Italy will miss a World Cup finals tournament for the first time in 60 years after Gian Piero Ventura’s side played out a frustrating goalless draw in Milan on Monday night, leaving a victorious Sweden to book their place in Russia via a 1-0 aggregate score.
They may have lacked a Pirlo, Totti or a Del Piero, but the current edition of the Azzurri still should have had enough quality to beat a workmanlike, though defensively sound Swedish side.
Indeed, Italy came into the game on a fine unbeaten record at the San Siro.
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) November 13, 2017
Before the game, the Swdish national anthem was roundly booed by the home fans, a move which seemed to motivate Celtic defender Mikael Lustig, for one.
Although fair dues to Gigi Buffon, in his last game for the Italian national team, for applauding the anthem.
Throughout a game they dominated in terms of possession, despite huffing and puffing for the full 90 minutes, Italy couldn’t break down a disciplined Swedish side, with Ciro Immobile missing a number of chances and Alessandro Florenzi going close.
The visitors were always a threat on the break themselves, creating a few chances to win the game.
Late on, Buffon raced forward for a corner, hoping for a Roy of the Rovers finale. However, it was all in vain as Sweden held on to stun the San Siro.
What a disappointing way to say farewell for the 2006 World Cup winner, who was understandbaly distraught after the game…
Gigi #Buffon crying on Rai TV after the match. Terrible.
LEGEND. 🇮🇹💔 pic.twitter.com/LoDmKbvSZz
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) November 13, 2017
While the whole of Italy come to terms with missing out on a World Cup for the first time since 1958, when it held in Sweden of all places, coach Jan Andersson and co. celebrate reaching their first World Cup finals since 2006, and they even managed it without Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
It does all make Antonio Conte’s feat of overseeing a very decent performance by Italy at Euro 2016 all the more impressive.