81st Minute – Raimundo Orsi, Italy v Czechoslovakia 1934 World Cup Final
Italy won the right to host the World Cup in 1932 and Mussolini’s fascist regime spent two years promoting and organising the World Cup. 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 full stadiums, only the games featuring Italy had full houses. The Italian team had mixed results in the lead up to the 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 a winger called Raimundo Orsi who had moved to Juventus in 1928 after impressing in the Olympic games that same year. Another Argentine was on the other wing too. In addition to the Argentines they had one of the greatest Italian (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 which had got Italy to the final and the stage was set for Mussolini and the Italians to celebrate. However the final was 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 got better 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.
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.
6:26 for the goal…but the whole piece of film is obviously worth watching.
What Happened Next?
Italy were buoyed by the equaliser and had a penalty decision go in their favour too before they won it in extra time. Gli Azzurri would repeat their success in France four years later and Mussolini’s ego would get the better of him as he led Italy to defeat in World War II.