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Saturday November 11 2017
Italy on brink of historic humiliation

If Italy miss the first World Cup in 60 years, a new generation of calcio lovers will suffer the consequences, writes Giancarlo Rinaldi.

Only the old-timers can truly tell us how this feels. If you want to know how much failure to qualify for a World Cup hurts, go ask a Nonno. The shell-shocked expression that greets you will tell you everything you need to know. And now our generation stands on the precipice of a similar heartache.

Back in 1958, it was Northern Ireland who thwarted Italian dreams and the finger of blame was pointed firmly at underperforming stars and a Coach who seemed to have lost his way. The echoes of those criticisms could be heard nearly six decades later after Friday night’s display in Sweden. The howls of frustration and fury from anyone who holds the Azzurri dear went ringing around the globe.

The troubling aspect, for many, was more about the performance than the end result. Defeat to a deflected goal, in other circumstances, might have smacked simply of bad luck. And, at 1-0 down with a game to play at San Siro, a comeback should not be beyond any Italy side.

However, if they play in the same limp, lifeless and lacklustre way as they did for much of the first leg, they must be longshots to turn this situation around. It is up to Giampiero Ventura to fire them up and breathe new life into a nation’s hopes of getting to Russia 2018. Unfortunately, he is looking less and less likely to provide that kind of inspiration.

The figure he cut on the sidelines for much of the match at the Friends Arena was a forlorn one. His tactics and team selection were questionable at best and he failed to even use a third substitute that might have helped to get his side back into the game. With every passing moment he looks more and more like an inexperienced swimmer who has ventured into deep waters only to find that somebody has thrown his armbands away.

In truth, the moment he was appointed to replace Antonio Conte was one which provoked plenty of reservations. It’s not that Ventura was a bad club Coach - some of his sides produced lovely football - but simply a question of whether he was ready for a step up to the national team so late in his career. Only a few are still giving him the benefit of the doubt, but even they will be heading for the exit doors if he flops on Monday night.

And therein is the horrible dilemma for many Azzurri fans. Do you cheer for a victory in Milan knowing that it prolongs the current incumbent’s time at the helm? Or do you secretly hope for a defeat that brings his reign to a quick end, but denies you any entertainment next summer? Either way there is a degree of pain to be suffered.

It could be, of course, that he turns things around in the second leg and goes on to have a great World Cup, but the evidence for that is getting thinner than his predecessor’s hair in the mid-1990s.

He was supposed to be the man to bring through our next generation of talent, but there was absolutely nothing to support that view in Sweden. Instead, he produced a garbled set of tactics and confusing team selection that seemed designed to infuriate rather than produce any flowing football. Ironically, the only decent spell of play came shortly before the only goal of the game was conceded.

If the Ventura age does come to a juddering halt in a couple of days’ time, then he should surely not be the only casualty. Carlo Tavecchio, the Federation president who has overseen this debacle, should do the decent thing and step aside as well. He said it would be apocalyptic if Italy failed to qualify and such a cataclysmic event deserves to take more scalps than simply the Coach.

The Azzurri have lost their way after a strong showing at Euro 2016 and to miss Russia 2018 would run the risk of setting La Nazionale back a long way. It would deny a legend like Gigi Buffon a well-earned swansong, while a new generation of talent might miss out on some vital career development.

It took 12 years for Italy to have a decent World Cup after the last time they missed out and none of us wants to suffer that. Because, I can tell you, I have looked into my father’s eyes and seen just how traumatic a footballing experience it was.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
told you.

The corpse of the dead league known as serie A has at last finally and totally destroyed football in this culture. Thank you Juve, you dragged the league into the horrifying depths of corruption, then mocked and disgraced it while it tried to revive itself.

A whole generation of Italins will care nothing for Italy, the Italian league. You're fans said they would kill Serie A for what it did to Juve, wish granted.

I hope we never make the world cup again.
on the 13th November, 2017 at 11:23pm
IT IS ABOUT TIME TO SACK FIGC PEOPLE AND RESTRCTURING THE ITALIAN FOOTBALL.

I LOVE ITALIAN FOOTBALL BUT SOME TIME YOU FEEL THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE ANY PLAN FOR NOW OR FOR FUTURE.

APART OF AZZURE UNDER 21 YOU CAN'T SEE OR HEAR ANY ACHIEVMENT. I NEVER HEARD THAT ITALIAN YOUTH TEAM QULAIFY OR WON UNDER 19 OR 17 WORLD CUP.

WHILE TEAMS LIKE BRAZIL, ARGENTINA, SPAIN AND GERMANY ARE ALWAYS THERE.

YOU HAVE TO FOCUS ON YOUNG AND YOUTH SECTOR TO BUILD A STRONG NATIONAL TEAM.
on the 13th November, 2017 at 9:21am
@FIGC...Lol! Your obsessed, don't forget your on this forum exhausting yourself with all your energy. You don't like the fact I've sussed you out..Your a closet wonabe...even using Italian words...Lol! You seem to know a lot of our football success. Yes I mention the past because that earns you the reputation. What you're talking about is potential with the others..Well that's to be seen and until then I'll continue to enjoy....with my tazzulell' e caffe.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 8:28pm
@papaberts. I think you’re obsessed with me. I bet you’re one of those fans who cling on to the past. And always bring up 34,38,82,06 in an argument. You’re right it doesn’t put stars on your shirt. But it’s start of a cycle where youth will flourish and will eventually start putting stars on shirts al la Spain. Italy hold the u21 record for now...instead of trying to attack me. Wake up and smell the espresso. Italy are finished and so is calcio in general.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 7:12pm
Italian football has been declining for years and Italy have, with the exception of 2012, been pretty awful sine winning WC 2006. It isn't just the current manager's fault. Throughout the 1980s and 90s Italy were usually either in the final or semi final and had an abundance of players to choose from. Just think of the amazing players who barely featured for Italy over the years, Simone, Signiri, Vialli, Montella, Delvecchio, Miccoli etc. Over reliance on stranieri has been calcio's downfall
on the 12th November, 2017 at 5:31pm
Also@FIGC.Sucess in U17/19/21 does not earn you the stars on your shirt.....Otherwise, do your homework and you'll discover that Italy at U21 still hold the record. We cannot forget history, or are you someone that does not even respect "Rememberence Day" simply because its history. Italy historical success cannot be forgotten. England are still showing and living those 1966 memories. I've sussed you out already. I bet you are that typical person that hangs out with Italians, but jealous!
on the 12th November, 2017 at 4:34pm
Oh well I guess for now we'll have to just take the rubbish that some idiots, with little football knowledge give out. I mean unless they are Brazilian or Germans.......Are you of one of these countries FIGC....as they are the only other 2 countries more successful than Italy......You'll be like the rest of them that have come on this forum......you'll soon disappear and just pop your ugly head when there is a negative result for Italy. Like other idiots of the past we have encountered.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 4:16pm
Regarding players, Belotti is good but needs to play for a bigger team not little toro, Kane is ahead of him now. Rugani isn’t world class nor will he ever be. Being a Juve fan and biased won’t help you juvenitini. Caldara needs to develop and being at Atalanta won’t help him needs to come back to Juve. Verratti plays in a Farmers League. He good but no way world class. Stones isn’t anyway near that? yet he’s flourishing under pep at Man City and miles ahead of Rugani and Caldara.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 2:24pm
guys. Love reading your comments. Love a debate. Buts it’s not England vs Italy here. I’m Just not comparing England youth set up to Italy it’s germany and France, Spain. Italy haven’t won anything at youth level for 12/13 years. All these i’m Mentioned above have.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 2:19pm
Italy 2 Sweden 0 and Conte (who will be fired soon) will come to the rescue and we will go deep in Russia 2018. FIGC Corrupt, the English fan posing as an Italia fan, will eat his words...

England a WC contender?? Bahahahaaa!! England's record against Italy is abysmal by the way...
on the 12th November, 2017 at 12:15pm
"Carlo Tavecchio ..... should do the decent thing"

That will probably never happen.

I am conflicted though as whether to cheer on Italy or Sweden. I would definitely cheer on Sweden if I know for sure that Italy's exit will cause an overhaul and progress in Italian football.

But I really have my doubts that even missing the WC would still not be enough to shake thing up.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 10:15am
@FIGC corrupt

come one are you serious England producing good players if anything the quality is average especially considering the kind of revenue the fa operates under. Bare in mind the under 20 world cup is no indicator of quality hardly any players come onto to be world class. You are acting as if any these players which even feature in the premier league as well 64% of players in league are foreign less than half of the managers are from the uk add to that the virtual foreign ownership.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 10:12am
Almost to a man the youngsters have not lived up to their early promise when playing 4 Italy! From Verratti to Insigne! Some like Rugani never get a look in while the same old players r picked regardless of form. With sides like Atalanta n Sassuolo things r slowly changing but there seems 2 b a distinct lack in confidence in young Italian's n Italy in general atm. It'll b a shame if failure to qualify holds back the progress of Italian football but it may be needed 4 true change 2 occur.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 8:56am
the performance has to do with bad tactics used by the couch. he has changed the formation for a million time now and still can't one that best suits the team. ventura lacks the privilege of using passion and grita on the pitch. the lads have been playing with no grita at all. tactics alone won't help..
on the 12th November, 2017 at 8:45am
@FIGC corrupt
Don't give me that bull. Rugani is developing into a great defender. Romagnoli is developing into a great defender. Caldara is developing into a great defender. Stones isn't anywhere on their levels.

You dug yourself in this English hype, I want to see some proof in results. Reminder: they have been horrific in competitions outside their league, and only this year are they doing slightly better, while champions Chelsea lost to Roma. How are they better than Italy now?
on the 12th November, 2017 at 8:42am
The team's performance in Sweden pretty much summed up what is happening with Italy at present. 7 out of the starting 11 were 30 or over. Yet again u rely purely on experience when u have one of the most promising batches of youth that you've had in years! This stale attitude is indicative of the disjointed performances of Italy recently. U need a system that works. Instead clubs trying to build new stadia have to fight against outdated bureaucracy n even in Serie A youngsters r often overlooked
on the 12th November, 2017 at 8:38am
I still want Italy to qualify both as a fan n because Italian football has been improving but some of that enthusiasm will be seriously undermined if they don't make it to the next WC. New stadia r finally being built n proposed. Attendances r up. There r exciting young talents, Serie A clubs r becoming richer n better run n Italian football as a global brand is growing again. Ironically it sometimes takes a disaster for things 2 truly change but the only thing that needs to is the attitude -
on the 12th November, 2017 at 8:22am
Uaglio from bigsoocer , is that you below? For pete's sake stop spelling Ventura as " Sventura ". That is how I was able to recognize you. Why do you keep making this mistake?
on the 12th November, 2017 at 5:38am
@FIGC Corrupt, I'm not impressed with most of the overhyped young talent in Italy either, but if you build your argument of England winning the world cup on the 4 players you mentioned, then you're just as delusional as the British media who put that rubbish in your head. I don't see England reaching a semifinal in the next 20 years, when was the last time England beat Italy? I can't remember, this is a bad period for the Azzuri and having this incompetent manager didn't help the situation, period.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 4:58am
Ah yes, the Dutch system, the Portuguese system, French System... Now England is the System du Jour... Problem is many players in these systems peak at under-21 and never touch a World Cup trophy. This is truest of England who lack the mental toughness to win at WC/Euro level. Only Germany & Spain have strong systems AND multiple trophies in recent years to back it up.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 4:44am
Thank you Save the Azzurri. Someone with sense. @Juvenitni86 as much as it sounds stupid John Stones is turning into a top defender. As Chiellini and Bonucci are in decline now. But not just England look at how Spain keep churning out these young talents and as well as Germany. I pray for Azzurri to reach the level of 2006 but can’t see it happening in the next 15/20 years.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 1:33am
FIGC corrupt - You're proving my point. I said what I had to say. I said you were slow after that because you can't wrap your head around context and logic. You keep talking about Italian players not being world class. Says who?..you?. Let's see a club try and purchase some young Italian players like Veratti, Belotti, Insigne,and Kean, see if they don't get stuck with a € 100,000,000+ bill. These are world class players, as is Rugani, and a at least two keepers like Meret and Donnarumma.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 12:58am
Have to agree with comments below regarding England's youth system. Results speak for themselves and England have been performing admirably at youth level.
Italy youth squads on the other hand have been hopeless and U21 coach Di Biagio is almost as clueless as sVentura.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 12:08am
yes i do think italy does not play as a team. Ventura is so awful and keep giving excuses. He is too stubborn and naive and he is going to ruin Italy if he continues like this. he just could not get the team running. Italy needs a better coach and better players out on the field. The players should play as a team not for personal honour. Conte has chosen players that willing to sacrifice for the team. But the current players like veratti, insigne, belotti and immobile, they are too selfish.
on the 12th November, 2017 at 12:06am
The reason this fool refuses to deploy a logical 4-3-3 is because he has never used it at club level and therefore is totally unfamiliar to him.
It just gets worse and worse with this clown Ventura!
on the 11th November, 2017 at 11:21pm
Some of these comments jezz hasn't balotelli disappointed every calcio fan enough do you really want a return of this man-child.

Secondly i really don't buy the argument that Italy has a poor generation of players it may pale in comparison to that of the 90s and 80s however it should easily be good enough to beat Sweden. As for England winning the world cup are you mental they are worse than Italy everything in the league is imported and those limited English players who play are overrated.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 10:54pm
If things do go south and Italy fails to qualify i hope it spurs a huge change in FIGC. How the hell Tavecchio and Albertini were the options for president it is simply absurd. Every thing positive about serie a is down to individual teams innovating against a backdrop of bureaucracy and politics. All the FIGC seems to do when things go wrong is blame foreign players rather than looking at the real issues which hurt Italian football.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 10:46pm
Azzuri's problem is more leadership/mentality than talent. Sides w/great talent (Portugal/Figo-Ronaldo years, England/Rooney-Beckham years, Dutch/forever) choke & get outperformed by "lesser" sides who are better prepared. Italy way better than Sweden, but poorly-led and unmotivated.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 10:39pm
Yes that's correct FIGC are most certainly corrupt.
How does someone like Tavecchio get elected president of the FIGC with a criminal record longer than my arm lol!

If that doesn't cry out corruption tell me what does?
on the 11th November, 2017 at 10:38pm
@FIGC corrupt
HAHAHAHA! Stones better than Bonucci or Chiellini? Oh, man. Needed that laugh.

I've got nothing to say about Italy's structure overall, but there are plenty of good players who should be able to secure qualification at the minimum. That's why blame rests solely on Ventura.

England's football brand may have just started producing results, because for the longest time they have been too poor for words. More foreigners, overpaid local talent, absent in Europe; Italy is still better.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 10:18pm

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