Greatest Italian World Cup moments: Rossi and Baggio feature

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Though it would be tough to pick out just four of the most memorable World Cup moments from the most successful European nation in the history of the competition, we’ve plumped for four more recent additions.

Italy made history in the 1930s under Vittorio Pozzo, the only manager to claim back to back World Cups, but given that the 1934 and 1938 finals remain intertwined with Benito Mussolini, we’ve opted for memories from 1982, 1990, 1994 and 2006.

After all, part of the magic of the Azzurri is the seemingly tragic nature of their defeats. Capable of going all the way or crashing out early as they did in 2002 and 2010, Italy remain ones to watch at 25/1 to win the trophy.

Rampant Rossi sees off brilliant Brazil

Paolo Rossi was Italy’s hero at the 1982 World Cup, scoring the winner in their 3-1 final win over West Germany. However his finest hour came in the semi-finals, where the striker grabbed a hat-trick in a thrilling 3-2 win over Brazil – the best Selecao side to never win the World Cup. It was sweet redemption for Rossi, who had been banned for two years following a betting scandal, and finished the World Cup as the top scorer.

Schillaci inspires a nation

Back as hosts in 1990, Italy made a new cult hero in Toto Schillachi, the son of a Palermo bricklayer and the surprise star of the finals. He arrived at the tournament with a bang – coming on as a sub against Austria and netting the winner – and continued throughout the competition, scoring in every one of the Azzurri’s games barring the Second Round. Italy may have exited on penalties to Argentina in the semis, but Schillachi left the tournament with the Golden Boot and Golden Ball.

Roberto Baggio goes from hero to zero

The Divine Ponytail came of age at in 1994, dragging a poor Italy team all the way to the final with a series of virtuoso displays. It started in the last-16 with a last-gasp equaliser and extra-time winner against Nigeria and continued in the quarter finals with a late winner in a 2-1 win over Spain. Two goals in the semis against Bulgaria set up a final with Brazil, where Baggio etched his name in stone for all the wrong reasons – missing the decisive penalty to hand the trophy to the Selecao.

Grosso enjoys his own Tardelli moment

Little was expected of the Azzurri in 2006 following a season marred by match-fixing allegations. But as the competition went on the Italians gathered momentum, helped in no small part by a defence marshalled by Fabio Cannavaro and Zidane tormentor-in-chief Marco Materazzi.

And yet a different defender grabbed the headlines – Fabio Grosso. A Palermo player at the time, he would go on to earn a place in Italian history with his 119th minute goal against Germany and the celebration that followed – one not too dissimilar to the iconic ’82 final one of Marco Tardelli.

Things seemingly couldn’t get much better for Grosso, but they did – he scored the winning penalty in Italy’s shootout victory over France.

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.