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Monday July 16 2018
The saddest summer

The 2018 World Cup has concluded and Italy fans like Giancarlo Rinaldi found it an oddly empty experience watching from the outside.

The family group chat buzzed only occasionally. We set it up to share our thoughts during the last European Nations and kept it alive for the joy and desperation that only following the Azzurri can provide. Throughout the World Cup in Russia, however, it sat as an all-too-often-silent reminder of Italy's failure to qualify for the first time in a generation or two.

By and large, we agreed, this was a tournament that we would not be watching. People can sometimes mistake us for fans of football in general, but it is really only the green-white-and-red variety that gets our pulses racing. No Nazionale, no party. We, like Andrea Pirlo, were not impressed.

What to make, then, of the events unfolding before our eyes? Yes, we took glee in the demise of some of our old rivals, but that has a hollow feeling compared with celebrating a victory. Like dining on any cuisine other than our own - no matter how good it might be - we knew deep down we were selling ourselves short.

You could watch for your Serie A favourites, of course, and they gave us some entertainment along the way, plus all the free bet offers online. Who knew - when the tournament kicked off - that Juventini would be celebrating the signing of a man who so insensitively booted them out of the Champions League just a few weeks earlier? Would anyone have suspected that Inter would continue their proud record of having a player in every Final since 1982? And what on earth must Milan flop Nikola Kalinic have been thinking when he watched his countrymen compete for international football's biggest prize while he sat kicking his heels at home?

His regrets were probably only trumped by our own as we watched the side that conquered Giampiero Ventura's troops march on to an improbable quarter-final. I admit, Sweden surprised me at these championships, as I somewhat churlishly forecast they would fail to score a single goal. Hats off to them for getting so far, although that only fuelled more "what might have been" messages among Italy fans.

It's no use, of course, dwelling on that as it ends up being something of a dead-end debate anyway. The standard of football on display - in general - did not look breathtaking, but we would do well to remember just how poor we were in qualification and how effortlessly France dismissed us in their warm-up.

The players and potential are there - if correctly nurtured and organised - to put those famous shirts back where they belong in time. However, for now, we have to sup on this most bitter post-tournament amaro without complaint.

It has been more relaxing, yes, that I must confess. None of the agitation and emotion that a major competition usually stirs up was provided over the past month. Instead, I watched most games dispassionately and coolly studied the strengths and weaknesses of the sides involved. I admired their talent and decried their shortcomings. I watched their fates decided in the maelstrom of penalty kicks. And, dear Lord, how boring I found it all.

Not, of course, for the countries involved - but for we Azzurri fans it has been a torturous four weeks or so. Most of us have never known a World Cup without at least some group stage involvement and agonising elimination. Many can remember seeing the trophy lifted once or possibly twice in their lifetime. Our enforced abstinence from battle this year has been like uncorking the best bottle in your cellar and then watching someone else drink it.

So please, everyone with anything to do with Italian football, do everything in your power to get us to Qatar in four years’ time when the next one rolls around because this is not an experience any of us is keen to repeat. For all the anguish and heartache you sometimes provide, we'd still prefer it to this emptiness. We need that fire of delight and despair that only the boys in blue can provide. Give us back those intense moments of celebration and commiseration that we lost out on this time. We've missed that magical madness - one summer like this one is more than enough.

Have your say...
At Varsavia, yes, there are ... Balotelli ain't bad.. Zappacosta and Darmian are playing on top flight teams... but I get your point.. not a lot of Italians outside of Italy.. but never have been, really... Italians have usually stayed in Italy.. Totti was once courted by Real but he chose ti stayed put at Roma
on the 19th July, 2018 at 11:12am
Are there any Italian-born top quality players in ligues other than Serie A?
on the 18th July, 2018 at 12:12pm
Shortly before the 2018 WC, Italy played the World Champions France in Nice in a friendly. France fielded 11 players that formed the core of their World Cup Championship side and Italy fielded an experimental 11 players. France were the better team and won the match 3-1, but looking back now, I take encouragement from this result. A young experimental Italian side losing 3-1 to the World Champions on their own soil isn’t a bad result at all. A strong Italian team playing France on Italian soil..
on the 18th July, 2018 at 9:27am
As always I enjoyed watching the 2018 WC , yet as an Azzurri fan it also felt empty. I was both sad the Azzurri failed to qualify and angry that Italy had not invested in it's youth players. With Didier Deschamps at the helm France cruised through the tournament with efficient economy. They seemed to be playing at 70% throughout only playing at 100% when required, as they did against Argentina and Croatia. Italy may have failed to qualify but IMO France won Italian style!
on the 18th July, 2018 at 12:18am
2018 taught us many things:

1) Teams that barely scrape through their opponents time and again aren't champions.

2) More importantly though, it's always teams and not individuals in the biggest stage of the world that make the difference. If England manage it to reach a deep run, Italy can do the same in every tournament.

3) For that reason, Ventura's appointment was a huge mistake. He might not be the sole reason for failure, but whoever appointed him deserves most blame.
on the 17th July, 2018 at 7:09pm
To say the WC was not enjoyable because Italy was not there is a misrepresentation. I live, eat and breathe AZZURRO, but this World Cup was a very exciting one and the quality shown from smaller countries was refreshing. Much like the world was sad not to see Italy playing, Italians must respect those who participated and above all learn from the lesson taught. Mancini will do well if he approaches the Azzurri like his previous tenures as a coach and a player.
on the 17th July, 2018 at 6:14pm
THE IMPORTANCE OF CLUB SIDES " BLOCKS "
----------------------------------------------

To do as well as we possibly can we have to consider "consolidating" the National team with "blocks" of players used to TRAIN and play together.

We have to progress maybe at a medium pace, but surely.

For instance:

Perin, De Sciglio, Spinazzola, Darmian, Caldara, Rugani, Romagna with Chiellini as the "senior" leader.
Also Romagnoli + Florenzi as the added possible first teamers. Even Buffon for now....
on the 17th July, 2018 at 4:28pm
ITALIA 2018
-----------------------


Let's just be clear about one thing................

Had Conte carried on as coach, ITALY, in the easy side of the draw, without having to face any meaningful calcio power, aside Croatia, would have at the very least a 50% chance of reaching the FINAL of the World Cup.
on the 17th July, 2018 at 3:44pm
"Yes, we took glee in the demise of some of our old rivals, but that has a hollow feeling compared with celebrating a victory."

Everything you mentioned is exactly how I felt.
Bring back Italy to winning ways.
on the 17th July, 2018 at 2:12am
"do everything in your power to get us to Qatar in four years’ time"

Hope that Infantino increases Qatar to 48 teams, because Italy will be in Pot 2 again, thanks to the previous regime. And pray we don't end up in a group with France, Belgium, Germany or Spain.
on the 17th July, 2018 at 1:38am
Gees someone got upset about me neglecting to mention Juve. Yes Juve has pace (although I'm not sure how well they use it). Napoli were probably the only team to really exploit pace.

@ Anonymous I already have a well paid job. As an anonymous contributor I don't need to worry about editors or facts.
on the 17th July, 2018 at 1:35am
@Paolo I missed the Azzurri/National Anthem. Lot of WC records set Buffons 5th WC appearance would had been added as well.
Italy and Holland were missed...even the USA missed a good chance...to make it an even greater wide open WC.
Sweden absolutely belonged there. Peru Tunisia Panama did not!
Ironic sidenote: Conte left a weak Azzurri in disarray for Chelsea who after 2 seasons was fired,even after WINNING title in 1 shot. while letting Ventura sail the ship into rocks. What if he stayed on ?
on the 17th July, 2018 at 1:10am
...just lucky. Again lopsided bracket. Cmon fifa reseed the brackets in playoff stage.
Belgium v Spain or France v England final would have been a great end to tournament. Oh England you are truly hopeless lol.
...as for the sad-anger and what ifs had Azzurri made it...sigh. W/Ventura only failure was eminent. Perhaps with Mancini/Conte we mighta did what Croatia did!
Can you imagine a Fra-Ita rematch with Buffon in very last game?! aw man. Could of happened.
Let’s hope 2026 isn’t 48 teams.
on the 17th July, 2018 at 12:51am
To me this WC viewing as total neutral was surprisingly exciting and 90% of games were great. Some beauty goals,close / very late goals / pk drama games. Twas a total open WC.felt anyone could win.Sweden Denmark,Croatia,* Switzerland all wild cards who could of made it to final.
CR7 showed up v Spain } best game imo. Messi/Arg drama. Upsets of Germany and Spain, and even Brazil was great. Belgium was fn’ amazing really hoped they won it all. France to me wasn’t specially impressive at all...
on the 17th July, 2018 at 12:34am
Cheer up Gianni

It's a great summer for Juventus tifosi.

Bought Ronaldo
Bought Costa
Bought Perin
Bought Cancelo
Brought Can
Brought Caldara

With more to come. #Finoallafine
on the 16th July, 2018 at 8:50pm
Seriously, Giancarlo Rinaldi!?! How can you be or call yourself a football journalist, yet, make this horrendous statement: "...it is really only the green-white-and-red variety that gets our pulses racing." This is like saying you're a Dr and finding out all cancer has been cured in the world, but because it wasn't an Italian that came up with the cure, you are sad and can't be bothered to be part of the celebration. This is a very hormonal-teenage mentality.
on the 16th July, 2018 at 7:00pm
They is a certain irony that england gets into the semi final a country in which 30% of the players in the epl are domestic where as in italy and most european top leagues it is 50%.

It is just absurd you have a club like genoa who produced some one like pellegri and eddy salcedo instead on actually keeping these guys and developing they sell off one in winter and probably salcedo in the summer mercato. What the point of having a youth academy it is just so counterproductive.
on the 16th July, 2018 at 6:57pm
Nah i disagree if italy had qualified it would still probably be ventura italy who won't be missed, the only element i missed was the italy fans. It wasn't a great world cup anyway rather mediocre the best thing about it was the progression of the smaller teams into the later stages of the competition little old England getting to a semi final.
on the 16th July, 2018 at 6:52pm
Absolutely disagree. I am Azzurri through and through and thought it was an excellent world cup. It had everything you would want from an international competition. I did long for an Italy match when England were moving further ahead in the tournament, but outside of that, there was no stress, no anxiety. It was a worry free tournament. I think regardless of the idiotic penalty decision France would have won the final. They were never in doubt and are by far the strongest international side.
on the 16th July, 2018 at 4:22pm
Was a good tournament and France deserved it. Scary thing is how young the side is and they have a new superstar coming out of Ligue 1 every year right now. DD is the best manager for them as hes getting them playing as a functional side whilst relying on individual brilliance it obviously works. We have a lot of talent and Mancini has started well, no reason we cant do very well in 2020 once Mancini gets his system implemented, we should be going in with the best defence on paper to be honest.
on the 16th July, 2018 at 4:12pm
Disagree, it was important to watch WC18, it informed us Italy aren't the only ones with problems. Italy's mess was born under Conte & Ventura; both didnt introduce enough younger generation players into the team & were tactically dumb & too rigid. Conte's no tactician, never will be, other than determination Italy learnt nothing from him. Ventura...enough said! For 4yrs the team was badly run. WC14 was a real shame because I think Prandelli had better ideas. Either way onwards & upwards now!
on the 16th July, 2018 at 3:44pm
@ maldini why dont you just come right out and ask FI for a job man lol. Come on FI at least he will be better thanw suzy hahahahhahahahahahha!!!!
on the 16th July, 2018 at 3:28pm
Weird world cup but not because Italy were missing. All the big teams bar France turned up. Despite all the talk of Germany reinventing themselves, they flopped. Argies need to publicly flog their manager. England will never have a better chance to get to a final...they need massive improvements to avoid embarrassment at the Euros. France deserved it but credit to Croatia. Italy could have done OK but wouldn't have come short against France/Belgium. Not big ground to make up given the rest.
on the 16th July, 2018 at 3:22pm
They didn't deserve to be there. Sweden were awful. They had no business getting as far as they did. Yes, Italy had a terrible manager but I'm sorry, a bad Italy team should still beat a very bad Sweden team. Over two legs they couldn't score a single goal? It sucked not having them there but it was their own fault!
on the 16th July, 2018 at 2:34pm
Maldini's Heir??? Doesn't Juve have pace? are you clueless? Cuadrado isn't exactly slow either. Costa is as fast as lightning so I don't know how you can write those comments. That's the problem with the internet too many clueless people have a place to voice their idiotic opinions
on the 16th July, 2018 at 12:49pm
Maldini's Heir??? Doesn't Juve have pace? are you clueless? Cuadrado isn't exactly slow either. Costa is as fast as lightning so I don't know how you can write those comments. That's the problem with the internet too many clueless people have a place to voice their idiotic opinions
on the 16th July, 2018 at 12:49pm
Maldini's Heir??? Doesn't Juve have pace? are you clueless? Cuadrado isn't exactly slow either. Costa is as fast as lightning so I don't know how you can write those comments. That's the problem with the internet too many clueless people have a place to voice their idiotic opinions
on the 16th July, 2018 at 12:48pm
Maldini's Heir??? Doesn't Juve have pace? are you clueless? Cuadrado isn't exactly slow either. Costa is as fast as lightning so I don't know how you can write those comments. That's the problem with the internet too many clueless people have a place to voice their idiotic opinions
on the 16th July, 2018 at 12:47pm
Maldini's Heir ? are you saying Juventus don't have pace? with Douglas Costa and Cuadrado? are you awake? Costa is as quick as lightning!! Before you write down your comments you should really think about what your typing. Clueless people with too many opinions!
on the 16th July, 2018 at 12:42pm
The french played the Zidane style, kill the game and try to score one and only one goal. It is rubbish when looking at the french players qualities. Zidane and co killed the beauty of football
on the 16th July, 2018 at 11:47am

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