Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Back in the time of tight shorts and second round group stages, the World Cup was very different. Except for Italy that is.
In 1982 the Azzurri drew their three first round group games but still sneaked their way into the second round. A 0-0 draw with Poland, a 1-1 draw with Peru and a 1-1 draw against Cameroon were met with howls of derision but the tradition of Italy being slow starters was born.
Fast forward three decades and the same is happening again. A 1-1 draw with Paraguay and Sunday’s shock 1-1 draw against 78th ranked New Zealand have left the world champions in a pickle but another stalemate against Slovakia on Thursday will be enough to put them though with three points if Paraguay defeat the Kiwis.
No one is talking about Italy successfully defending their title this year, not even coach Marcello Lippi and his team given their slow approach play, lack of ideas and uncharacteristic weakness at the back.
Marco Tardelli is famous for that crazy goal celebration as Italy won the 1982 World Cup.
He loves his country so much that he is ready to whisper the Italian national anthem at Bari on Wednesday despite the fact he is now assistant coach to Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni.