Italy returns to Cagliari: on Friday 28 May the Azzurri will face San Marino at Sardegna Arena, in a friendly to prepare European Championship, scheduled from 11 June to 11 July. The match will be a starting point in the preparation of the men of the coach Roberto Mancini for the continental tournament.
Sardegna Arena will be the scene for the second time of a match played by an italian XI: on 11 September 2018 the stadium hosted the friendly match between Italy and Albania Under 21 (3-1, with goals from Dimarco, Murgia and Parigini).
The last time of Italy in Sardinia was on February 9, 2005, for a friendly against Russia. Italy won 2-0 with goals from Gilardino and Barone, but most of all it was an evening dedicated to Gigi Riva, still Italy’s top scorer with 35 goals netted in 42 games and at the time team manager of the Azzurri, a position he held until 2013.
On that occasion, in a festive atmosphere, the Rossoblù number 11 was withdrawn, which Gigi had been able to honour like no other.
Previously, Italy had performed in Cagliari four more times: the first, on December 23, 1967, for a match valid for the 1968 European Championship qualifiers. At Amsicora, Italy-Switzerland finished 4-0, double by Domenghini and goals from Mazzola and Riva. It was a lucky stop on the Azzurri’s path to the victory of the continental title, gained in the Rome’s final against Yugoslavia thanks to goals from Riva and Anastasi. The glorious Cagliari stadium returned to being the seat of an Italian XI match after eleven years: in fact, on 8 December 1956, the Italy B had net Spain in a friendly (1-0 the score to the Iberians).
Sant’Elia hosted the friendlies against Spain (20 February 1971, 1-2, for the Azzurri goal scored by De Sisti) and Argentina led by Maradona (21 December 1989, 0-0), while on 14 October 1992 Italy and Switzerland took the field for their debut in qualifying games for the 1994 World Cup. A thrilling match: Italy led by Arrigo Sacchi on the bench was 0-2 under with 7’ from the end, yet managed to close the gap first with Roberto Baggio and right in the 90’ to grab an unexpected draw thanks to a great goal from Eranio.