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Italian soccer is on the brink of disaster

 By Ben Gladwell

'The End' - Italy's 2018 World Cup playoff failure slammed by media

Italy's failure to reach a World Cup finals for the first time in 60 years was described as an "Apocalypse" by the nation's newspapers.

Several long-serving players including Gianluigi Buffon, Daniele De Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli all announced they would retire from international duty after the 0-0 draw in Milan saw Sweden progress to next year's finals with a 1-0 aggregate win.

Italy head coach Gian Piero Ventura has come in for plenty of criticism, as the pressure on Italian football federation chief Carlo Tavecchio to fire him intensifies.

After the four-time world champions failed to book a place in Russia next summer, the press did not hold back.

La Gazzetta dello Sport - The End 

"Italy are right back at the very beginning. Buffon's tears and the deafening silence of the San Siro seem like a gravestone, on which the verdict is unequivocally inscribed: goodbye Russia, we are not going to the World Cup for the first time since the distant 1958. It is one of the darkest pages of our sporting history; a brutal blow beyond the incalculable damage for a country which lives and breathes football. It's a sporting equivalent of Titanic."

Il Corriere dello Sport - Everybody fired! 

"It's an intolerable footballing disgrace; an indelible stain. It's the end. Apocalypse, tragedy, catastrophe. Call it what you want, but our football is in a serious crisis. We've been relegated to Serie B of world football. Ventura's leaving, but he must not be the only one."

Tuttosport - Everybody home!

"The disgrace is not only down to Ventura. It's the whole football movement. We're not going to Russia. After 60 years, Italy miss out on qualifying for the World Cup again for only the second time - the third if you consider 1930, when we chose not to go. It's unbelievable and leaves one almost without words, but with a huge disappointment because it is unimaginable to think of a World Cup without Italy, who have won four, like Germany, and only fewer than Brazil. But instead, we have to start facing the truth, which talks about an experience, with Ventura in charge, which was a total failure."

La Repubblica - Azzurra debacle, World Cup without Italy

"It's an apocalypse with a gloomy shade of Azzurro. There is a bitter taste to Buffon's tears; heartbreaking because he will not be at his sixth World Cup, which would have made him a legend as the only player ever to achieve that. We could not even get one miserly goal against a poor, technically embarrassing Sweden, who were nevertheless proud and resistant and rewarded by a deflection of Daniele De Rossi's calf, and a good bit of fortune in the second leg. We thought we had already hit rock bottom, but we've gone further than that -- we've gone back 60 years."

La Stampa - Azzurra apocalypse, goodbye World Cup

"There's disappointment and a lot of anger. San Siro did not perform its miracle, even if this national team were light years away from the terrible one seen in Stockholm. 27 shots in goal, 40 crosses, 76 percent possession, but no goal against Sweden in 180 minutes is a condemnation without appeal: we deserve to stay at home."

Il Tempo - Get to work!

"It was agony. In the game of their lives against a modest Sweden side were weak and without ideas. Everybody is to blame -- Ventura, Tavecchio, the players -- it's year zero."

Sweden's media jubilantly hailed their national team, who qualified for their first World Cup finals since 2006.

Aftonbladet - The Miracle in Milano

"There was something Beckenbauer-like about Granqvist in the first playoff game, and on this night he stood there at the back like a Terry Butcher, minus the blood. In this playoff, [Lindelof] has proven that Jose Mourinho should give him more and bigger chances at Manchester United."

Expressen - Heroes

"Milano has fallen, Swedish football has outdone itself." 

Dagens Nyheter - What a feat, Sweden!

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.


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