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Serie A stars in the World Cup, 1934 / The Italian dream team led by bad boys Meazza and Ferraris
SERIE A STARS IN THE WORLD CUP. Azzurri won the second World Cup edition. A fantastic side with many football talents. Meazza is still remembered as one of the greatest ever; Schiavio was his partner and Ferraris a brilliant playmaker
by Federico Formica
Italy was the first European country to host a World Cup, and the first European team to win it. That talented side would have repeated that achievement four years later in France, demonstrating how the home-field win wasn't a consequence of the Fascist Party's pressure, that in those days dominated the country. The only shady event happened in the repetition of the quarter final against Spain (the first game ended 1-1 after the extra time and penalties were not contemplated yet), a game that the legendary Spaniard goalkeeper Zamora misteriously deserted.

After an almost all-American World Cup in 1930, in 1934 all the Danubian national teams finally participated: there were Austria, with Sindelar and Horvath, Hungary – a good side whose golden age was still to come – and Czechoslovakia, a team that included players such as Planicka, Puc and Svoboda, and that was beaten by the Azzurri in the final. Unfortunately, the previous World Cup finalists were absent. The defending champions of Uruguay – that hosted the 1930 edition - didn't go in spite of Italy, which didn't participate four years before, while Argentina went with an amateur team to get by the rip-off of their Italian-Argentinian stronger players (exactly what happened for Luis Monti and Raimundo Orsi).

Italy's win was an extraordinary vehicle for Fascist propaganda as the regime was trying to create a sense of national communion in a parochial country. But the team led by Vittorio Pozzo was a hugely talented side, that deserved the glorious cup it raised.

Giuseppe Meazza, 1910-1979. 53 caps, 33 goals for Italy, World Champion 1934 and 1938.
For who was born after the 80s, Giuseppe Meazza is the name of the most important Italian stadium, the one where Inter and Milan perform. Such an honor was saved for the first footballer-idol in the history of Italian football. Meazza enjoyed the pleasures of life and his hair combed with grease made the Italian girls fall in love with him, but he was – above all – one of the strongest strikers ever born in Italy, although his immense technical skills allowed him to play also as attacking midfielder and winger. He was chosen as best player of the 1934 World Cup, when he scored twice. One goal in the 7-1 to United States (round of 16), and the other in the quarter final against Spain, when he scored the winner.

Meazza was the National team's best goal scorer up to 1973 September 29, when Gigi Riva scored the 34th goal in Azzurro (he stopped at 35). Apart from the Nazionale, Meazza's name is strictly tied to Internazionale (whose name during Fascism was Ambrosiana). In Nerazzurro he scored 246 goals, winning two Scudetti and the title of best goal scorer for three times. He was also the Serie A entrant who scored the most in Serie A (31 goals in his first season) when he was 20. Il Balilla played for the other team of his city as well: Milan. He was a rossonero from '40 to '42, but he only scored 9 goals, as soon after the 1938 World Cup he suffered a rare injury due to a circulatory problem to his foot. De facto, he played at high-levels until his 28.

Angelo Schiavio, 1905-1990. 21 caps, 15 goals for Italy, World Champion 1934.
A goal that earns a World Cup. Can you imagine a best farewell to your national team? Angelo Schiavio ended his brief and intense Azzurro career scoring the winner against Czechoslovakia in the World Cup of 1934 in the extra time. In that tournament Schiavio scored other three goals in the round of 16: all to United States in the ruthless 7-1 win. At the end, he was the second top goal scorer behind the Czechoslovakian Nejedly. His score in the Nazionale is astonishing: 21 caps, 15 goals. Even more glorious were the years with Bologna, the side of his home town, the only jersey he ever wore apart from that of the Nazionale.


With the Rossoblu Schiavio scored 242 goals. A decisive contribution to the 4 Italian titles he won in the Emilian city. Schiavio was the top goal scorer in the 1931-32 season. Oddly, he had an awful relationship with another great Azzurro, the Italian-argentinian Luis Monti (we talked about him in the previous episode). In a Juventus-Bologna game, Monti stepped on Schiavio's knee when he was on the ground. The diplomatic Vittorio Pozzo, coach of the Nazionale, managed to repair their relationship. Both were essential for the 1934 victory.

Attilio Ferraris, 1904-1947. 28 caps, 0 goals for Italy, World Champion 1934.
Competitiveness, power and style. The Italian coach Vittorio Pozzo really needed such skills for the 1934 World Cup and convinced Attilio Ferraris to get back in shape and throw away the cigarettes, although he had already decided to quit playing football. He only had to return to be an athlete for two weeks, the time necessary for the World Cup to be played to the final. Ferraris was the first Roma player to wear the Azzurri jersey, he was the most complete player in Italy's midfield line: he had more technical skills than Luis Monti and was phisically stronger than Luigi Bertolini. His path in the World Cup started in the repetition of the quarter final against Spain. He replaced Pizziolo, who was injured.

From then on, Pozzo didn't dare to take him out of the pitch. The World Cup challenge, which he won, convinced him to keep on playing. After almost 200 games with Roma – he was the first captain of the Giallorossi – he moved to the rivals of Lazio, where he played for two season before signing for Bari, then Roma again and, finally, Catania. Ferraris' one was the opposite of what we mean with “sportsman life”: he smoked, he stayed out late and he loved to gamble, an activity that drained him much of the money he earned as a world class player. He often said: “I wish I could have again all the money I wasted gambling... to spend it gambling again!”.

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