The road to Russia is definitely not easy this time. Earlier, it was Argentina, which was struggling to qualify but somehow made it to Russia.
This time it was Italy. Poor performance in the whole season created a fuss in the end where they couldn't score against Sweden. Eventually, were ousted from the FIFA World Cup 2018. The Azzurri, four-time winners of football's most important trophy, will miss their first World Cup since 1958.
Italy players dejected after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup (AFP)
You might lose your heart in Italy but Italy losing in qualifiers is heartbreaking.
Daniel Pagani, a war correspondent with WION and an Italian, said, "For Italians, it is a 'national tragedy'. Losing to a mediocre side like Sweden is certainly heartbreaking. Every Italian is fond of the game they not only celebrate it but live with it. In Italy, people watch football with friends and family and cherish the memories forever".
FIFA 2018 seems incomplete without Italy but Sweden certainly deserves to enter the world cup as their performance was brilliant in both the legs.
FIFA 2018 seems incomplete without Italy but Sweden certainly deserves to enter the World Cup as their performance was brilliant in both the legs. In yesterday's game, they had 24 per cent possession and only 4 goal attempts, but still, they were able to hold Italian side. Italy underplayed not only in yesterday's game but throughout the season and now joins fellow big guns such as Chile and the Netherlands in missing out on Russia 2018.
Johan Castell, WION correspondent and a Swede, said, "Sweden won! But we are not going to watch the World Cup (because Italy did not qualify). To beat a country whose national game is football is exponentially amazing. In Sweden, every football spectator will become a critic during a football match, so this moment is beyond magical to all Swedish. It seems Sweden is onto setting a new tradition of beating Italy in every 60 years and not letting them enter the World Cup".
Italy, with a very poor tactics, failed to reach next year's World Cup. If Italian team plays the way they did against Sweden then it is a better option to avoid playing in the World Cup. Even with 75 per cent ball possession and 27 goal attempts, they could not score a goal and let the Scandinavians sail through to the qualifiers with an aggregate of 0-1.
What went wrong
In the situation of "do and die" attack was the only option left for Italy but players like Lorenzo Insigne with 6 goals and 5 assists in the season spends 90 minutes on the bench. Even, Andrea Belotti and Stephan El Shaarawy were on the bench when the match started.
Daniele De Rossi snapped on the bench and vented his anger on a staff and also on the coach after the decision was taken to send him on as a substitute rather than Lorenzo Insigne. Later, Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura apologised for World Cup failure.
Digvijay Singh Deo, WION sports editor, who grew up supporting Italy was in distress to see the current schema of Italian Football Federation. He said, "Italy used to be a trendsetter for the football fraternity but its ouster raises question on other important aspects. It's not about yesterday's game but there is a continuous decline in the quality in terms of players and management. Where are the players? Apart from Buffon, there is no one else to name. Italy as a team has tailed off from being the best to good".
After the match Gianluigi Buffon and Daniele De Rossi announced retirement. This was maybe the last chance for Buffon to appear in the world cup.
Argentina also struggled to enter the World Cup but their star player Lionel Messi played his heart out when it was needed the most. But is there anyone in Italy who is like Messi? Where are the great players in Italy? Why did Italy stop producing legends?
After the match Gianluigi Buffon and Daniele De Rossi announced retirement. This was maybe the last chance for Buffon to appear in the World Cup but he lost it. Though he performed exceptionally well in the game as well the season. His tearful exit seems like the end of an era.
After the match Gianluigi Buffon and Daniele De Rossi announced retirement. (AFP)
On Buffon's retirement, Daniele Pagani said, "Players like Buffon doesn't need to prove anything to the world but his retirement on a sad note is heart-rending, it's like Virat Kohli retires after losing against Kenya".
Collectively many things are responsible for Italy's ouster, for instance, it hasn't been able to collect itself from the tragic 3-0 defeat at the Bernabeu against Spain in September not just that it's also about their continuous decline in their game quality since 2008.
Italian Football Federation now have enough time to think that what went wrong. Whether it was coach Ventura's mistake or the whole system is somewhere to be blamed for the devastating and heartbreaking ouster of Italy.