Italy haven’t won a World Cup knockout game since they won the tournament itself in 2006. They won’t get a chance to win another one until 2026.
Credit to Nicky Bandini on Twitter for that nugget and it is truly astonishing when you consider Italy as one of the real powerhouses of world football.
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Heck, this team won the European Championships less than a year ago but now won’t be at the World Cup after a shambolic qualifying period.
In order to get a little bit more information we got in touch with Simone Eterno and Carlofilippo Vardelli from Eurosport Italy to get some reaction to the disaster.
“Italy could have easily been in the World Cup,” began Eterno. “But they missed two penalties in the two decisive matches against group winners Switzerland (both by Chelsea’s Jorginho).

Giorgio Chiellini and Jorginho of Italy reacts at the end of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier knockout round play-off match between Italy and North Macedonia at Stadio Comunale Renzo Barbera

Image credit: Getty Images

“If those had been scored we wouldn’t be in this situation.”
In the group stage, Italy scored just 13 goals. For reference, of all the teams to finish in the top two places of their group only Sweden and Ukraine scored fewer.
“It is true this is a team that struggles to score goals,” admitted Eterno.
“The best player in the squad, Federico Chiesa, is out with a torn ligament, and without him Italy has an average collection in terms of goalscorers.
“Ciro Immobile and his ‘fake goals’ are a classic case of this. What I mean by ‘fake’ goals is that he scores a lot for Lazio but not always when it is a big game and particularly he goes missing when with the national team.

Ciro Immobile (Italia)

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“On Thursday, they were asking Sassuolo to perform a miracle (because Italy ended up with Domenico Berardi and Giacomo Raspadori up front). As I said before the match, Italy were asking Sassuolo to send them to the World Cup, and if you are asking Sassuolo to do this something is not working in terms of strikers.
"Particularly when you consider the strikers in the past such as Francesco Totti, Alessandro Del Piero, Pippo Inzaghi, Christian Vieri, Luca Toni etc.”
Was there anyone else manager Roberto Mancini could have called up to help? “No, definitely not,” replied Vardelli. “Mario Balotelli would not have solved the problems.”
However defensively, Vardelli felt that “maybe Mancini could have called up Calabria in the role of right-back, put Tonali in the place of Barella and give more space to either Zaniolo, Pellegrini and Raspadori.”
So will Mancini survive this?
“We will see,” said Eterno. “President of the federation Gravina just said: ‘We have a project with him, we go on.’
“The truth we need to see in few days/weeks. He has some responsibility as well, of course, as does everyone involved in this disaster. But changing the manager doesn't mean that Immobile, Berarardi and so on will become Totti, Vieri and Del Piero...”

Roberto Mancini

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So to finish up, does this feel better or worse than the failure in 2018?
“It's the same disaster,” Vardelli said.
Failing to qualify for the world championship, if your name is Italy, is a disaster.
“Logically, after the victory in July there were many expectations for this group of players, but compared to 2018 there are no differences.
“The only difference was seen in the reaction of the people: in 2017-2018 there was anger, today there is only great disappointment.
“Going from victory in the European championship to defeat against North Macedonia is a terrible blow. It will be difficult to swallow.”
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