International round-up: Italy out of the World Cup for the first time since 1958, Rodriguez and Kalinić will be in Russia

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Leonardo Bonucci and Gianluigi Buffon at the end of the Sweden-Italy FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off second leg at Stadio San Siro on November 13, 2017 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Leonardo Bonucci and Gianluigi Buffon at the end of the Sweden-Italy FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off second leg at Stadio San Siro on November 13, 2017 in Milano, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Monday was a very dark night in the history of Italy as they failed to qualify for the World Cup. Franck Kessié will also not play in Russia in 2018, but Ricardo Rodriguez & Nikola Kalinić will.

After losing 1-0 in the first leg, Italy faced Sweden for the second leg of the FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifier play-off at Stadio San Siro on Monday night.

Gian Piero Ventura played Leonardo Bonucci from the start in a back-three, leaving Gianluigi Donnarumma on the bench. Ventura (finally) played Napoli’s Jorginho from the start but inexplicably left arguably the best Italian player right now, Lorenzo Insigne, sitting on a cooler next to the bench for the entire match.

Italy had all the possession in the world as Sweden spent the whole match defending (very well) and trying to hit the Azzurri on the break. But Italy just couldn’t score as there were so many bad crosses, bad decisions in the final third and some excellent saves from F.C. Copenhagen keeper Robin Olsen.

Ventura brought on Andrea Belotti, Stephan El Shaarawy and Federico Bernardeschi in order to try to score a goal and take the match to extra-time. But even De Rossi screamed at one of Ventura’s staff members when he told him to start warming up, as he was caught on video saying ‘why the f*** should I go on? We need to win, not draw’ and then pointed at Insigne, who will face Milan Saturday.

Andrea Belotti, Ciro Immobile and Leonardo Bonucci at the end of the end of the Sweden-Italy FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off second leg at Stadio San Siro on November 13, 2017 in Milan, Italy. (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Andrea Belotti, Ciro Immobile and Leonardo Bonucci at the end of the end of the Sweden-Italy FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off second leg at Stadio San Siro on November 13, 2017 in Milan, Italy. (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

After 93 tense minutes, Antonio Mateu Lahoz blew his whistle for the final time. Italy paid for the continuous stubbornness and stupidity of Ventura. They are out of the World Cup. For the first time since 1958. People have lived their entire life knowing that some things are constant: Italy being in the World Cup was one of them. But not anymore. Ventura must go, FIGC President Carlo Tavecchio must go, this is a failure of unbelievable magnitude, a truly tragic and dark night in Calcio history.

Gianluigi Buffon retired from the Azzurri and now Gigio Donnarumma will be the first-choice goalkeeper of Italy. Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini also played their last Italy match last night (De Rossi retired as well), making way for the likes of Alessio Romagnoli, Daniele Rugani and Mattia Caldara. A new generation must grow from this ‘apocalypse’ as the Italian newspapers are calling it.

Croatia players celebrating at the end of the Greece-Croatia FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off second leg at Karaiskakis Stadium on November 12 2017, in Piraeus, Greece. (ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Croatia players celebrating at the end of the Greece-Croatia FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off second leg at Karaiskakis Stadium on November 12 2017, in Piraeus, Greece. (ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP/Getty Images)

The 0-0 result was not good for Italy, but it worked just fine for Croatia. Ante Čačić played Nikola Kalinić for 78 minutes on Sunday night in the second leg against Greece in Piraeus. Croatia had a 4-1 lead from the first leg and they their job in the second to book a place in Russia in 2018.

Ricardo Rodriguez meanwhile was once again instrumental for Switzerland as they took on Northern Ireland. The Swiss had a 1-0 lead heading into the second leg thanks to a Rodriguez penalty in Belfast. Switzerland nearly paid in the 90′ minute for the incompetence of striker Haris Seferović, who had a shocking night, but Rodriguez made a crucial goal-line clearance to keep it 0-0 until the end.

Switzerland and Croatia have both qualified for the World Cup, but Franck Kessié and Ivory Coast failed. On Saturday they hosted Morocco in a direct clash for a place in Russia, but lost 2-0. Nabil Dirar (25′) and Medhi Benatia (30′) scored for the Atlas Lions. Kessié will watch the World Cup on TV.

Ricardo Rodriguez celebrating with his Switzerland teammates at the end of the Switzerland-Northern Ireland at St. Jakob-Park Stadium on November 12 2017 in Basel, Switzerland. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Ricardo Rodriguez celebrating with his Switzerland teammates at the end of the Switzerland-Northern Ireland at St. Jakob-Park Stadium on November 12 2017 in Basel, Switzerland. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Friendlies are also played in this break and last evening Hakan Çalhanoğlu played 74 minutes as Turkey were defeated 3-2 by Albania in Antalya. The Milan midfielder was not among the scorers. Turkey, like Italy and Ivory Coast, will not be playing in the World Cup next summer.

Matteo Gabbia‘s Italy U19 friendly against Hungary U19 was cancelled. Moving on to today’s matches, Suso will look to finally get his Spain debut when they play Russia in Saint Petersburg (19:45 CET kickoff) after coach Julen Lopetegui didn’t get him involved in the 5-0 win of Spain against Costa Rica on Saturday. André Silva and Portugal take on the USA in Leiria (20:45 CET kickoff) while Colombia and Cristian Zapata have a match against China in Chongqing (13:30 CET kickoff).

Italy U21 also have a match today, they face Russia U21 in Frosinone (18:30 CET). Manuel Locatelli, who captained the Azzurrini in their friendly against Pescara, and Patrick Cutrone, will be in action.

15 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t think there can be any one in the whole world that is more miserable than Phil or Philadon who wholeheartedly supports USA, ITALY & AC MILAN football teams. My condolence to you man!!!

    • I am in the same boat. I am from USA and my ancestors are from Italy. And I support milan. Not a good time period for any of them.

      It is pretty disappointing because this World Cup will be very dull for me. Guess I’ll root for the under dogs or any teams with milan players on them!

      • Same here and I support Ferrari in F1 and they just gave away the championship this year so it really sucks. Also, I live in Southern California and there’s a lot of dodgers fans that I know. Lol

  2. I can barely believe that Sweden made it through a group with France and Netherlands and then knock out Italy from the World cup play off… Im happy but also sad at the same time feel sorry for all the Italians and especially Buffon

  3. “Stubbornness and stupidity” exactly mr meytar. And thats exactly what will also happen to milan if the mgmt still dont have cojones to sack “stubborn and stupid” morontella asap.
    Regarding italy nt, italy played like crap all through qf so they deserved to be ko’d. However, anyone who blames 3-5-2, not ventura and/or morontella, for italy’s and milan’s misfortune clearly needs to lay down on something soft and wear helmet and knee/elbow pads so he wouldnt hurt himself and others nearby. Euro ’16 anyone? Didnt italy with conte at the helm comprehensively beat spain in euro ’16 using 3-5-2? If it werent for their stupid penalty takers and the fact that germany is king of penalty shoot out, italy could have been through to sf and even final. Its not the formation, its the coach and his brain that matter most.
    Oh, and thank god milan didnt get beloverrated for >80m. that might have been more tragic than andy carroll/benteke/balo to lvpool.

  4. Somehow I feels both Donna and Perin should be given equal chance after Buffon retired..
    Donna is not mature enough and a competition will be good for him (unlike what he has in Milan)

  5. Condolences to all Azzurri fans. Awful pity to be eliminated, but I think there’s a decent core of capable young lads already integrated into the team, let alone promising players on the fringes.
    The likes of Donnarumma, Romagnoli, Belotti, El Shaarawy, Pellegrini etc already have experience, plus many footballing years left on their respective clocks, while there’s huge untapped potential in players such as Cutrone.
    In any case, can ye all light a candle for Ireland tonight!! lol

  6. As a Dane I’m obviously very happy that Denmark made it, but I like Italy, it will be surreal to not see them next summer. Buffon is such a class act and he will be missed. I’m a die hard Milan fan, but it is not difficult at all to love this Juve man. I found his description of fans of all Italian teams coming together to support Italy very touching. We should remember this in our daily lives and use it as an example of how to act, instead of the usual bitterness and division. If sports isn’t for fun and bringing people together, then what is it good for? Right now Milan is not doing so well, but why not still enjoy the game and the experience with other fans? Is it really worth all the complaining and moaning? Your enjoyment of the game has nothing to do with the team winning or losing, it has to do with your own approach.

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