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Italy

Italy

Team Widget

Team Profile: Italy

GettyImagesFabio Grosso scored the winning penalty in the 2006 World Cup final.
Appearances at finals:
1934 - Winners
1938 - Winners
1950 - First round
1954 - First round
1962 - First round
1966 - First round
1970 - Runners-up
1974 - First round
1978 - Fourth place
1982 - Winners
1986 - Second round
1990 - Third place
1994 - Runners-up
1998 - Quarter-final
2002 - Second round
2006 - Winners

Overall record at finals: Played 77, Won 44, Drawn 19, Lost 14.

Best performance: Winners in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006.

Most appearances at finals: Paolo Maldini (1990, 1994, 1998, 2002) - 23.

Most goals at finals: Roberto Baggio (1990, 1994, 1998), Paolo Rossi (1978, 1982, 1986) - 9.

World Cup high: Emerging from the disgrace of the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal to restore the honour of Italian football by winning the 2006 World Cup.

World Cup low: Following the tragic loss of 12 players following the 1949 Superga air disaster, Italy take the boat to Brazil for World Cup 1950 but, tired and shorn of talent, go out in the first round.

World Cup Legend: Giuseppe 'Peppino' Meazza. The 1930 and 1934 World Cup winner is still considered by many to be the greatest Italian player of all time, as well as the greatest Italian forward of all time.

The story so far: Italy have played more World Cup football than any other team and have won the tournament on four occasions, with only Brazil, on five, winning more. In the pre-war era, the Azzurri were almost untouchable as they won the 1934 trophy on their debut appearance and retained the title in 1938. Post-war, Italy lost their way and were repeatedly knocked out in the first round.

In 1978, a new generation, including legendary striker Paolo Rossi, emerged and, after reaching the semi-finals in Argentina, won the World Cup in Spain in 1982. Ever since, the Azzurri have been a force to be reckoned with, routinely reaching the latter stages, and they won it again in 2006.

Qualification: Republic of Ireland, led by experienced Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni, proved to be the only real stumbling block in Group Eight. A 1-1 draw with Trapattoni's team at the San Nicola Stadium in Bari in April meant that the Italians could still be caught at the top of the group and, heading into their penultimate qualifier, at Ireland's Croke Park, could be condemend to the play-offs with a defeat. Ireland thought they had done enough when Sean St Ledger gave them a 2-1 lead in the 87th minute, but Alberto Gilardino scored a 90th-minute equaliser to book Italy's place at the World Cup finals.

Qualifying record: P10, W7, D3, L0, F18, A7, Pts24.

Most appearances: Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluca Zambrotta (9).

Top goalscorer: Alberto Gilardino (4).