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.

Have your say...
Baggio@juve82 I wish I was being ridiculous. But just wait for the summer to unfold and the next couple of years and you’ll realise i’m right. Mark my words. Just look forward to Italy playing Germany, England and France in European nation league and getting relegated from it and not even qualifying for Euro 2020. Let that sink it what is coming after this World Cup. For Italy to be great again they need reform the academies and play more Italians in Serie A. 20-23 need to play in the first team
on the 11th November, 2017 at 11:11pm
FIGC Corrupt...


We are finished? I disagree (even if we go out to Sweden) but no problemo, England can dream of as many World Cups as possible they still aren't getting anywhere near our history. Proof is set in stone - not hyped talk as it has been for England since 1966.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 11:06pm
This is where we find out what we’re made of! On Monday, for one more game we’ll scream and shout at the TV, cheer and cry. friday is gone. We MUST believe that they can do it, or what’s the point in playing, wAtching it, etc... So, stop moaning, stop bickering and start believing and definitely start praying!!! There’s time for rotten tomatoes later if needed. Negativity will only lead to one thing. Forza ragazzi. Italy 2-0! Come oooon! Can’t believe we won’t be there. No Italy, no party!
on the 11th November, 2017 at 10:32pm
@FIGC corrupt I don't know which of your statements is more absurd... Comparing Italy with Malta and Saudi Arabia, or suggesting that England might win the World Cup. Now come on, don't be ridiculous.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 10:29pm
Tommaso. Stones is better than Bonucci and Chiellini. They are both finished hurts me to say. You say i’m a funny guy yet nobody who questions my comments can argue the fact we have no talented players coming through. Best thing is i’m right. And you’ll know it as well. I’m not a England fan not even English. Just wish Italy would follow their route and plan. I’m probably more Italian than you amico. Wake up and realise that Italian football is dead and buried. Italy are a third rate nation now.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 10:07pm
Ventura is the scape goat. Italian football is in crisis and coach is always an easy target. The Country should have qualified with any coach, selection and formation.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 9:37pm
To the england fan posting as figc corrupt. Funny guy, can i have some of what you're having. Sterling, stones. My goodness, must try harder.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 9:28pm
dami's comment might be excessive but it's relevant, an amateur now would be an improvement. Why not? If we're to believe that the players are doing the best they can based on instructions they got from an obstinate lunatic, there may as well be no tactics at all and depend fully on individual talent.

Get any armchair coach, dream up a line-up based on selections (which are still far from ideal but the talent is there) and have Buffon and friends figure the rest out.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 9:01pm
Over a year has passed and this team looks worse than before. That's the only context you need to understand the current situation.

Ventura's appointment was a mistake, there were plenty of opportunities to replace him (I will never get over that Spain defeat. Even for a better team, Italy's display was embarrassing). Adding insult to injury is the fact that this Sweden side isn't that impressive anyway, which means there's still hope of yet another group exit. What fun.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 8:55pm
Anonymous= mark my words England will win a World Cup in the next 4/8 years! They have talent which Italy don’t produce anymore. What’s Italy won at youth level in last 12 years? Only euro 2004 u21. You need to wake up and realise our nation is dead on and off the field. Wish Italy had a Alli, Kane, Rashford, Stones, Sterling. Even the young kids, Brewster, Foden. All going to be world class players. What have Italy got? Donnarumma who is slow? Rugani who can’t run? Petanga? Haha gets worse
on the 11th November, 2017 at 8:55pm
Beppe Rossi = all good and being well on the commercial side of things but you still can’t answer the fact that Italy can’t produce any good talented players. Decent at best. Potential to be world class no way! Haha great come back. That’s all you have to say ‘i’m slow’ you’re even worse like beppe Rossi with his 1200 injuries! Who cares about North America tv rights. Still won’t make Italy win a World Cup or produce talented players. Italy are the new Malta. We are poor accept it!
on the 11th November, 2017 at 8:50pm
352 into 433 could work...
de rossi & parolo flanking jorginho
zappa n darmian wings
insigne n immobile

if at the half nothing materialises take of zappa and bring on el pharoah or candreva for 433

sub immobile for belotti if he doesnt score by the 60th and keep a sub available for unexpected circumstances.

See i could be the new Ventura! :)
on the 11th November, 2017 at 8:30pm
FIGC Corrupt have u been drinking? England are gonna win the World Cup!! Lol! Funniest thing I’ve heard ina long time! There’s more chance of Bennevento winning serie a! I guarantee u England will not win the World Cup in any of our lifetimes! Stay off the booze if ur posting messages mate. Thanks for the laugh tho, my sides are still hurting!
on the 11th November, 2017 at 8:16pm
I agree with Lee Antonio — Ventura needs to go today. I can't see how the situation on the pitch on Monday can get any worse with an interim manager. The second qualifier against Spain was simply baffling: personnel, formation, tactics, and the wrongheaded persistence of Ventura when the situation was not working. Think of Lippi; his 2006 winners had its fair share of workaday players but he managed to galvanise them into more than a sum of their parts, by suiting the players to the formation.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 7:39pm
How does a nation like Italy in which football is viewed like a religion appoint Tavecchio? What real qualifications does this imp posses? He has NEVER EVEN PLAYED FOOTBALL. His qualifications?
A CRIMINAL RECORD FOR STUPIDITY are his qualifications.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 7:31pm
FIGC corrupt= Ventura and Tevecchio aside, Lega Calcio ratings are high, revenues are high, attendances are high, and the merchandise sales are high. Teams like Roma , Fiorentina, Atalanta, and Cagliari are beginning their new stadia projects,to match Juventus, Sassuolo, and Udinese is a POSITIVE. In case you forgot, but Lega Calcio got a new TV deal in North America worth double then the last one. Rugani slow?. You're slow.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 7:09pm
You need to see the bigger picture, Italian football has been rocking since 2006 and 11 years later have finally hit rock bottom. Our academy’s are poor we haven’t talent like the Germans, English and Spainish have. Our youth sector haven’t won anything. England win two world cups and and euro and reached another final. We need to follow their route if Italy is to come back. Italy won’t see a World Cup until 2026 at earliest. By then England would of won it. Even Ireland have surpassed us.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 6:52pm
Instead of going all emotional, why not put things into perspective FIGC corrupt? It is true, when a team fails, Giampiero Ventura will have to take a lot of blame.
For example, how is it possible, that Italy continue to play without proper balance. The team has no natural left back, yet they continue to use Matteo Damian there. But to say that d problem is Juventus' dominance, u r offside, unless u r suggesting, dat the rest of Europe is junk. Otherwise, how does Juventus reach the final?
on the 11th November, 2017 at 6:22pm
No talent, get real, we have a quality squad but an imbecile in charge. Even i would do a better job than this pathetic excuse of a manager. Ventura is the worst Italy manager I have ever witnessed. Denying a legend like Buffon a record breaking 6th WC and a chance to bow out on the biggest stage is unbelievable.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 6:21pm
Ventura needs to be sacked today. should of picked balotelli. even if on the bench he could come on and offer something different. he is big and strong and for sure would of finished that belotti chance early on. trouble maker or not does it really matter watching this rubbish team play. i got bored and dont actually care if we qualify. im not interested in watching us go to a tournament to get humiliated under ventura. better to miss out and start over with a better coach.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 5:39pm
Simple Italy are finished. Serie A been poor for years. One team winning the league for 6 years on a spin what a farce yet in Europe get absolutely destroyed in finals proves how poor the league is. FIGC corrupt to the core. Tavecchio and Ventura need to go ASAP.
Italy have no talent coming through. Good players yes but not a Baggio, Totti, Maldini standard. Donnarumma is awful. Rugani is slow. Can go on. Italy on par with Saudi Arabia. Time we accept we are a third rate nation.
on the 11th November, 2017 at 5:37pm

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.