From Gigi Riva to Nicolò Barella and Alessio Cragno. There is a red and blue thread that unites Italy’s very distant first match in Cagliari, Italy-Switzerland in 1967, with the one scheduled for Friday night between the Azzurri and San Marino. A pride to host the national team but also a pride to be able to see players who have a history in the rossoblù jersey on the pitch. The match against the small national team of the Republic of Titano will be the sixth match hosted in the Sardinian capital.
Italy 4-0 Switzerland, 1967. The debut was in the pre-Christmas eve of 1967 in the small Amsicora stadium. The managers brought the Azzurri to Cagliari to pay homage to the rising star of Italian football, Gigi Riva. Race valid for the European qualifiers that Italy will win the following year. Net score 4-0 with a goal, the second, by Riva himself, while Mazzola had opened the scoring. To round off the score, Angelo Domenghini’s brace, still in force at Inter but who would arrive in Cagliari two years later.
Italy 1-2 Spain, 1971. The game of oranges. On February 20 in the friendly match of Sant’Elia Ferruccio Valcareggi not even one player from Cagliari (especially Domenghini) take the field. And the angry public cheers Spain, who wins, and at the end of the match greets the players with a large throw of oranges.
Italy 0-0 Argentina, 1989. The challenge to Valcareggi costs an almost twenty-year “disqualification” in Cagliari, which sees the national team on 21 December 1989. It is a luxury friendly against Maradona’s Argentina, in the second half the current coach Mancini also plays. The two teams will meet again in the painful semifinal of Italia ’90, in which Vicini’s blues will be eliminated by the South Americans, while at Sant’Elia little to nothing happens if not a big party for the fans who are sold out.
Italy 2-2 Switzerland, 1992. On the other hand, a lot happens on October 14th in the qualifiers for USA ’94, in which Arrigo Sacchi’s men will reach the final. The Swiss go straight to 2-0 and lead with this score up to 7 ‘from the end. Then a magic by Baggio in the 83rd minute and Eranio’s goal at the end of the match gave an unexpected 2-2.
Italy 5-0 Russia, 2005. The new friendly, on 9 February, celebrates the definitive retirement from Cagliari of the Riva jersey number 11, long-time manager accompanying the national team and Rossoblù and Azzurri legend at Sant’Elia. Lippi’s Italy, world champion the following year, won 2-0 with goals from Barone and Gilardino. Also playing the “Cagliari” Ciccio Esposito and Antonio “Arrogutottu” Langella, who comes close to scoring, heroes of Cagliari of those years.