Disaster for Italy as Azzurri knocked out of World Cup before it begins

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    Despite plenty of chances, Italy has been sent packing from the FIFA World Cup, unable to secure the goal they needed in the second leg of their play-off against Sweden.

    After dropping the first leg away from home 1-0 thanks to a 61st minute Jakob Johansson goal, Italy needed to win 1-0 during the second leg to send the tie into extra-time. Instead, the Azzurri held to a frustrating scoreless draw at home – one that will rule them out of the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958.

    Despite 64 per cent possession and ten shots on goal in the first leg, Italy failed to score away from home and things didn’t improve when they returned to the San Siro.

    It was even worse in the second leg for the Azzurri, who simply couldn’t finish off any of their opportunities. Italy had 77 per cent possession and 23 shots at goal, six of them on target, with seven corners, but still couldn’t put one past Sweden, who defended excellently throughout both legs of the play-off.

    Italy, who are currently ranked 15th in the world, had an ordinary qualification campaign, finishing second in their group. It sent them to the play-off and heads are sure to roll after the lacklustre performance against the Swedes.

    The result will almost certainly see the end of manager Gianpiero Ventura, while the loss marks the end of superstar goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon’s time in the national team.

    “I’m not sorry for myself but all of Italian football. We failed at something which also means something on a social level. There’s regret at finishing like that, not because time passes,” Buffon said after the result.

    However, the veteran keeper said the future was bright for the Azzurri.

    “We have pride, strength and we’re stubborn. We know how to get back up again as we’ve always done. I’m leaving an Italy side that will know how to speak for itself. Hugs to everyone, especially those I’ve shared this wonderful journey with.”

    The 0-0 draw saw the continuation of an unusual quirk in World Cup qualifying. As per ESPN’s Dale Johnson, the last six qualifiers across the globe have finished scoreless:

    Sweden were rated almost no chance of progressing to the finals, but the 25th-ranked team progressed to the play-off on goal difference, finishing second in their group ahead of the Netherlands and four points behind France.

    The last time Sweden qualified for the finals of the World Cup was in 2006, when the tournament was hosted in Germany. They made the Round of 16 in both 2006 and 2002, but since it’s been a barren run for the Scandinavian nation who were unable to qualify for 2010 in South Africa or 2014 in Brazil.

    Scott Pryde
    Scott Pryde

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1200 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.

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    The Crowd Says (125)

    • Roar Rookie

      November 14th 2017 @ 8:58am
      Stevo said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

      The only disaster that needs to be averted is the one tomorrow night. Nothing else matters. Socceroos IN Azzurri OUT would be delicious in a petty kind of way 🙂

    • November 14th 2017 @ 8:59am
      Birdman said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

      Ventura will need to flee to exile – clueless waste of space.

      On the other hand, Sweden should gets props for a gutsy effort over 2 legs.

      • November 14th 2017 @ 6:24pm
        matth said | November 14th 2017 @ 6:24pm | ! Report

        To get directly over the top of the Netherlands and Italy is some achievement.

    • November 14th 2017 @ 9:03am
      Birdman said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      End of an era with the imminent retirement of Gigi Buffon from international football – a legend of the modern game.

    • November 14th 2017 @ 9:03am
      Al said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      At least they have the summer off to perfect their diving for the next major tournament, assuming they qualify.

      • November 14th 2017 @ 9:15am
        Birdman said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        it doesn’t get any staler, Al.

        Get a life.

        • November 14th 2017 @ 12:32pm
          Al said | November 14th 2017 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

          Sorry Benito, you know it’s true.

      • November 14th 2017 @ 9:20am
        chris said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:20am | ! Report

        Al thats hilarious! You really have no clue

      • November 14th 2017 @ 10:46am
        hogdriller said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:46am | ! Report

        Yes Al, that is hilarious and not far from the truth. Another news report suggested they were crying after claims for a penalty (as usual with the Italians) were rejected.

        I always go back to the 06 W.C when that other cheat fell over Lucas Neil, resulting in a penalty putting Australia out.

        What goes round, comes around, lmfao!!!

        • November 14th 2017 @ 11:49am
          Birdman said | November 14th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

          haha – only someone who has never played the game could have ignored Lucas Neil’s part in that situation – it was always a decent chance to be given.

          It just suits some ppl to call it cheating when it was anything but – have another look at it – it’s a pen. IMO

        • November 14th 2017 @ 1:55pm
          chris said | November 14th 2017 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

          Neil was at fault. Grosso made the most of it yes. There was contact and Neil was on his backside legs splayed out. If it was an Aussie in the same situation Id want him to do exactly the same and Id want a penalty.

          • November 14th 2017 @ 3:01pm
            Birdman said | November 14th 2017 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

            great point – if the positions were reversed the sooking would still be going on if we didn’t get the pen.

            IMO the worst decision by the ref in that game was Matarazzi’s red card which was not a send off even though Bresciano rolled around like a stuck pig to accentuate the contact.

            Ironically, that send-off changed the game forcing the Italians to revert to their natural instincts and park the bus and patiently wait for a break out which is precisely what happened when Grosso collected on the wing easily rounded Bresciano outside the box and then wrong footed Neil who lost his head and went to ground.

            • November 14th 2017 @ 3:12pm
              chris said | November 14th 2017 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

              Yep totally agree. The level of sooking thats been going on about that pen is frankly embarrassing. Most of it coming from non-football people who have no clue of whats a dive and what is contact, and making the most of it. Grosso’s was the latter. People who have played the game know that for a goal scoring opportunity to be denied it doesnt necessarily take a full blown illegal tackle. Most times its really subtle (a little nudge in the back as you go up for a header, or a little nudge with the hip to put you off balance and you skew your shot).
              Some of the fouls in basketball are very similar to what is given in football.

              • Roar Rookie

                November 14th 2017 @ 5:12pm
                The Phantom Commissioner said | November 14th 2017 @ 5:12pm | ! Report

                Bresciano is the one mostly responsible for that pen in my eyes, he should never have let Grosso breeze past him with such ease at the edge of the area.

              • November 14th 2017 @ 9:08pm
                chris said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:08pm | ! Report

                good point pc. I wondered at the time what in heavens name is Bresc doing.
                The rest is history

      • November 15th 2017 @ 7:26am
        Bo said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:26am | ! Report

        Al, you’re about 30 years behind the times, mate.

    • November 14th 2017 @ 9:07am
      jamesb said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      Geez, Scottie you are quick with the article. Farewell Italia. Ciao Buffon. Meanwhile Sweden has knocked out the Netherlands and Italy.

      Today, ABBA beats Ferrari. The italians need an SOS

      • Roar Guru

        November 14th 2017 @ 9:34am
        Scott Pryde said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        Always quick off the mark James!

      • Roar Guru

        November 14th 2017 @ 11:08am
        Mango Jack said | November 14th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

        Mamma Mia!

        • November 14th 2017 @ 8:17pm
          Kavvy said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:17pm | ! Report

          Kudos. Mango Jack, very well played

      • Roar Guru

        November 14th 2017 @ 4:46pm
        Grobbelaar said | November 14th 2017 @ 4:46pm | ! Report

        Ma che bella spiegazione!

        • November 15th 2017 @ 9:14am
          Birdman said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

          vero!

    • November 14th 2017 @ 9:15am
      Bfc said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

      Kind of reinforces how difficult it is, and should be, to qualify for a World Cup.

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