In 1932 Italy won the right to host the 1934 World Cup and Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime spent two years promoting and organising the tournament.
They wanted to make it a grand event to showcase their political ideologies, which was reflected in the design of the stadiums and promotional material.
The marketing of the event however didn’t lead to sell out crowds and only the games featuring Italy had full houses.
The Italian team had mixed results in the lead up to this World Cup, and were comprehensively outplayed by Austria three months before the tournament, which led to changes being made to the squad.
The Italian side was typically physical with a lot of stamina, but the Italian management relied on Argentinian born players in this era to provide them with some balance and flair.
One of those was midfielder, Luis Monti, who was on the losing side against Uruguay in the 1930 final before switching allegiances, and another was a winger, Raimundo Orsi.
Orsi had moved to Juventus in 1928 after impressing in the Olympic games that year, and he scored a brace in a 7-1 victory over the USA in the first round to help Italy off to the perfect start.
In addition to the Argentines, they had one of the greatest Italian (actually born in Italy) forwards of all-time up front. They named the San Siro after him too.
His name of course, is Giuseppe Meazza.
It was Meazza’s goals and invention that got Italy to the final. Italy’s route to the final was almost certainly aided by Mussolini’s tactics off the pitch too – such as having dinner with referees.
Although the stage seemed set for Italy to win the World Cup, the final would prove to be far from easy.
In this era, central European football was strong, and although Italy beat favourites Austria in the semi-finals they had another tough test to come.
Czechoslovakia had improved as the tournament progressed, and with 10 minutes to go found themselves within touching distance of winning the World Cup after they had taken a shock lead against the hosts on the 71st minute.
With the final turning into a nightmare for Mussolini and Italy, Orsi turns beautifully on the edge of the box and with a swing of the right boot beats the Czech goalkeeper to bring Italy level.
What Happened Next?
Italy were buoyed by the equaliser and had a penalty decision, unsurprisingly, go in their favour before they won the game in extra time.
Gli Azzurri would repeat their success in France four years later.
Just over a decade later, Mussolini was executed by Italian partisans as he faced the consequences of fascism’s defeat in World War II.