hosted by Italy.

RW/LW/CM: Roberto Donadoni  (AC Milan)
Roberto Donadoni was one of Italy's greatest wingers.  He was a vital part of AC Milan's squad under both Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello, winning six Serie A titles, three European Cups, four Italian Supercups, three European Super Cups, and two Intercontinental Cups during his time at Milan. He went to the World Cup Finals in 1990 and 1994, where Italy finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. At the end of his career, he played briefly in MLS and Saudi Arabia.
Roberto Donadoni

RW: Attilio Lombardo (Sampdoria)
Lombardo is best known for his two spells at Sampdoria, especially during the club's golden period in the 1990's. He is one of the few players that has won the Serie A title with 3 different teams: Sampdoria, Juventus, and Lazio. At international level, he represented the Italy national football team on 19 occasions, although he was never called up for a major tournament.  He was capped 19 times between 1990 and 1997.

RW/LW: Gianluigi Lentini (Torino)
Gianluigi Lentini started with Torino.  He was once the world's most expensive footballer, when he moved from Torino to AC Milan for £13 million in 1992.  He was a key part of their side during the 1992–93 season under manager Fabio Capello.  In 1993, he had a serious car accident in which he never regained his former form after recovery.  He played for many clubs after the accident.  He was capped 13 times between 1991 and 1996.

FW/AM: Roberto Baggio (Juventus)
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
AM: Gianfranco Zola (Napoli)
Gianfranco Zola played with Diego Maradona at Napoli as a young player. He played for Parma between 1993 and 1996, winning the 1995 UEFA Cup. He moved to Chelsea in 1996 and won the FWA Footballer of the Year.  His transfer to Chelsea started a wave of foreign players heading over to England. For Italy, he only played 35 times for Italy due to overcrowding of attack midfielders during his prime. 

ST: Pierluigi Casiraghi (Juventus)
Casiraghi began his playing career in Italy in 1985, with his hometown club Monza. He moved Juventus in 1989.  Between 1993 and 1998, he played for Lazio, before ending his career with Chelsea in the Premier League.   He earned 44 caps and scored 13 goals for Italy.  He went to the 1994 FIFA World Cup Finals, and was also a member of Italy's UEFA Euro 1996 squad.

CF/FW: Gianluca Vialli (Sampdoria)
With Sampdoria, Vialli won the Cup Winners' Cup in 1990.  In 1992, he made a world record breaking transfer to Juventus.  In 1996, he helped Juventus to win their first ever Champions' League.  He went to Euro 1988.  However, at Italia 1990, he was unimpressive and lost his starting spot to Roberto Baggio and Salvatore Schillaci.  After the WC Finals, he had a feud with manager Sacchi that forced him out of the national team.
Gianluca Vialli

Players considered
Francesco Baiano, Roberto Mancini, Dino Baggio, Salvatore Schillaci, Luca Marchegiani, Stefano Tacconi, Giuseppe Signori, Ruggiero Rizzitelli, Daniele Massaro, Luigi De Agostini, Dino Baggio, Alberigo Evani, Massimo Crippa, Stefano Eranio, Alberigo Evani, Giancarlo Marocchi, Alessandro Bianchi, Luca Fusi, Amedeo Carboni, Mauro Tassotti, Giancarlo Marocchi, Ruggiero Rizzitelli, Alessandro Bianchi, Alberto Di Chiara.
Squad Explanation
-- Azeglio Vicini managed Italy until October, 1991.  And then, Arrigo Sacchi took over after Italy was eliminated. I did not like how Arrigo Sacchi and Azeglio Vicini would handle the national team between 1990 and 1994.  Vicini used different attacking lineups for every match and ignored Roberto Baggio for most of the Euro 1992 Qualifiers while Sacchi favored players from AC Milan.  So this team was basically a hybrid of a team from both managers.  Giuseppe Bergomi, Paulo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Roberto Baggio and Gianluca Vialli were the core of my team.  I also retained Fernando De Napoli, Walter Zenga and Giuseppe Giannini who did not feature much under Saachi.  Saachi also did not use Giuseppe Bergomi. But I would not say my team was more of Vicini than Sacchi, but it probably only reflected the year 1992 as a transitional period between the two World Cups.
-- Italy participated in the 1992 USA Cup held a few week before Euro 1992.  I did not really use it as a reference since Arrigo Sacchi used this tournament to experience new players and lineups, but most of the newcomers actually never made it beyond this tournament.  In general, Sacchi had capped nearly a hundred players during his tenure and most of them never figured much with the national team.  
Italy vs Portugal, USACup 1992
-- Six players were not on the 1990 World Cup team.  They were Pierluigi Casiraghi, Gianfranco Zola, Alessandro Costacurta, Demetrio Albertini, Gianluigi Lentini and Attilio Lombardo.  Albertini, Costacurta and Zola made their debut under Sacchi in the period before the Euro 1992 Finals.  I "promoted" several younger players to the squad.  Gianfranco Zola, Alessandro Costacurta and Demetrio Albertini.  In real life, they made their senior national debut after Italy failed to qualify for the Euro finals.  Both Pierluigi Casiraghi and Gianluigi Lentini earned their first cap in February, 1991 against Belgium.  Lentini actually started at the critical qualifier against the USSR.
-- Azeglio Vicini played for Sampdoria in his playing career.  In the early 1990's, Sampdoria was a top club, but he did not use much of Roberto Mancini, Gianluca Vialli, Pietro Vierchowod, Attilio Lombardo and Gianluca Pagliuca.   Except Mancini, I took the other Sampdoria players.
-- Five players came from AC Milan, where they won the scudetti with an undefeated record.  The players selected were Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Roberto Donadoni and Demetrio Albertini.
-- Since 1982, seven of the nine third-placed teams at the World Cup have gone on and failed to qualify for the following European Championship.  In 1992, Italy was the third straight teams that failed to qualify after Poland and France failed in the previous two tournaments. 
-- Walter Zenga and Gianluca Pagliuca were the automatic selections for the two goalkeeper position.  They were Azeglio Vicini's choices during that perid.
-- For three consecutive years (1989–1991), Walter Zenga was nominated by IFFHS the best goalkeeper in the world, ahead of goalkeepers like Michel Preud'homme, Rinat Dasaev and Andoni Zubizarreta.  He was the regular starter of the national team.
-- At the time of Euro 1992, Gianluca Pagliuca was capped 4 times by Italy.  One of his cap came against Norway in an European Championship qualifier in November, 1991.  The match was a meaningless game played after Italy had fell to qualify for the Finals.
-- There were no third goalkeeper in 1992, but Luca Marchegiani or Stefano Tacconi probably would be my other options.
-- Luca Marchegiani became Italy's starting goalkeeper after Euro 1992, but eventually, the number one spot belonged to Gianliuca Pagliuca who became the starter in the 1994 World Cup Finals. 
-- Stefano Tacconi was capped 7 times between 1987 and 1991. He was Zenga's backup until the emerge of Pagliuca as Zenga's understudy.
-- Giovanni Galli left AC Milan in the summer of 1991.  He continued at a high level for Napoli, but he was uncapped since the 1986 World Cup Finals.  In the 1991-1992 season, Sebastiano Rossi established as AC Milan's number one, but he was never capped by Italy.  
-- Basically, I included the entire defensive unit from the 1990 World Cup team, except Luigi De Agostini.  The defensive unit was basically "who's who" in football.  Franco Baresi (32) and Pietro Vierchowod (33) were older, but Paolo Maldini (23), Ricardo Ferri (26), Giuseppe Bergomi (28) and Ciro Ferrara (25 ) were all in their prime. Marco van Basten named Pietro Vierchowod and Riccardo Ferri as two of the best defenders he ever faced, while Gabriel Batistuta described Vierchowod as the best defender in the world in 1992. I did not try to change things around.  
-- I took Alessandro Costacurta over Luigi De Agostini because I wanted a new face on the defence. He made his debut with Azzurri immediately after Sacchi took over in 1991. By the summer of 1992, he had been a regular starter for AC Milan in the previous three seasons.  On the other hand, De Agostini was 32 in the summer of 1992.  He left Juventus for Inter Milan in 1992, a move seemed to the beginning of the end for him at the time.  He was also dropped by Arrigo Sacchi.  However, it might be a mistake.  Without De Agostini, Paolo Maldini would be the only defender who could play as a wingback. 
Alessandro Costacurta
-- I considered Moreno Mannini, Amedeo Carboni and Mauro Tassotti for fullbacks, but I kept Giuseppe Bergomi and Ciro Ferrara.  Both Ferrara and Bergomi were dropped by Sacchi.  Ferrara did not play for him again until 1995 while Bergomi did not return to the Azzurri until the 1998 World Cup Finals under Cesare Maldini.  Nevertheless, both players were among the top defenders in the world.
-- Mauro Tassotti was the only member of AC Milan's back four who was not selected.  In real life, he did not win his first cap for Italy until age 32, under Arrigo Sacchi, in a 2–2 home draw against Switzerland in a 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifier on 14 October 1992.  Moreno Mannini also did not get his first cap until February, 1992 when he was 30 years old.  Amedeo Carboni was 27 years old when he first play for the senior national side also in 1992.
-- In midfield, I took two blue-collar players Fernando De Napoli and Nicola Berti.  De Napoli was known as "Rambo" while Berti served as a "Mezzala" for Sacchi.  In real life, De Napoli earned his last cap on March, 1992 against Germany.  He also left Napoli for AC Milan in the summer.  After 1992, his career went downhill, but I would not know that in the summer of 1992.  I was also reluctant to drop him for Dino Baggio who just had a breakthrough season with Inter Milan. 
-- Carlo Ancelotti retired at the end of the season.  His role was limited throughout the season.  Saachi only gave him a single cap in 1992, which was more liked a friendly farewell cap for him.
-- Giuseppe Giannini played in some qualifiers for Azeglio Vincini, but Sacchi did not select him after the Euro qualifiers.  His last international match was the critical qualifier against the Soviet Union in 1991.  Nevertheless, he was only 27 at the time of Euro 1992. I needed a "regista" so I took him.
-- I wanted to inject some young blood onto the team.  In real life, both Demetrio Albertini and Dino Baggio helped Italy to win the European Under 21 Championship playing the second leg of the Final in Sweden  7 days before the Euro 1992 Final.  Both were capped by Italy in the senior level in 1991.  Albertini had established as a member of AC Milan's undefeated team that season while Dino Baggio was on loan with Inter Milan.  I took Albertini because I needed a "regista" to backup Giuseppe Giannini. 
Demetrio Albertini's senior debut in 1991
-- Both Vincini and Sacchi did not feature Attilio Lombardo much, but he was named "World Soccer Best XI" in 1992.  Then, I took Gianluigi Lentini.  After a great performance in the 1991-1992 season, he became the most expensive player in the world when he signed for AC Milan.  Of course, Roberto Donadoni was an automatic selection.  I did not consider Stefano Eranio whom Sacchi favored.
-- The center of my offense (even the team) would be Roberto Baggio.  A year later in 1993, Baggio would be named as the FIFA World Player of the Year.  In the 1991-1992 Serie A season,  he was the second Top Scorer.  In 1992,  he was already an emerging superstar.  He was the hero of the World Cup in 1990, but Vicini ignored him for the Euro 1992 Qualifiers.  He played in the first 2 matches of the campaign, but he did not play again until the last meaningless match against Cyprus after Italy was eliminated and Sacchi was in charge. 
-- Two years later, Baggio led an uninspired Italy side managed by Arrigo Sacchi to the 1994 World Cup final, scoring five goals in the process.  I was at the Foxboro Stadium when Baggio's individual brilliance saved Italy from exit against both Nigeria and Spain in the round of 16 and quarterfinal respectively.  After the World Cup Finals, Baggio fell out of favor with Sacchi.  He only used Baggio twice, and did not to take him for the Euro 1996, where Italy was eliminated embarrassingly in the group stage.  He only made it to France 1998 because of an injury scare to Alessandro Del Piero.  In France, he was Italy's best player, but Del Piero was the first choice over him. In 2000, he was at odd with his club manager Marcello Lippi in Inter Milan.  His playing time was limited, but he was performing at a level where he could easily make the team for Euro 2000. However, Dino Zoff decided against selecting him despite appeals from pundits, fans, etc. Italy had yet another heartbreaking loss in the Final against France, where Del Piero missed several important chances.  We would never know if Baggio could finish them. 
-- Roberto Baggio never played in an European Championship Finals.  When Baggio retired, he only managed 56 caps. Both Del Piero and Baggio scored 27 goals each for Italy, but Baggio had 56 caps while Del Piero had 91. He had two more goals than Filippo Inzaghi who had 57 caps. Inzaghi's reputation as a goal poacher was well-documented if not well-respected.  This blog was my way of creating a make-believe redemption for Baggio.
-- Baggio also did not enjoy a good relation with his managers in his club career.  With Juventus, Marcello Lippi benched him for Del Piero.  He again benched and sent Baggio away when he managed Inter Milan years later. In between, Baggio was sent away by AC Milan. Parts of his Milan career was with Fabio Capello, who also benched Baggio. Meanwhile, Carlos Ancelotti threatened to resign if Parma signed Baggio. I just went over every notable Italian coaches and clubs in the last 20 years. 
-- Gianluca Vialli was the second focal point of my offence.  He was the second best Italian attacker in the 1990's after Baggio.  How could I ignore him? 
-- Vialli and Baggio were not known for their on field chemistry, but I would take a gamble on them as my starters.  They did not play with each other under Azeglio Vicini  during the 1990 World Cup Finals.  During the Euro 1992 Qualifiers, Vicini again never used them together.  The duo only appeared once in the meaningless match against Cyprus on the last day of the qualifiers under Sacchi.  Between 1990 and 1994,  Saachi only used Vialli 8 times and he played with Baggio only 4 of the occasions. He later dropped Vialli altogether and Vialli's international career ended by December, 1992 with 59 caps.
Vialli and Baggio seldom played together for Italy
-- Baggio and Vialli spent three seasons as clubmates from 1992 to 1995.  Vialli failed to produce in their first season while Baggio flourished and won the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1993. However, Juventus won the 1992-1993 UEFA Cup with Baggio scoring 6 goals and Vialli 5 goals. Then, Vialli was injured in their second year while Baggio was injured in their third.  I chose to select both because the main point of this team was to showcase Italy's most talented attackers of the generation at the European Championship.
-- Roberto Baggio, Roberto Mancini and Gianfranco Zola were all "fantasista".  They could not coexist on the same field.  Since I already have Baggio, I have to decide between Mancini and Zola to be Baggio's back-up.  
-- Ideally, I should select Mancini because he was the other half of Sampdoria's "Goal Twins ("I Gemelli del Gol)" with Gianluca Vialli.  Actually, the pair seldom played together for the Azzurri.  Moreover, Mancini often failed to perform wearing his Italian jersey.  Enzo Bearzot bypassed him for the 1986 World Cup Finals, and he never played a game in the 1990 World Cup Finals.  As of the summer of 1992, he scored a single goal in 29 caps.  Instead, I took Gianfranco Zola.  
-- Zola made his international debut in late 1991 under Arrigo Sacchi. That season, Zola scored 12 goals in 34 appearances for Napoli.  Napoli earned 4th place in Serie A despite being the first season after Diego Maradona left the team. Furthermore, I wanted more fresh blood who were not from the 1990 team.
-- Pierluigi Casiraghi was my fourth forward.  He was a different type of a player from Baggio and Zola.  He was  a "Prima Punta". He was strong in the air.  I did not seriously consider Salvatore Schillaci.  Both Casiraghi and Schillaci were teammates at Juventus, where both actually shared very similar stats.  Casiraghi played 41 matches scoring 8 goals while Schillaci had 40 matches and 7 goals.  I took Casiraghi because he was an up and coming player while Schillaci was out of form since the 1990 World Cup Finals.  Schillaci only scored a single international goal outside of the 1990 World Cup Finals.
-- Francesco Baiano (Serie A top scorer) was too much of a Trequartista, in which I already have Zola and Baggio.  Giuseppe Signori only made his debut in the summer of 1992. He had a good tournament in the USA Cup (I was at the stadium), but he must wait his turn. I took Casiraghi because he was a center forward while I saw Signori best at as a secondary forward.  Christian Vieri was a teenage striker playing for Torino.  
Italy vs Germany, 1992

Starting lineup
The main part of this blog team was to play Roberto Baggio with Gianfranco Vialli upfront.  No one really talked much about their parnership in Juventus, but I would take a gamble on them.  Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi were undisputed starters, but I could start any of the other defenders.  I prefered the younger Gianluca Pagliuca, but I am happy to switch Walter Zenga over him.

Formation I
This is an unrealistic formation in the real world of 1992.  Spanish coach Juanma Lillo was known to be the one who revolutionized the formation while he was coaching Cultural Leonessa in the Spanish Segunda Division in 1991-92 season.  I did not expect the Azzurri would copy the tactics of a lower division team in Spain during the Euro 1992. This formation is only for the show.

Formation II
Although the team was not based upon Arrigo Sacchi's team, his tactics was well-respected by 1992.  So it was natural for the manager of Italy to be influenced by him. It was based on a high intensity pressing game and high defensive line with a flat back four and a well-organized offside trap.  Realistically, it is hard to copy his tactics on the international level because the international managers could only fine toned his defensive unit during the international breaks.  Arrigo Sacchi himself found it more difficult with Azzurri than AC Milan.

I used three AC Milan in the back four, but Bergomi was dropped by Sacchi.  The careers of De Napoli, Vialli and Giannini also ended with him.  So it is very unrealistic to see this lineup.  I did not want to start Demetrio Albertini who was a new player in 1992 over Giuseppe Giannini I also prefer De Napoli over Berti who played for Sacchi in the 1994 World Cup Finals.

Formation III
Both Argentina and West Germany won the World Cup in 1986 and 1990 respectively with their own version of the 3-5-2 formation.  Azeglio Vicini also played with three defenders at the 1990 World Cup Finals.  So it was more realistic to see this formation.

The talent level on this imaginary 1992 team was very even.  The starting lineups are not fixed. On defence, Franco Baresi is my undisputed starters. I have no preference of Ricardo Ferri, Giuseppe Bergomi, Ciro Ferrara, Pietro Vierchowod and Alessandro Costacurta I could easily use Maldini there as one of my back three  On the right wing, I started Roberto Donadoni because of his experiences.  I could easily replace him with either Gianluigi Lentini and Attilio Lombardo.  In the 1990 World Cup, Luigi De Agostini was one of the flank players.  He was more defensive than Donadoni.


  1. Pagliuca
    Enrico-Annoni Roberto-Cravero Baresi Maldini
    Carlo-Perrone Giorgio-Venturin Luca-Fusi Zola
    Vialli Signori

    The best of Sampdoria, Torino and DBS-calcio 1991-1992.

  2. Interesting. I never understood why Giannini and other players who participated in 1990 weren't called up by Sacchi.