Football: The problems of the World Cup continue for the European champions of Italy

Football Football – World Cup – UEFA Qualifiers – Play-Off Semifinal – Italy vs Northern Macedonia – Stadio Renzo Barbera, Palermo, Italy – March 24, 2022 Jorginho of Italy in action with Boban Nikolov of Northern Macedonia REUTERS / Guglielmo Mangiapane

March 25, 2022

By Peter Hall

(Reuters) – Italy broke the English heart last July by winning the European Championship final, but after failing to qualify for the World Cup for the second consecutive tournament, left fans wondering if their victory in Wembley was a flash.

For a country that has won the World Cup four times, Italy’s recent record is a national shame.

Since lifting their fourth World Cup trophy in 2006, they have not played a knockout match in the main event, as they have only won one group stage match in the final stage at that time.

His recent World Cup record is even more distressing.

A stunning 1-0 defeat at home to Northern Macedonia, the low-ranking, on Thursday, in their World Cup playoff semifinal, ensured they had not reached the finals of the tournament since 2014.

It is now two successive failures to reach the World Cup, on both sides of the triumph of Euro 2020.

Arriving second in Switzerland in their qualifying group, consigning Italy to the playoffs, caused a stir at home. The reaction to the playoff defeat will be, to say the least, vitriolic.

“It’s hard to say something now, I don’t know what to say,” coach Roberto Mancini told reporters.

“Last summer was the most beautiful joy, now comes the biggest disappointment. It’s not easy to think of other things, I’m so sorry guys – I love you so much more tonight than in July.

“I’m the coach, I’m the first person in charge, not the boys. They have a great future, they are strong players for the future of the team. We didn’t deserve this defeat. “

Italy had 32 shots on goal in the top five in Northern Macedonia, but it wasn’t as if visiting goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski had the game of his life. He didn’t have a hard time making a stop and the locals who didn’t score were due to his own waste.

Northern Macedonia coach Blagoja Milevski was able to see the irony of his victory in the last sigh.

“We beat the Italian against the Italians, a goal with two shots on goal,” he told reporters. “I’m very happy for this victory, I’m proud of these guys.”

Northern Macedonia, who have never qualified for the World Cup, will face Portugal next Tuesday for a place in Qatar, but no matter what happens in that final tiebreaker, they will always remember their trip to defeat Italy’s power in Palermo.

For the Azzurri, however, it is far back to the starting point, 10 months after one of their best hours.

(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Football: The problems of the World Cup continue for the European champions of Italy

Source link Football: The problems of the World Cup continue for the European champions of Italy

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