It was a slap in the face to many Americans when the U.S. Men’s National Team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The team has always been a shoe-in for the tournament so it’s quite a shock that such a staple team will not make an appearance. However, the more shocking news is Italy’s absence in the tournament. Sure, the United States team is good, but Italy has a long and impressive history with the World Cup.
Italy and the World Cup go waaaay back. The team secured four titles in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006. Not only that, but they made it to the finals in both 1970 and 1994, and walked away with third place in 1978. So what went wrong this time around?
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The 1-0 defeat against Sweden in the World Cup qualifier was the obvious reason for Italy not advancing to the tournament, but the soccer-loving country doesn’t blame the team exactly. Instead, they’re looking at manager Gian Piero Ventura. The 69-year-old manager desperately clung to his old-school tactics and misused his best players. For example, Ventura failed to take advantage of the key player, Lorenzo Insigne who didn’t see the field time that a player of his ability should have.
Additionally, there was a noticeable rift between senior players such as Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Barzagli and management. Italy’s failure to qualify unfortunately resulted in the termination of the international careers of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and midfielder Daniele De Rossi. As for Ventura, he deservingly got the boot.
It’s the first time since 1958 that Italy hasn’t been included on the World Cup’s roster. Along with Germany, Italy has the second most World Cup appearances with a total of 18. Brazil currently has aggregated the most with 20 appearances. Even FIFA president Gianni Infantino has expressed his disappointment in regards to Italy’s no-show. He was quoted saying, “The fact that Italy didn’t qualify for the World Cup was a beautiful blow for all of Italian football.”
Guess we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed for 2022. Despite some World Cup veterans missing out this year, some new faces are being welcomed such as Iceland and Panama. The tournament certainly won’t be the same without Italy, but despite this, it will still be interesting to watch.