In a shocking turn of events, Italy has failed to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958 on Monday as the match ended to a 0-0 draw in the second leg of their play-off at the San Siro by Sweden, who qualified with a victory of 1-0 in aggregate score.
The four-time world champions dominated possession but had a hard time creating enough clear-cut chances, as Sweden secured their appearance in the world cup at the finals since 2006 courtesy of Jakob Johansson’s first-leg strike in Stockholm.
Despite a huge support from 74,000 fans in a white-hot atmosphere at the San Siro the 2006 World Cup winners could not find a way through. As the clock ticked the crowd at the San Siro began to sing the national anthem.
It is the third time that the Italians will meet disappointment at the World Cup, after not going to the first edition in 1930 and not qualifying in the 1958 finals in Sweden. It also marks the last appearance in the world cup for iconic goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon who will not be able to compete in his sixth World Cup. At 39, the 175-times capped Buffon had announced that the finals in Russia would be his last as a player for the national side.
Without star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who retired from the national team after Euro 2016, Sweden managed to make a return in the tournament after failing to reach the last two editions. The last time the Scandinavians participated in the world cup was in 2006. Let us see what they make of the opportunity this time.