Black & White Stories: Italia-Austria in Bianconero

Black & White Stories: Italia-Austria in Bianconero
Black & White Stories: Italia-Austria in Bianconero
Black & White Stories: Italia-Austria in Bianconero

Italy-Austria is both a classic and an unprecedented one. The match has a conspicuous and ancient tradition, it has already been played 37 times and was particularly important in the 1930s: in 1934 the Azzurri prevailed in the semi-final of the World Cup 1-0 and two years later the match was repeated in the 1936 Olympic Football final, with Italy winning 2-1 to seal the gold. However, the two teams have never before faced each other in the knockout phase of the European Championship. For Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, it will be an opportunity to face a great opponent like Real Madrid’s David Alaba, who was previously faced by the Juventus pair when he played for Bayern Munich in the Champions League.



The last precedent between Italy and Austria is a friendly match dating back to 20th August 2008, played in Nice with the match finishing 2-2. The main reason of interest regarding Juve is not so much in the Bianconeri called up by Marcello Lippi for Italy, but rather the Bianconeri’s new summer signing in the Austrian goal, that of Alexander Manninger, the first Austrian in Juventus’ history. The shotstopper, who had already had experiences with various clubs in Italy: Fiorentina, Torino, Bologna and Siena, would go onto make his Bianconeri debut a month later, replacing Gianluigi Buffon against Cagliari. Manninger would then spend a total of four seasons at Juventus, ending his Bianconeri career with the 2011/12 Scudetto.



Speaking of friendlies, goalkeepers, and the link with the present: Roberto Mancini's Italy haven’t conceded a goal for some time, 1,000 minutes to be precise! The current holder of the longest unbeaten streak in blue belongs to Juventus legend, Dino Zoff, who went 1,142 minutes between 1972-74 without conceding. The goal that eventually ended the run came in the 1974 World Cup against debutants, Haiti, with Italy’s previous match against, Austria of course! The game in Vienna had ended 0-0 in Italy’s final World Cup warm-up.



If there are no prior knockout precedents to the European Championship, Italy-Austria instead has a rich and important history in the World Cup. In France, in 1998, the match closed the group and saw the Azzurri prevail 2-1. The match is remembered above all for a situation exactly opposite to the above photo: Roberto Baggio, playing for Bologna at the time replaced Alessandro Del Piero and scored the game’s winning goal in the 90th minute. Thus, the "dualism" that at Juve had been resolved with Del Piero replacing Baggio and then the subsequent sale of Roberto, played out again in the national team with opposing results.



However, the most important substitution in Italy-Austria happened in Italia '90. In the Azzurri’s first match at the Stadio Olimpico, Austria proved very difficult to break down, despite good play and opportunities from Italy. The decisive move came from the bench 15 minutes from time, when Juventus’ Totò Schillaci entered the field, and in just four minutes headed home the game’s winning goal. For Totò it was the beginning of an incredible adventure that would see him crowned the tournament’s best player, as well as top scorer.



The most Juventus-based Italy-Austria of all occurred in the 1978 World Cup, where Enzo Bearzot's team was strongly built on Giovanni Trapattoni’s Bianconeri block. In Italy-Austria, which was also decided by a goal to nil, courtesy of Paolo Rossi, who was part of eight Bianconeri in the starting XI, with the addition of substitute, Antonello Cuccureddu to make it nine Bianconeri on the pitch.

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