Shock and grief in Italy as World Cup dream implodes

Annette Crawford
November 14, 2017

Italians, who consider a spot in the World Cup finals a virtual birthright, slumped into a collective depression on Tuesday after the national team failed to win a place among football's elite for the first time in 60 years.

The final whistle which signalled that Sweden had qualified for the World Cup was still echoing around the San Siro when the speculation began - will retired record goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic return for the finals in Russian Federation?

"I cant believe it", posted one Italy fan.

"For years I've had this feeling that Italian football is a little like Italy itself, which lives a lot in the past when the reality is that it finds itself dealing with things that are quite intense, even shocking", said Matteo Maragnano, peeling oranges in a cafe near Milan's gothic cathedral.

In the minutes after the Swedes hung on for a goalless draw on Monday that secured one of the big World Cup upsets, Ibrahimovic wrote "We are Zweden" on Instagram next to a photo of the delighted team, deliberately adding the "Z" of his name to his country's.

'This is disgusting, the World Cup can't exist without Italy. "I have not yet spoken to the president", said Ventura. Resignation? I have to evaluate an infinity of issues.

"It's a very heavy result to bear, because I was absolutely convinced that we had this ferocious desire to overcome the obstacle".

Italian fans were struggling to come to terms with the prospect of a World Cup without their national team. "Not taking part in the Russia World Cup is an enormous slap in the face". "Look at some of the older players who felt that this was the last chance to make it to a World Cup - and now we did it".

As the clock ticked down, De Rossi was asked by Ventura to warm up but he pointed at Insigne instead. "We couldn't do it in any other way, they are so skilful".

Failure to qualify has heaped pressure on Italy boss Gian Piero Ventura, with the sport daily Corriere dello Sport calling for him to step down, while the headline in La Gazzetta dello Sport read "Italy, this is the apocalypse".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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