Italy Misses World Cup for First Time Since 1958

Gianluigi Buffon, Daniele De Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli all said they would retire from international duty after Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup on Monday
disappointed and sad, Italy Squad after losing the chance to enter World Cup Russia 2018.disappointed and sad, Italy Squad after losing the chance to enter World Cup Russia 2018.

For the first time since 1958, Italy will not be going to the FIFA World Cup. Sweden held on to force a goalless draw in the second leg of European zone play-off tie at the San Siro Stadium in Milan to defeat the Italians 1-0 on aggregate and secure a berth in World Cup Russia next year.

Despite creating the majority of the chances in the match and dominating in possession, Italy lacked the cutting edge they needed to find a goal, while Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen and captain Andreas Granqvist did enough to help their nation into their first World Cup since Germany 2006.

The crowd at the San Siro, over 70,000 fans, created an intense atmosphere which resulted in a frenetic and tense 90 minutes, FIFA website reported.

Antonio Candreva had the first real chance of the match when he ran on to a cut-back pass sent in by Ciro Immobile, but his shot flew just an inch over Olsen’s crossbar. Olsen then made the biggest save of the half when he came off his line to make a crucial intervention from a close-range Immobile shot.

The anxiety levels went up to an entirely different level in the second half. As expected, Italy continued to dominate possession but Janne Andersson’s members were able to thwart any attacks Giampiero Ventura’s men attempted.

Alessandro Florenzi tried an audacious volley that went a foot wide of Olsen’s post, while Immobile came close at the near post but, ultimately, the Azzurri found no solutions to get back into the tie, and will miss out on the world finals for the first time in 60 years.

  Buffon’s Swan Song

For Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, defeat against Sweden brought down the curtain on a wonderful career at international level.

An appearance at Russia 2018 would have seen the 39-year-old equal the record of five World Cups, a mark previously reached by Mexico goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal and Germany midfielder Lothar Matthaus.

Instead the Juventus icon, who was recently named winner of The Best FIFA Goalkeeper Award, was left to bid an emotional farewell to the international stage after 20 years.

“I’m not sorry for myself but all of the Italian football movement,” said Buffon. “We failed with our aim, which could have also been really important on a social level. This is the only regret that I have, even if my last game coincides with failure to qualify for the World Cup.”

Buffon is comfortably Italy’s most-capped player with 175 appearances amid a host of other distinctions achieved since his debut in 1997. He was a key figure in 2006, when Italy won the World Cup for a fourth time.

“We have pride and strength, we’re stubborn and after the tough falls we find the way to get back up again,” Buffon added.

 Three More Farewells

In addition, Daniele De Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli all said they would retire from international duty after Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup on Monday.

De Rossi, 34, scored 21 international goals over his career, and his 117th cap on Monday moved him past Andrea Pirlo into fourth place on Italy’s all-time appearance list.

“It’s a dark moment for our football, very dark for those of us who were part of this two-year era,” De Rossi said. “There will be the time to evaluate everything, but I think the only thing I can say now - which is banal - is to build on the spirit the lads showed today and the desire to take part in this adventure.

“We will begin again, just as we did after other desperately disappointing moments. I don’t believe we deserved to go out considering the 180 minutes, Sweden deserves credit for its performance, but it was fairly even,” he added.

Chiellini, 33, made 96 appearances for Italy, and the defender found the net eight times, and he encouraged fans to embrace the next generation of players.

“We have many young lads who over the next few years will need this same love and support,” he said. “It’s a long road ahead and after a fall like this there is much work to be done”.

Barzagli, 36, said it was an “end of an era” after he appeared in 73 international games.

“In football terms, it’s the biggest disappointment of my life,” he said. “I don’t know what we missed, all I know is we’re out of the World Cup, it’s a unique disappointment and leaving this group of lads is painful.”

Italy is one of the most successful national teams in the history of the World Cup, having won four titles 1934, 1938, 1982, 2006 and appearing in two other finals 1970, 1994, reaching a third place in 1990 and a fourth place in 1978.

The Italians have also won a European Championship, 1968, as well as appearing in two other finals 2000, 2012. Italy’s highest finish at the FIFA Confederations Cup was in 2013, when the squad achieved a third-place finish.


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