End of an era for Italy as they failed to qualify for first World Cup in 60 years
November 13, 2017, will go down in history as one of Italy’s darkest nights after the Azzurri failed to overturn a one-goal deficit in their World Cup play-offs tie against Sweden. Italy couldn’t find the back of the net over 180 minutes of football, meaning Jakob Johansson’s first-leg winner was enough to send Sweden to Russia.
Coach Gian Piero Ventura, who replaced Antonio Conte as Italian manager, made a questionable team selection and curious tactics, but he will almost certainly be sacked after this terrible performance. Ventura could only lead the Azzurri to a second-place finish in their World Cup qualifying group G, finishing five points behind group winners Spain. It’s difficult to imagine that the 69-year-old coach will get another job in a football-obsessed country like Italy. The Italians are four-time World Cup winners and now have missed out on their first World Cup since 1958. The last major competitions the Italians missed were the 1984 and 1992 European Championships.
The Swedes, on the other hand, celebrated and it will definitely be a huge party after they booked their place in Russia. As for Italians, their icons in the shape of Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Daniele De Rossi struggled to hold back the tears.
Andrea Barzagli marked this moment as the biggest disappointment of his life.
“In football terms, it’s the biggest disappointment of my life. The Italy side gives you unique sensations. It gives you goosebumps, creates friendships among all the Italy fans, they are finally united. It’s a real shame to end like this,” he told to Rai Sport.
Gianluigi Buffon, one of the best goalkeepers of his generation said “We failed something that could’ve been truly important for the country.
That is the only regret I have and certainly not that I am finishing my career, because time passes and it’s only right.”
One of Italy’s best defenders for the last eight years, Giorgio Chiellini, is another player who called his retirement last night.
“I am certain that if what we saw tonight can be built on, it will be seen as a zero hour.
“Italy hadn’t missed the World Cup in 60 years, so clearly it’s a sea change. Football belongs to everyone and we all want to create a new era.”
The Roma captain, Daniele De Rossi added: “It’s a dark moment for our football, very dark for those of us who were part of this two-year era.”