1934 World Cup, Italy
The 1934 World Cup provided an ominous taster for the Berlin '36 Olympics, as Musssolini's Italy hosted the tournament in Europe for the first time. "Il Duce" had confidently stated that defeat was out of the question, but with no footballing "Jesse Owens" lurking in the wings, Italy certainly had the team to deliver on this promise.
Holders Uruguay irked by the poor turnout by European nations when they had hosted the tournament, decided against making the trip, but Brazil, the USA and Argentina ventured across the Atlantic. Argentina sent what amounted to a reserve team, as a protest against Italy poaching three of their leading players (FIFA's rules about eligibility used to be far less stringent).
After thrashing USA 7-1 in the opening match, Italy needed a relay against Spain in the quarter-finals, then beat "Wunderteam" Austria 1-0 to earn a final berth against a Czechoslovakia team who had beaten Germany in their half of the draw. In what now seems characteristic for the Italians, the final was a cagey affair, remaining deadlocked until the Czech Antonin Puc scored in the 71st minute. Italy equalised to take the game to extra time, where Angelo Schiavo scored the decisive goal that fulfilled Mussolini's prediction.