In March, Italy’s national football team is set to return to the United States, for the first time in almost 19 years, to play friendly matches with Venezuela and Ecuador. This comes thirty years after Italy lost the World Cup final to Brazil on penalties and nearly a decade since their match against Ecuador in June 2005. These matches are crucial tests for the Italian team as they prepare for Euro 2024, facing two national teams that are gearing up for the next World Cup. The matches will be held on Thursday 21 March and Sunday 24 March respectively, at the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale and Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
Italy’s first match in the United States dates back to 1976, when they participated in the Bicentennial Cup organized by the US federation to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence. The team, led by Fulvio Bernardini and Enzo Bearzot, had a mixed performance, winning their first match against the United States with a 4-0 victory, but losing their subsequent matches against England and Brazil. Their last game in the United States was in June 2005.
During that match, the Italian team, managed by Marcello Lippi, drew 1-1 with Serbia Montenegro, with goals from Zigic and Cristiano Lucarelli. The match served as a testing ground for players who were later selected for the 2006 World Cup, thus setting the stage for their triumph in Berlin. Italy’s national team has a historic record in the United States, having played 16 matches in 7 different stadiums across 7 states, with a record of 7 wins, 6 draws, and 3 losses.
This upcoming match will be Italy’s first encounter with Venezuela in history. The latter has never participated in the World Cup final phase, but this record could soon be broken as they are currently 4th in the South American qualifying group for the 2026 World Cup. Italy has faced Ecuador twice, with a victory in the 2002 World Cup final phase and a draw in a 2005 friendly match. Ecuador has participated in the World Cup four times (2002, 2006, 2014 and 2022), with their best performance in 2006 when they reached the round of 16.