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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
Italy's mixed fortunes
Italy's 1982 World Cup winning captain Dino Zoff
Zoff was the first keeper to lift the trophy as a captain
For much of their World Cup history Italy have either been very good or very bad.

On the first couple of occasions they entered the World Cup they won it - but after taking the 1938 title it was 1970 before they made it past the first round.

The 1934 tournament was gruelling work.

Despite being hosts, Italy had to qualify through a preliminary round and then, in the quarter-final, their 1-1 draw against Spain forced a replay the next day.

Players from both sides collapsed from exhaustion before Italian striker Giuseppe Meazza scored the only goal of the game.

Two days later, playing his fourth game in a week, Meazza scored again to see off Austria 1-0 in the semi-final.

World Cup record
1930: Did not enter
1934: Champions
1938: Champions
1950: First round exit
1954: First round exit
1958: Did not qualify
1962: First round exit
1966: First round exit
1970: Beaten finalist
1974: First round exit
1978: Fourth place
1982: Champions
1986: Second round exit
1990: Third place
1994: Beaten finalist
1998: Quarter-finalists

In the final, against Czechoslovakia, the heroic Meazza picked up an extra-time injury but recovered to lay on the winning goal for his team mate Schiavio.

Italy made it to the semi-finals in 1938 but were not expected to beat their opponents Brazil.

The Brazilian coach Adheniar Pimenta left out his best striker, Leonidas, saying: "I am resting him for the final."

But Italy won 2-1 and then thrashed Hungary 4-2 in the final.

When an aeroplane carrying the Torino team crashed in 1949, killing some of Italy's best players, a dark period in the national team's history began.

There were first round eliminations in 1950, 1954, 1962 and 1966 - the latter via a humiliating defeat at the hands of North Korea.

In 1958 they failed to qualify at all.

But in 1968 Italy won the European Championship and that set them up for the World Cup of 1970, when they made the final only to run into a Pele-inspired Brazil, who thrashed them 4-1.

The 1974 and 1978 tournaments saw further disappointments, but in 1982 the Italians became only the second country after Brazil to win the World Cup three times.

Having survived the opening round on goal difference, they marched to the second phase to meet Brazil.

The South Americans constantly attacked through Zico, Socrates and Falcao but Paolo Rossi plundered a hat-trick as Italy won 3-2.

Paolo Rossi scores in the 1982 World Cup final
Rossi scores in the 1982 final against Germany

Italy were too strong for Poland in a one-sided semi-final and they lifted the trophy with a 3-1 victory - one of the goals coming from Rossi again - over West Germany.

Dino Zoff, the 40-year-old Italian captain, was presented with the World Cup.

Mexico in 1986 saw second round elimination and when they hosted the 1990 competition, the country's success in terms of organisation was not matched on the field.

Italy had to settle for third place after losing to Argentina on penalties in the semi-finals.

Penalty shoot-outs returned to haunt them in 1994, when they lost in the final to Brazil, and also in 1998, when they went out to hosts France in the quarter-finals.

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MEXICO 3 +2 7
ITALY 3 +1 4
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ECUADOR 3 -2 3

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