Few football names provide such mouth-watering ideology than both Brazil and Italy. Yellow and green against blue and white. Selecao verses Azzurri. Nine World Cup winners trophies between them. The legend of attacking football against the masters of defence.
And the fact that on only a handful of occasions these two great nations have played out top level important football on the biggest stage adds to the spice of why we take this match and build up the anticipation to it being like no other in the international football calendar.
Brazil verses Argentina might be a more fierce rivalry, Italy might look at Germany as a more local threat, but Brazil verses Italy is a football lesson. Education, It really is defence verses attack and it really has thrown up some of the best football games the world has ever seen.
Here’s three of the best remembered from these two great nations.
1970: Brazil 4-1 Italy (World Cup Final, Mexico City).
The final that would determine the greatest team on earth, as both Brazil and Italy with two World Cup titles between them would bid to become the first nation to win all three.
Pele, the legend, first to score as he headed home a hooked Tostao cross in front of 107,000 at the Azteca. Brazil’s 100th goal in world cup football. Boninsegna would equalise as goalkeeper Felix comes racing out to a ball that wasn’t his ensuring the sides are level at the break. Brazil go close through Pele, Italy close through Domenghini and Rivelino hits the bar before Gerson scores a belter on 66. Pele then nods down to Jairzinho who becomes the first to score in every game of the World Cup finals before Carlos Alberto rounds off one of the best team goals ever seen as he blasts Pele’s perfectly weighted pass home into the corner.
1982: Italy 3-2 Brazil (World Cup Second Round, Barcelona).
Described by many as one of the greatest games of football ever. This second round World Cup match acted pretty much as a knock out game with the winners Italy reaching the semi-finals to play West Germany.
At the then home of Espanyol in the Spanish sun it was Paolo Rossi, disgraced two years earlier for a betting scandal who opened the scoring for Italy, his first of the competition on just five minutes. Brazil though would equalise through Socrates who scored from a tight angle on 12 before Rossi raced through to smash home his second. Italy lead in a game that ebbed and flowed, Brazil unfortunate not to equalise either side of the break. Rossi should have made it three before Falcao was given too much time on the edge of the box. But Rossi wasn’t to be outdone, he made history on 75 as he prodded home from close range to send Italy through, ‘a tragedia do sarria’ according to Brazilian press, upset that the result was a defeat for the attacking football philosophy as an unfashionable Italy team beat argubally the greatest ever side never to win the World Cup.
1994: Brazil 0-0 Italy (World Cup Final, Pasadena) Brazil won 3-2 on pens aet.
Unlike the two aforementioned this was not a classic. Much hyped as the perfect final fitting for the Pasadena Rose Bowl and 94,000 fans at the USA World Cup but the game largely disappointed becoming the first world cup final to end goalless and go to penalties.
Chances were few and far between with defences very much on top. Unlike in 1982 Brazil were solid without flair, Italy reliant on Roberto Baggio with Brazil looking to their front pairing of Bebeto & Romario. The closest anyone coming when Pagliuca fumbled a tame shot by Mauro Silva on to his post. The rest of the 120 minutes really was that uneventful. The penalty shootout however was not. Baresi missed the first kick in a World Cup final shootout for Italy, Marcio Santos missed the second for Brazil. Four more were scored before Massaro’s shot was saved by Taffarel. Brazil captain Dunga made no mistake from his penalty leaving Roberto Baggio, the tournaments best player to blaze over and with it went the Italian chances of a famous win. If 1982 was a tragedy for the attacking philosophy, Brazil certainly got their own back in 1994.
Quick Fact: Only 16 games between these two famous nations with the first in the 1938 World Cup ending 2-1 to Italy.