Italy won’t be playing in Russia when the World Cup kicks off next summer. With no Holland, Chile, and US, the elimination of Italy from the grandest of stages has to be the biggest upset of all.
Sweden produced a defensive masterclass to outwit a talented Italian outfit to progress to the World Cup. They hung on to a 1 goal lead from the first leg and defended with their back to the walls throughout the second leg.
In contrast to the performance at Stockholm where the Azzurri’s were slow and unimaginative, they were quick with their passing but quality crosses eluded them in the San Siro.
Johansson’s first-leg goal, which beat Buffon via a deflection was ultimately the decider between the two teams. Giampiero Ventura is set to face the heat of the fans because despite the plea of the fans and Italian greats, he didn’t play Lorenzo Insigne in the decider and this might just be the factor if he is to be sacked.
We must spare a thought for Sweden as well. Coming up against a giant like Italy in the playoffs and producing a performance which not only unlocked the much appreciated Italian defense but also mitigated the effect of the attack force is indeed praiseworthy.
The last major competitions that the four-time World cup winners weren’t a part of were the 1984 and 1992 European Championships. Not since 1958 has Italy missed the World Cup stage.
The End Of An Era
Yes, we won’t see Buffon donning Italian jersey again. He had promised to retire after the World cup in Russia but his retirement has come sooner than expected.
In the aftermath of the painful defeat, Buffon said,
“We have pride, strength and we’re stubborn. We know how to get back up again as we’ve always done. I’m leaving an Italy side that will know how to speak for itself. Hugs to everyone, especially those I’ve shared this wonderful journey with.”
He is one of the greats of the game and it will be a sorry sight to not see him in Italian colors again.
Will Zlatan Come Back From Retirement?
This is probably a million dollar question as of now. Zlatan had retired from the international stage to concentrate on his club career. Moreover, he had suffered a gruesome knee ligament injury which ousted him from football for over 8 months. He is currently fit and will be back at Old Trafford in a few weeks.
From both the matches of the leg, it is clear that Sweden is toothless while going forward. Zlatan would definitely be a big boost to Sweden if he comes back into the side. Will it happen though?
For now, let’s just say that A WORLD CUP WITHOUT BUFFON WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.
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