Classic if there is one, Italy-Germany it embodies a good part of the history of ours National of soccer, a match that for the blue colors brings to mind some of the most beautiful and winning moments. Today we see how it all began in that first challenge almost 100 years ago.
ITALY IN THE 1920s – After the long interlude of the First World War, the championship resumes in Italy and the national team officially gets back on the road. The early 1920s were difficult years, even participation in the Olympic tournament in Antwerp in 1920 was lacking in satisfaction. It is a national team that struggles to find the right technical guide, the Technical Commission changes at every game and is an expression of the confusion of ideas that also reigns in the Federation. It would be better to write that confusion reigned almost everywhere in Italy in those years, in football as well as in political and social life. These are the years of the double football championship and the “Red Biennium” which overwhelms the already torn political and social fabric of post-war Italy and which will lead to the “March on Rome”.
However, the Olympic tournament in Antwerp marks a turning point in some way. In fact, with the two-year period 1921-22, the Italian national team achieved some prestigious results, such as the first victory in France, the comeback victory from 0-2 to 2-3 in Belgium and the spectacular draw in the first match with Austria since the end of the war. By now the national team, strengthened by a new generation of players, can confront without fear with the strongest representatives of the continent, and it is with this conviction that prepares to meet Germany on New Year’s Day 1923.
THE BEGINNINGS OF THE FUSSBALLNATIONALMANNSCHAFT – Early football in Germany necessarily suffers from the political fragmentation of the Länder, each of which has local leagues. From the political-football point of view, eighty-six German football clubs in January 1900 in Leipzig they give life to the Deutscher Fußball-Bund, the German football federation. Already in July 1899, during a sporting event held in Leipzig, discussions about the possibility of creating a national football federation had begun: from that discussion and the subsequent ones, therefore, we arrive at 28 January 1900 at the foundation of the DFB with first president Ferdinand Hueppe . The German national team made its official debut in April 1908 when in Basel they played a friendly match against Switzerland, losing 5 to 3. In reality, already between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th some German selections had played unofficial matches against as many English selections, but it is with the 1908 match in Basel that the history of the German national team officially begins. First appointment of a certain international importance – moreover the same also for Italy – the participation in the Olympic Games of 1912. Germany participates in the Olympic tournament in Sweden in 1912: defeated by Austria in the preliminary round, Germany has to settle for the tournament of consolation – like Italy – where in the semifinals she was defeated by Hungary. If the post-war period for Germany is tragic and extremely difficult, it is certainly no better for the national football team. The country came out with broken bones from World War I, the issue of payment of reparations and related costs imposed by the victorious allies is a boulder for German politics, society and the economy. The letter dated 11 November 1922 that the Ambassador in Berlin Frassati sent to Mussolini, who had recently become President of the Council of Ministers, perfectly describes the German drama.:
“The financial dissolution of Germany proceeds inexorably its course. More than dissolution it is now a collapse. The violent swings of the currency of thousands of points per day; torrents of paper money and vouchers rampant from the State Workshops (60 billion marks 61 vouchers in the last week alone); the state debt has risen to such heights that astronomical numbers are now needed to represent it (4 million billion). (…) Immediate consequences of the storm the cost of living rose to fantastic prices (in the month from September to October alone the increase
was 67%); and with the spread of misery and the specter of hunger ahead
the spread of that nervousness, that sense of unease and that hope of
liberating novelties that have always been the harbingers of great catastrophes throughout history
social and political“.
Especially inflation – which will become hyperinflation in 1923 – has devastating effects in Germanyan aspect by no means secondary, if combined with the French occupation of the Ruhr, in the growth of nationalist revanchism that will lead, in the medium future, to the impressive rise of Adolf Hitler.
ITALY-GERMANY – Allied nations until May 1915 then enemies during the Great War, Italy and Germany meet on a football field for the first time in their history on Monday, January 1, 1923, in Milan (photo The Sunday of the Courier). The match was preceded at Christmas by the friendly match played by the national team in Novi Ligure. Unlike the other times, not a useful match to select the starting eleven, but a friendly match played to test the formation that would have met Germany. The Germans, who arrived on 31 December from Verona to Milan by train, were greeted at the central station by a large representation of Italian football: among others, the president of the Lega Nord Baruffini, Umberto Meazza of the Technical Commission and Renzo De Vecchi, captain of the national team, accompany the Germans to the Hotel Terminus for the customary pleasantries.
Italy and Germany, therefore, take the field on Monday 1 January. The first half that ends on 0 to 0 has seen good opportunities on both sides, but it is the recovery that gives the most intense emotions. Italy still started strong, but soon the best physical prowess of the Germans prevailed and Germany took over, so much so that at 72nd Seiderer took the Germans ahead, silencing the stadium. The “whipping” – to put it as Ettore Berra will tell it on Paese Sportivo – is healthy, so much so that the Azzurri try to recover: Italy manages to equalize after 7 minutes with Cevenini III, taking advantage of an indecision of the German goalkeeper. The public is revived and pushes the national team towards the company. First Santamaria at 85th and then Migliavacca at 89th set the final score at 3-1 for Italy.
The victory over Germany from a purely footballing point of view allows Italy to continue in the long and prestigious winning streak, while more generally it allows certain political sentiments to be exalted by a part of journalism. Particularly interesting is how the Guerin Sportsman full-page headlines in the January 5 issue: “Uber Alles that played! Italy overwhelms the Germanic squadron in a fascist style! ” and to comment: “(…) Sunday’s in Milan is morally the most beautiful victory that Italy could wish for. (…) We wanted the confrontation and we went to look for it, and we did not do like France which – fossilized in war relics – systematically refused to meet its former enemies …. January 1st 1923, Italy, with its daring and generous spirit, inflicted more than a defeat on Germany, a lesson on France!“.
In Italy everything is changing a bit and football, as we all know, will not remain immune.
(Alessandro Bassi is also on http://storiedifootballperduto.blogspot.it/)
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