Sweden eliminates Italy to clinch World Cup 2018 berth

Antonio Conte Chelsea

A desperate 0-0 draw at home to a defiant, belligerent and technically inferior Sweden ended the four-time world champions' hopes of reaching next year's finals in Russian Federation and with it the global careers of several of Italy's biggest names.

That's because Italy, the country that has won four World Cups and is nearly always considered to be one of the favorites at major soccer events, failed to qualify for next year's tournament and won't be going to Russian Federation.

The four time winners were beaten by Sweden in their play-off match so talkSPORT.com looks at what the world was like the last time the Azzurri were not at football's biggest event. "We just had to sit there and hope that we could hang on", he said.

"I'm not sorry for myself but all of Italian football, because we failed at something which also means something on a social level".

Here, we pick out a talented XI who will be twiddling their thumbs rather than lighting up the world stage next summer. "There can't be scapegoats", said the 39-year-old player.

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"It is really very sad because watching the World Cup was something that really brought us together as Italians", said recent graduate Stefania Pusateri, heading for the exit after watching the match in a Rome bar.

"I have never experienced anything like this", said goalkeeper Robin Olsen. Resignation? I have to evaluate an infinity of issues.

Sweden survived wave after wave of Italian attacks in the second leg of their European playoff on a night of unremitting tension and drama at a disbelieving San Siro.

Asked by a reporter from Italian television programme "Le Iene" if he will resign his post after the Azzurri lost 1-0 on aggregate to Sweden, Ventura replied: "Yes". "I just thought perhaps it was better that Insigne come on instead".

Failure to qualify has heaped pressure on Italy boss Gian Piero Ventura, with the sport daily Corriere dello Sport calling for him to step down, while the headline in La Gazzetta dello Sport read "Italy, this is the apocalypse".

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