Mi­lan stunned to si­lence

Draw with Swe­den leaves Italy on out­side look­ing in

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - Front Page -

Four-time cham­pion Italy failed to qual­ify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades af­ter los­ing its play­off to Swe­den 1-0 on ag­gre­gate.

De­spite three quar­ters of pos­ses­sion, Italy was stymied by a goal­less draw in the sec­ond leg at Mi­lan’s San Siro on Mon­day.

“It’s a black mo­ment for our game,” Italy mid­fielder Daniele De Rossi said. “Un­for­tu­nately there will be a lot of time to an­a­lyze it. The only thing I can say is that we showed few ideas and not much in the way of tac­tics.”

Swe­den ad­vanced to its first World Cup since 2006.

It could have been worse for Italy, as Swe­den was de­nied what looked like two clear-cut penal­ties for hand­balls, first by Mat­teo Darmian and then An­drea Barza­gli.

Italy had a penalty ap­peal of its own waved off by ref­eree An­to­nio Ma­teu La­hoz when Marco Parolo was tripped from be­hind by Lud­wig Aug­sustins­son.

But the Az­zurri strug­gled to carve out clear chances against a solid Swe­den side, and of their six shots on tar­get, only one re­ally tested goal­keeper Robin Olsen.

“We all need to look within and find a way to bounce back,” de­fender Gior­gio Chiellini said. “We need to get back to the level we de­serve to be at.”

This will be only the sec­ond World Cup missed by Italy. The first was in 1958.

The last ma­jor com­pe­ti­tions Italy failed to qual­ify for were the 1984 and 1992 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships.

i’m sorry that we failed at some­thing that could have also been im­por­tant on a so­cial level. that’s the only re­gret i have. Gian­luigi Buf­fon who would have be­come the first player to travel to six World Cups

It would be easy to lay the blame squarely on Gian Piero Ven­tura. The Italy coach will nat­u­rally take the lion’s share but the Az­zurri’s prob­lems run much deeper.

The rot started long be­fore Ven­tura took charge. Af­ter win­ning the World Cup in 2006 for a fourth time, Italy went out at the group stage of the next two edi­tions. It fared some­what bet­ter at the Eu­ros, reach­ing the fi­nal in 2012 and go­ing out in the quar­ter­fi­nals in 2008 and 2016.

How­ever, An­to­nio Conte’s Italy side over­achieved in France last year, when it sur­pris­ingly beat Spain in the round of 16 be­fore los­ing on penal­ties to world cham­pion Ger­many.

Italy has lacked suc­ces­sors to An­drea Pirlo and Francesco Totti of the 2006 side who could change a match with one mo­ment of magic.

Mario Balotelli was the star of Euro 2012 but fell out of favour af­ter Italy’s woe­ful show­ing at the last World Cup. Mean­while, the highly rated Lorenzo In­signe sur­pris­ingly played only 15 min­utes of the play­off, and out of po­si­tion.

MARCO BERTORELLO/GETTY images

Swe­den’s play­ers cel­e­brate at the end of mon­day’s match at the san siro sta­dium in mi­lan.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.