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When did Italy last play at a World Cup?

6:13 AM EDT 3/25/22
Joao Pedro Italy North Macedonia 2022
The Azzurri are stalwarts of football's biggest event, but they face an unprecedented wait to qualify for another FIFA tournament

Football fans across the planet were left stunned when North Macedonia halted Italy on their journey towards World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

Having reached a professional summit by guiding the Azzurri to Euro 2020 glory less than a year previously, Robert Mancini described the 2022 play-off elimination as "the biggest disappointment" of his career.

Their last-minute defeat came at the hands of Aleksandar Trajkovski and condemned Italy to unprecedented heartbreak. As they miss out on a unique tournament in Qatar, when was the last time Italy actually played in a World Cup? GOAL takes a look.

When did Italy last play at a World Cup?

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was the last time Italy played in the prestigious international FIFA tournament.

Their elimination in the 2022 World Cup play-off by North Macedonia means the next World Cup they can potentially qualify for is the 2026 edition, which is being held in United States, Mexico and Canada.

Therefore, over a decade will pass before they can return to the game's pinnacle.

How did Italy do when they last played in a World Cup?

Italy's last World Cup experience in 2014 was not a happy one as they were knocked out at the group stage.

The Azzurri finished third in Group D, behind Costa Rica and Uruguay, having managed just one win across three games.

Rank

Team

P

W

D

L

Pts

1

Costa Rica

3

2

1

0

7

2

Uruguay

3

2

0

1

6

3

Italy

3

1

0

2

3

4

England

3

0

1

2

1

Then managed by Cesare Prandelli, Italy beat England in their opening group match, but things soured thereafter as they suffered narrow losses against Costa Rica and Uruguay, with the game against the latter producing the infamous Luis Suarez-Giorgio Chiellini biting incident.

While Group D undoubtedly posed a difficult task, Italy's elimination was nevertheless a major shock as the team had reached the final of Euro 2012 two years earlier, when they were undone by a swashbuckling Spain side that is widely regarded as being among the best of all time.

The squad that went to Brazil featured many players who were in their prime years, including Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Mario Balotelli, as well as seasoned veterans like Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo.

What is Italy's overall World Cup record?

Year

Host

Final position

1930

Uruguay

Did not enter

1934

Uruguay

Champions

1938

Italy

Champions

1950

Brazil

Group stage

1954

Switzerland

Group stage

1958

Sweden

Did not qualify

1962

Chile

Group stage

1966

England

Group stage

1970

Mexico

Runners-up

1974

West Germany

Group stage

1978

Argentina

Fourth place

1982

Spain

Champions

1986

Mexico

Last 16

1990

Italy

Third place

1994

United States

Runners-up

1998

France

Quarter-final

2002

Japan & Korea

Last 16

2006

Germany

Champions

2010

South Africa

Group stage

2014

Brazil

Group stage

2018

Russia

Did not qualify

2022

Qatar

Did not qualify

Italy have won the World Cup four times and they are one of the most successful teams in the history of the competition.

Their first World Cup triumph came in 1934 and they retained the title four years later on home soil in 1938. They ended a four-decade-plus wait for gold in 1982 and won their fourth trophy in 2006.

Italy have also finished runners-up in the tournament twice - in 1970 and 1994, losing to Brazil on each of those occasions.

They have failed to qualify for just three out of 21 tournaments they entered (they did not enter the inaugural competition in 1930).