If you were searching for proof of the Spanish Federation’s commitment to making España 82 as culturally representative as possible, then Vigo made up an important piece of the jigsaw. Situated on Spain’s north-west coast, just 20 miles from Portugal, the city’s senior team Real Club Celta de Vigo, had some first division pedigree, but had spent much of the past decade hoping between the top two divisions. Vigo would be the base for the Italian national squad for their first round matches, and whilst the city and Italy’s travelling support ensured that the games would be well attended, the quality of football was lacklustre at best. More Group of Dearth than Group of Death.
Celta’s stadium had originally opened in 1928, but was extensively rebuilt in the late 1960’s. The only part of the stadium that pre-dated the rebuild was the low south stand, which was the main focus of attention in the lead up to España 82. Throughout its time at Balaidos, Celta had experienced problems with the Rio Lagares flooding. The redevelopment offered the opportunity to resolve the issue when the river was re-routed through a deep channel in the foundations of the new south stand. This twin decker was almost twice as high as the north and east tribuna and looked oddly out of place with the rest of the stadium. The remaining three sides were refurbished and seats installed in all but the lower tier of the east stand, reducing the capacity to 33,000, 30,000 of which was seated. New changing rooms were also built under the Gol stand and were accessed via an entrance on the semi circle of turf behind the west goal. You can read much more about the Estadio Balaidos and Celta Vigo here.
ITALY vs POLAND
This match seemed to set the tone for what was to follow in Vigo, namely cautious, tight matches of few chances. Italy arrived in Spain still under the cloud of the Totonero scandal, but had the returning Paolo Rossi to bolster their attack. Poland brought a side to Spain that had a good mixture of experience and younger talent, but did little to test Dino Zoff in the Italian goal, who was making his 100th international appearance. the best chance of the game fell to Marco Tardelli, who struck the bar 10 minutes from time. In fact, there was little on show to suggest that either team would burst into life in the latter stages of the tournament.
ITALY vs PERU
More cautious football, but at least the spectators were treated to some goals this time. Bruno Conti opened the scoring with a fantastic turn and strike on 18 minutes, whilst Peru were denied an obvious penalty following Claudio Gentile’s trip on Oblitas. Rossi, who was struggling with match fitness, was replaced at half time by Franco Causio. Peru were the better team in the second half and they were rewared 6 minutes from time, when Diaz shot took a huge deflection on route to goal.
CAMEROON vs ITALY
With Cameroon needing a win and Italy a draw, this final match in Vigo was a tense affair. N’Kono in the Cameroon goal added to his reputation with a string of great saves, but could do little about Graziani’s well placed looping header on the hour. Within a minute, Cameroon had equalised, although M’Bida’s scrambled effort did look offside. Rather than push for the win, Cameroon became more defensive, which suited Italy just fine, as they progressed through to the next stage, but would face much harder opponents than group winners Poland.