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“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.
This will be only the second World Cup missed by Italy. The first was in 1958.
“I’m not resigning because I haven’t spoken with the (federation) president,” Ventura said. “We need to evaluate things. We’ll see. I’ll talk with the federation and confront the problem.
“I feel I have to apologize to Italians for the result.”
The rot, however, 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 European Championship, reaching the final in 2012 and going out in the quarterfinals in 2008 and 2016.
Mario Balotelli was the star of Euro 2012 but fell out of favor after Italy’s woeful showing at the last World Cup.
Juventus has been a force to be reckoned with in recent years in Europe, where it has reached two out of the past three Champions League finals. But while its defense forms the backbone of the Italy team, its midfield and attack are made up mainly of foreign players.
The Brazilian-born Jorginho was finally handed his competitive debut by Ventura, and the midfielder impressed with some deft passing. Jorginho created Italy’s best opportunities with two throughballs for Ciro Immobile, who hit the netting from a tight angle from one. Immbobile beat Olsen with another but Andreas Granqvist got back for a decisive goal-line clearance.
Alessandro Florenzi was also back following a year out after twice tearing a knee ligament, and the midfielder forced Olsen into his only real save, while a cross of his was also deflected onto the crossbar in the second half.
Meanwhile, the highly rated Lorenzo Insigne surprisingly played only 15 minutes of the playoff, and out of position.
Italy will have to go forward without captain and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who has played his last international match after 20 years between the posts for the Azzurri. De Rossi also announced he was retiring after the playoff, as did defender Andrea Barzagli. Remarkably, the 0-0 result was the sixth straight in the playoffs, since Sweden’s goal at home against Italy on Friday.