Brazil 2014: Italy Must Honor The Grande Torino

By Riccardo Di Julio
Gianluigi Buffon
Offside Sports-USA TODAY Sports

In the summer of 2014, Brazil will host a Soccer World Cup for the second time in history. The first one, held in 1950, represented a new beginning for the entire world, considering that it was the first edition after World War II. For this reason, it is still recognized as one of the most relevant events in the history of sports, because it helped many populations around the world to finally wake up from the dark years of the war.

However, the overall positivism of the event was not spread out among all teams that participated in it. As a matter of fact, a very unfortunate tragedy of the previous year prevented the Italian National Team to approach the tournament at its best.

The catastrophic episode, commonly known as the Superga air disaster, killed 31 men, 18 of which were players belonging to the Torino soccer team that was returning from a friendly match in Portugal in an airplane that crashed into the Superga hill due to the poor conditions of visibility resulted from a thunderstorm.

Moreover, for those who don’t know, the Torino of that time was very different from the one of today, considering that it was, by far, Italy’s strongest team. In fact, it is not a coincidence that it’s still today referred as the Grande Torino, which dominated the Serie A for several years, both during and after the war.

Furthermore, most of its players were also the main stars of the national team, which was one of best teams in the world. Without any doubt, by relying on the Granata stars, Italy was among the main candidates for the title in Brazil 1950, which would have been the third World Cup triumph for the Azzurri in only four editions of the tournament.

Of course, the final victory in Brazil was not guaranteed by only having a strong team. For this reason, it is a mistake to assume that Italy was going to win that World Cup for sure. However, the truth is that this tragedy completely destroyed any dream that Italy had of performing well in the competition, not only because it killed the best players, but also, and more especially, because of the emotional harm caused to the entire country.

As a matter of fact, it is only enough to consider that the team was so shocked by the incident that they decided to travel to Brazil in a ship rather than in an airplane. As a consequence, while other nations approached the tournament with a good preparation, the Azzurri were forced to train on the ship while going through the ocean. Nonetheless, the practices rapidly stopped after a few days when the players ran out of balls, as they had all fallen into the water. As a result of all this, Italy did not perform well and was eliminated out of the World Cup in the group stage.

Excluding unexpected tragedies, Italy is now preparing for a whole new adventure in Brazil in a very different context than 63 years ago. As a matter of fact, besides the obvious dream of achieving the fifth title in history, which is mandatory for the Azzurri in every edition of the World Cup, this time, the players will have the extra responsibility to honor, as best as they can, the memory of the Grande Torino, whose men unfortunately did not get a chance to compete in 1950. For Italy, undoubtedly, their memory makes of Brazil 2014 a much more important edition than the others.

Riccardo Di Julio is a Soccer Writer for Follow him on Twitter @Italcatenaccio and add him to your network on Google.

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