‘This is the apocalypse’: Italian press mourns nation’s World Cup exit

Guardian sport on 14 November 2017

“Italy, this is the apocalypse,” was the headline in the country’s leading sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday morning, perhaps an understandable reaction for a nation whose passion for football is so great that the same publication concluded that “a love so great must be reserved for other things [than the World Cup]”.

Put in context the facts make stark reading. Italy’s abject failure in front of goal against Sweden, who held the Azzurri to a 0-0 draw in the San Siro stadium, meant the hosts lost 1-0 on aggregate and failed to qualify for the tournament for the first time in 60 years, when in 1958 the finals were, appropriately, hosted by the team who halted their progress on Monday.

Italy 1-3 France (1 Sep 2016)

An inauspicious start to his tenure as his side are comprehensively second best in a friendly

Spain 3-0 Italy (2 Sep 2017)

A defence renowned for being tight is torn apart at the Bernabéu, with Isco scoring twice to leave Italy staring at the prospect of a play-off

Italy 1-1 Macedonia (6 Oct 2017)

Italy must win to have any chance of qualifying automatically but a lifeless display leads to the world's 85th best team equalising in the 77th minute, causing an eruption of booing at the final whistle in Turin

Sweden 1-0 Italy (10 Nov 2017)

Italy lack invention and barely threaten the Sweden goal as a deflected Jakob Johansson strike is enough to leave Italy on the brink of missing out on Russia 2018

Italy fail to qualify for World Cup for first time in 60 years (13 Nov 2017)

Italy have 75% of possession and 23 shots on goal but look predictable. With the score 0-0, they desperately need a goal but Ventura leaves the creative forward Lorenzo Insigne on the bench. The final whistle blows and Italy have lost 1-0 on aggregate. "Apocalypse, tragedy, catastrophe," says the Italian press

Uruguay were the previous World Cup winners who failed to advance to the finals in 2006, but prior to that statisticians had to go back to 1994 when England and France were knocked out during qualification and before that another 20 years back to Spain in 1974.

La Gazzetta blamed “opportunities missed”. The paper’s editorial read: “We will not be with you and you will not be with us. Italy will not participate at the World Cup. There will be inevitable consequences.” Inevitably that will mean the departure of widely criticised head coach Gian Piero Ventura, who initially was mistakenly reported to have quit in the immediate aftermath of the match.

La Gazzetta were in no doubt: “Ventura, now it’s over,” identifying Carlo Ancelotti as one potential successor. The Italian is currently out of work after leaving Bayern Munich. “Whoever comes in will have to rebuild from rubble and work towards Euro 2020,” read the article. “The most fancied name is Ancelotti but there is the possibility [Chelsea manager Antonio] Conte will return, as he is a bit tired of England.

“Very welcome alternatives would be [Roberto] Mancini and [Massimiliano] Allegri, if they can leave their respective roles at Zenit St Petersburg and Juventus.”

The front page of the other major sports daily, Corriere dello Sport, read simply: “Italy out of the World Cup”, stating how painful it will be for the country to be on the sidelines when the finals are under way in Russia next June.

“In only a few months’ time we will be watching the World Cup for everyone else: for the first time in 60 years we will be on the outside,” the newspaper commented in an editorial piece. “It is an intolerable football shame, an indelible stain.”

The online headline in the Italian broadsheet La Repubblica read simply: “Goodbye Russia”, while Turin’s La Stampa proclaimed: “Disaster for Italy, we won’t be going to the World Cup.”

Latest Football News