At the 1982 World Cup, the Brazilian national team were establishing a burgeoning reputation as the darlings of the tournament. With players like Zico and Socrates, their brand of enterprising, vibrant football was a joy to behold as they steamrollered their way through the first group stage and into the second round of the tournament.
They were the undoubted favorites for the competition and after winning their previous four games, the Selecao looked both irrepressible and unbeatable in equal measures. Brazil only needed a draw in their final second-round game against Italy to progress to the semi-finals.
In stark contrast to the Brazilians, Enzo Bearzot’s Azzurri outfit had struggled for form early in the tournament, drawing all three of their opening group games in the initial group stage; they just about sneaked through to the second round on goals scored.
But there were signs of improvement from the Italians. They had beaten Argentina in their first second-round group game and knew a win against the favorites would be enough to see them progress to the next round. Easier said than done, of course.
The game was billed as you might expect: Brazilian flair and flamboyance against Italian defensive diligence—catenaccio as it was dubbed.
But in truth, this was supposed to be just another step en-route to this Brazil team cementing their status as one of the greatest sides of all time.
The Azzurri were in no mood to roll over however, and what ensued was one of the most thrilling, dramatic and tactically significant football matches in history.
Match: Brazil vs. Italy
Competition: World Cup 1982, Second Round Group Stage
Date: July 5, 1982
Stadium: Sarria Stadium, Barcelona
Brazil: (4-2-2-2) Waldir; Leandro, Oscar, Luizinho, Junior; Falcao, Cerezo; Zico, Socrates; Eder, Serginho
Italy: (3-5-2) Zoff; Gentile, Scirea, Collovati; Conti, Tardelli, Oriali, Cabrini, Antognoni; Rossi, Graziani
After watching the match, feel free to post your observations regarding the game in the comments section below. We’d love to hear your feedback, and whether the match lived up to its billing or not. Plus, if you have any suggestions for classic soccer matches for us to feature in future columns, let us know in the comments section below!
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