The international football world has been waiting for two major events: World Cup 2018 and the retirement of Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon. As much as the fans do not want to see the end of the Italian legend’s career, they still know that day will come and want it to be as festive as possible. What would be a better retirement point, if not the end of a World Cup; the sixth in his career?
However, the dream of all the Italian football fans has crashed as Italy failed to enter WC-2018 group stage, after failing to defeat Sweden in playoffs. Moreover, Gli Azzurri did not score a single goal in the two-leg tie. Aside from unbelievable passion demonstrated by the Swedish team, several problems have been encountered in Italy squad and its playing tactics.
The one thing that stood out for all Italian football fans was the obvious lack of mobility in the central defense. The Bardzagli, Chiellini and Bonucci bond is strong and tested over time, however, during the two-leg clash they lacked mobility, the ability to start the attacks by long passes and be adaptive to the need to attack more and defend less. In general, the players who intended to prevent the sharp attacks of the opponents were doing it in a rather careless matter, bringing in two obvious penalty scares.
The defense was acting rude, excessively emotional and failed to start new attacking waves. However, creating chances is not their responsibility; we just expected a better game from players with the talent of that magnitude. Where were the ones who should have created the chances? Unfortunately, none of the five midfielders were able to show how they can be decent replacements for the team’s midfield legends like Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Del Piero or Francesco Totti. The average age of the midfield lined up for today’s clash is 28, so if any of these players aim to show their level, they had the opportunity to create another chance to demonstrate what they can do with the ball. However, they failed big time.
Important to note, that when we are talking about the talents of the midfield legends of Italy history, we do not only mean the unbelievable passing and field vision that could have been in use for today’s match. These players were deciding episodes, scoring from set-pieces and, finally, just providing the teammates with decent mood boosts. Unfortunately for the Italian football fans, the national team currently lacks a player with skills and characters bottled up in him. Mateo Darmian and Antonio Candreva, as well as other midfielders, currently fail to be the ones who can lead the team, and it can be observed from their club performance as well. All in all, Italy lacks a Number 10, who can create and decide at the same time.
Last, but not least, the team were in shortage of luck. They were hitting the bars, failing to reach the target while the for the player of their level it should have been nothing hard. Blaming the luck is not always correct when you face a mediocre and cannot even score a goal, but it is still one of the factors that kept Italy down. But you know, they say luck follows the champions.
So… now Italy is out of the World Cup and we will not witness a retirement that would be full of Italian passion and emotionality. Not only Buffon but also many other Italians, who are of decent age already, could have possibly ended their careers after the most anticipated tournament of the recent years. We all will miss the Italian pragmatic game and counterattacks, the effective game against the German Machine, and of course, the passion. But to be honest with you, I think in this situation we, the football fans and World Cup 2018 have lost more than Gil Azzurri.
Interesting fact: Italy will be missing a World Cup for the first time since 1958. It is not the first time that Sweden plays a decisive role in Italy’s history. In 1988 the Swedish team prevented Italy from entering the European Championship’s group stage (home 1-0, away 2-1).