Six months after winning the Euro, the elimination from the World Cup has made it clear: Italy is no longer a five-star team

Azzurri out of Qatar 2022
Azzurri out of Qatar 2022
Josh Perry

published 14:09, 03 March 2022

Italy will watch the World Cup 2022 from home

The sensational elimination against Northern Macedonia meant Italy would see the World Cup at home for the second time in a row and again exposed the deterioration in the quality of the Italian footballer. Winning the Euro 2020 last summer was justified, but the names and abilities of the current Azzurri team are far from mentioning those we have become accustomed to seeing. And when the next generation isn’t good enough, the future is shrouded in fog.

Here is a small reminder of the Euro 2020 cup holders used to look like:

48 wins, 11 draws, and zero losses was Italy’s form in home games in World Cup qualifiers until the night before yesterday night. A rate résumé but a little misleading, and through it, you can learn just how drastic the decline of the Empire is. Since the victory over Israel in September 2017, Italy has played seven home games and got only two victories over weak Northern Ireland and Lithuania. Bulgaria, northern Macedonia, Switzerland, Italy did not win at home, causing the draw against the Swiss to eventually cost her the automatic ticket to Qatar 2022.

What is Happpeing to the Azzurri team?

Until four years ago, Italy had missed out on the World Cup only once in history – when they were kicked off in qualifying for the tournament in 1958. And here, after the elimination in the playoffs against Sweden in 2017 and the missed tournament in Russia, Italy was embraced when they played in Palermo by Northern Macedonia and did not even make the playoff final from which to qualify for Qatar 2022. Second consecutive elimination in the qualifying stage and a massive blow to Azzuri and Italian football.

Missing a World Cup after 60 years was sad and depressing, but when it happens for the second time in a row, and even after a home loss to a lesser team, it’s a rocky earthquake. “If Italy does not qualify for the World Cup again, it will be an apocalypse,” Carlo Tavecchio, the chairman of the Italian Federation, said before the game. Well – apocalypse now. And the drama only intensifies when you consider the fact that this is the reigning European champion.

But beyond entering the Euro winners’ club that were not at the World Cup before winning nor the one after that (the fourth time this happens), then the Italian win of the European Championship – which was justified – was a bit prevalent in the problems of Italian football and the team. Coach Roberto Mancini may have managed to lift the team, register a world record for an unbeaten streak of games, and of course, win the Euros – with penalties in the semi-finals and finals- but the great ability at the Euros cannot change the macro picture of the Azurri team. Today, Italy is no longer a team at the top of the football world.

The chain of events causing Italy to fail to qualify for the World Cup

It didn’t start yesterday. Even in the last two World Cups in which Italy did participate, it failed and didn’t qualify from the group stage. In 2010, the deposed champion syndrome, which happened at all the last World Cups, in 2014 in a highly challenging group was very difficult, and still. Italy’s last time in the most luxurious knocked-out competition was in the 2006 World Cup final. The next time, maybe, won’t be until 2026. Incomprehensible.

You can look at its lineup against Northern Macedonia and compare it to the one he played in 2006 to understand what happened to Italy. The right defender, for example, was then Gianluca Zambrotta, who the day before yesterday was Alessandro Florenzi. In 2006, the center-backs were Fabio Cannavaro and Marco Materazzi, on Thursday it was Alessandro Bastoni and Gianluca Mancini, long live the difference. The deterioration in the quality of the Italian defence is nothing new, and it is also the one that has brought the veteran Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini back to the squad (and they also starred in the Euro), but the decline in quality is also evident in other parts of the grass.

Rapid decline in the quality of the Italian footballer

With all due respect to Marco Verratti or Jorginho, they are not Gennaro Gattuso or Andrea Pirlo(not to mention that Jorginho, like left defender Emerson, are Brazilian); With all due respect to Ciro Immobile or Domenico Berardi, you can’t even compare them to the great Francesco Totti. When Lorenzo Insigne was substituted the day before yesterday in the 61st minute, the one who came in in his place was Giacomo Raspadori of Sassuolo. Probably not a familiar name to those who don’t follow Italian football closely.

Del Piero 2006 goal celebration

Del Piero in FIFA World Cup Germany 2006, qulity that cannot be matched (Image:

In 2006, Italy had a player like Alessandro Del Piero on the bench, and in the memorable semi-final against Germany, it was he who came off the bench, changed the game and scored the second goal in a 2-0 victory.

Yes, Federico Chiesa is injured, and with him on the pitch, maybe things would have looked different, but that’s just an excuse. There are always injured players who cannot participate. The obvious trend is that of a decline in the quality of the Italian player, and perhaps not coincidentally, the local teams – despite the fascinating league – are not doing well in Europe either. Five years have passed since an Italian team’s last visit to the Champions League final, 12 years have passed since the last win, and in the last two years, there is not even an Italian team in the quarter-finals.

"Our goal is to go to the World Cup, it's the only scenario I see,"

“Our goal is to go to the World Cup, it’s the only scenario I see,” coach Mancini said before the game, and even if there were those who questioned Italy’s ability to beat Portugal in a game that would no longer take place, on the ticket to Qatar, no one believed they would fail at home against North Macedonia. The European champions and sixth in the world rankings against a team in 67th place, with players from the leagues in Slovakia, Saudi Arabia, Croatia and Cyprus.

“The competition has become more difficult, there are good players from all over the world, and the tendency of Italian teams to bring players up to adults at a later age is also hurtful. The bottom line is that the Italian player is no longer at the top tier of the football world as he was,” says Fabio Liqueri of Gazzetta Dello Sport, indicating that this phenomenon has been happening for several years. A lot of the Italian players are older and irreplaceable, the younger generation is less good, and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who made a mistake against Macedonia, gives the feeling that comparisons to Gianluigi Buffon were made too soon and too quickly.

“Four years ago, it was weird walking around the World Cup as a guest, without covering the team,” says Likari, “it’s a fiasco that this thing is happening again.” “After the previous World Cup they replaced a coach, and Mancini certainly did a good job with what he had,” he adds, “but the problem is that the underlying problems of the Italian footballer were not addressed. This time we need to do a real root canal.” By the way, according to reports, the leading candidate for the position is Fabio Cannavaro. However, such processes take quite a while, and in the meantime, the blue heart is broken again – and the Azurri will again see the World Cup from home.

You cannot copy content of this page