The Team: In 1978, Italy sent one of its most talented World Cup squads ever to Argentina to compete for soccer’s (and all of the sporting world’s) most coveted trophy. The team was led by legendary striker Paolo Rossi and stoic goalkeeper Dino Zoff, but coach Enzo Bearzot also had several other Italian soccer heroes on his intimidating roster.
For example, from Juventus alone Bearzot had nine Italian all-stars, including Marco Tardelli, Claudio Gentile and Roberto Bettaga. He could also select players from several other Serie A powerhouses of that era, including Torino. All in all, the 1978 squad was a young team and featured many players appearing in their first World Cup.
The Tournament: Italy received an extremely tough draw as it was placed in the same group as France, Hungary and the Argentine hosts. The young Italian team surprised many observers when it won all three games, including besting Argentina (who would eventually be the 1978 champions) by a 1-0 score on a thrilling Bettaga strike.
After beating Austria to start Round 2, the Italians lost a heartbreaker to a legendary Dutch side due to an unfortunate own goal and were eliminated. After taking a first half lead in the third place match against Brazil, they fell apart and finished fourth. It was a disappointing end, but it was also a young team, so I think they belong at #8.