minutes: that is how long Enzo Bearzot spent inside under-intense-pressure striker Paolo Rossi’s hotel room on the eve of the game against Brazil discussing cubist and surrealist painters. ‘The Old Man’ knew a bit about Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and the like, but had to ask a member of his backroom staff for some extra information in order to hold a deeper conversation with the art fanatic in an attempt to relax his nerves. It worked. Rossi painted Barcelona blue.
seconds: that is how long Giancarlo Antognoni’s heart stopped beating after a ghastly collision in November 1981. A flying knee from Genoa goalkeeper Silvano Martina accidentally smashed into the Fiorentina No10’s face. Genoa captain Claudio Onofri screamed, “he’s dead, he’s dead”, but the untwisting of his tongue and mouth-to-mouth resuscitated Antognoni’s pulse. Despite fracturing his skull in two places, the midfielder miraculously recovered and provided three assists in six appearances at Spain 1982 – a figure surpassed only by Zico and Pierre Littbarski.
matches without defeat is what Brazil were universally expected to stroll on to against Italy. They had last lost 2-1 to Uruguay in Montevideo in January 1981, and they had been without Falcao and Zico. Thereafter, A Seleção had won all seven of their appearances in Europe, including beating England in London, France in Paris, and West Germany in Stuttgart.
fouls is the staggering number Claudio Gentile committed on Argentina danger man Diego Maradona. When questioned about his physical approach post-match, the Libya-born defender declared: “Football is not for ballerinas.”
years and ten months was the mammoth age difference between 18-year-old Giuseppe Bergomi and 40-year-old Dino Zoff, the second-youngest and oldest players to have played in a World Cup Final. The next-biggest difference between starters from a World Cup Final-winning side was the 15 years and five months between Pele and Nilton Santos in the 1962 decider. There was only four years and five months between France’s youngest and oldest starters – Zinedine Zidane and Frank Leboeuf – in 1998.
hours and 56 minutes: that was the international goal drought Paolo Rossi was on until he broke the deadlock in the blockbuster against Brazil. The Tuscan had last scored for Italy in a 4-1 loss to Yugoslavia over three years earlier. Rossi’s opener was also his first in nine hours and 27 minutes of World Cup action, having failed to score in his last 257 minutes in Argentina and taken five matches to break his duck in Spain.
players went unused by Bearzot – Franco Baresi, Ivano Bordon, Giuseppe Dossena, Giovanni Galli, Daniele Massaro, Franco Selvaggi and Pietro Vierchowod – a record for a World Cup-winning squad since substitutes were introduced in 1970. Furthermore, only 13 players started for Italy in Spain – the second-lowest from the tournament’s champions. Brazil utilised only 12 players in 1962, but they played only six matches. By contrast, all but two members of France’s squad – reserve goalkeepers Lionel Charbonnier and Bernard Lama – made their starting XI during the 1998 tournament.
Juventus players began at the Bernabeu – Zoff, Gaetano Scirea, Gentile, Antonio Cabrini, Marco Tardelli and Rossi – equalling the record for most players in a triumphant team’s starting XI in the Final. Sepp Maier, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, Franz Beckenbauer, Paul Breitner, Uli Hoeness and Gerd Muller – all of Bayern Munich – started for West Germany in the 1974 decider. Later, six Barcelona and six Bayern players made the respective starting line-ups for Spain in the 2010 Final and Germany in the 2014 one.
The position that Tardelli’s historic, hysteric scream against West Germany came in a BBC poll to find the 100 greatest World Cup moments. The next-highest goal celebration – Bebeto’s iconic baby-cradle in 1994 – came way back in 49th.
of the top ten: that is what Italy’s World Cup Final-winning XI had in The Times newspaper’s 50 Greatest Hard Men compilation. Gentile, Bergomi and Tardelli came eighth, ninth and tenth respectively – ahead of the likes of Roy Keane, Antonio Rattin and Graeme Souness – on a list topped by ‘The Butcher of Bilbao’, Andoni Goikoetxea.
goals in a game against Brazil is what Paolo Rossi became just the ninth player to score. It took another 30 years for Lionel Messi to become the tenth. Only Rossi and Ernst Willimowski, who hit four goals for Poland in a 6-5 loss to Brazil in 1938, have accomplished the feat in the World Cup.
of the four Italians who made the Panini World Cup album, which was finalised just before the squads were, failed to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Roberto Pruzzo, fresh from winning back-to-back Capocannonieri, was surprisingly left out in favour of Daniele Massaro, who had just one Serie A goal to his name. Bearzot delayed naming his squad in order to give Roberto Bettega every chance to return from a knee-ligament injury, but eventually had to concede defeat and name Franco Selvaggi, who managed just eight goals in 1981/82 for almost-relegated Cagliari, in his place.
matches is what La Nazionale won in Group 1 – every other World Cup-winning side has won at least two of their opening three games. Italy drew all three games, as did Cameroon, but progressed on goals scored after managing one more than their rivals. Not one of the other five sides to have advanced from the first phase without tasting victory – Bulgaria and Uruguay in 1986, the Netherlands and Republic of Ireland in 1990, and Chile in 1998 – went on to win a knockout-stage match.