The Match by Piero Trellini – Review

The Match – Piero Trellini review logo

By Karl Hornsey

As a devoted connoisseur of the 1982 World Cup, a tournament that has held a curious fascination for me since childhood, I thought I knew all there was to know about the iconic Brazilian team, and therefore the infamous and classic match against Italy that ended their dreams of glory. But, upon reading Piero Trellini’s remarkable The Match, it seems I knew almost nothing about it all in comparison. In short, this is an utterly remarkable piece of work by the Italian writer.

To call it a sports book or to expect that it limits itself to 90 minutes of football – albeit 90 of the most memorable minutes of football ever played – would be doing it an enormous disservice. This is an homage to a bygone era, the most in-depth account of the before, during and after of any sporting occasion I’ve ever come across, written in a style that is so far removed from anything I’ve ever read before.

At just over 500 pages long, this is an epic. And the fact that the description of events on the pitch in the match in question doesn’t come along until more than 350 pages in, demonstrates the fastidious and methodical build-up that Trellini employs to set the scene.


The Match – Piero Trellini review coverBeing Italian, it’s understandable that Trellini focuses more on the Italians than the Brazilians, but this is mainly to paint the wider scene of what was happening in Italy at the time, from a political perspective, but mainly from a journalistic one, taking the reader behind the scenes of those who effectively ran the country, and who criticised the players to the extent that they almost all refused to speak to the press during the tournament. That Trellini manages this without taking sides or being critical makes this account all the more incredible and, thankfully, my beloved Brazil side aren’t neglected either, with still plenty of focus on their players and coach, and analysis of a mindset that ultimately proved their downfall.

Having read many hundreds of sports books over the years, I’ve genuinely never come across one like this, and it’s clear to see why Sky have subsequently used it as the basis of their recent documentary about the match ahead of the last World Cup. It truly is astonishing and makes you think that reading anything by Trellini on any subject under the sun would be almost as fascinating. If nothing else, I’m even more armed with knowledge about my fantasy ‘Mastermind specialist subject’, but I finished The Match truly blown away by the level of research and how Trellini then transformed so many random pieces of information and threads into such a readable and definitive work of art.

‘The Match: The Story of Italy v Brazil 1982’ by Piero Trellini is published by Pitch Publishing, £25 hardback


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