Four time world champions Italy joined Chile, Netherlands and the United States, failing to reach the world cup for the first time since 1958 after the playoff defeat against Sweden earlier today.
Midfielder Jakob Johansson’s strike in the first leg was the only goal as the second leg ended 0-0 at a sold-out San Siro. In the presence of almost 72,000 Italian fans, the Scandinavian defence restricted Giampiero Ventura’s Azzurri from scoring the much needed equaliser.
However, the visitors were on top with a 76% ball possession and 27 shots at the Scandinavian goal out of which only 6 were on target.
Thirty nine year old goalie Gianluigi Buffon announced his retirement from international football with an apology for his countrymen.
“I’m not sorry for myself but all of Italian football. We failed at something which also means something on a social level. There’s regret at finishing like that, not because time passes. Those who’ve played know how hard these matches are. We weren’t able to express ourselves at our best. We lacked the composure to score,” he said.
“There is certainly a future for Italian football, as we have pride, ability, determination and after bad tumbles, we always find a way to get back on our feet. I leave a squad of talent that will have their say, including (goalkeepers) Gigi Donnarumma and Mattia Perin. I thank the lads who were with us and, although it wasn’t enough, I hope that we gave them something. In football you win as a group, you lose as a group, you divide the credit and the blame. The coach is part of this entire group,” added Buffon.
Highlights Italy v Sweden
Nevertheless, it was a fighting performance from the home team as they were almost entirely focussed on Sweden’s back half in the second half. Sweden will play in the world cup finals for the first time since 2006.
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