The Team: The 1994 Italian National Team would come closer to winning the World Cup, which was held in the US, than any other squad in the history of the tournament only to see their dreams dashed on penalties in the Final by (yet again) Brazil. The team still featured some amazing players though, including the amazing Roberto Baggio.
Italy’s coach Arrigo Sacchi also had Paolo Maldini, Dino Baggio, Daniele Massaro, and Gianluca Pagliuca on his roster. Once again, the team featured players from only a handful of Serie A’s best teams. Milan had the most representatives with seven, but Parma, Juventus, Sampdoria, Lazio, Inter and Torino all also had players selected for the tourney.
The Tournament: Italy actually struggled mightily in the group stage and it tied with the other three teams at four points (the only time this has ever occurred in World Cup history). Thus, Italy only advanced due to goal differential. In the knockout stage, it looked like Nigeria would eliminate the Azzurri, but two late goals from Baggio saved them.
After beating Spain and Bulgaria, Italy faced Ronaldo’s Brazil for the title. Baggio had scored 5 goals in 3 games prior to the Final, but neither he nor Ronaldo could find the net and the game ended 0-0. By a 3-2 margin, Brazil won the Cup on penalties after Baggio missed his shot. It was disappointing for the team, but I still think they are #5 all-time.