Italy Miss First World Cup In 60 Years As Sweden Qualify

The makeup of next year's World Cup finals may have looked a lot different had Federation Internationale de Football Association been bold enough to implement the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system for the qualifiers for Russia 2018.

This Monday, November 13, 2017 (11:45 AM Pacific) Italy will host Sweden at the San Siro for the second leg of a UEFA World Cup qualifier play-off. There's regret at finishing like that, not because time passes.

"It is certainly a moment of high tension, considering what is at stake and the sense of responsibility each of us must bear", said Buffon, who will earn his 175th cap in the San Siro.

For this final roll of the dice Ventura finally turned to Jorginho, the Napoli midfielder who had previously played 24 minutes of senior worldwide football and had not been considered worthy of a place in the squad since last May, 20 global matches ago.

It was enough for Sweden, who will play at the finals for the first time since 2006 - the same year in which Italy were last crowned champions of the world.

Much-maligned Italian head coach Gian Piero Ventura has said his team will try to qualify by "playing football", alluding to a combative first leg against the Swedes which left Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci with a broken nose.

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But Giampiero Ventura's players couldn't breach a resolute Sweden defence, indeed they struggled to create any meaningful chances as they were bounced out of the World Cup finals.

Italy had the bad luck of being drawn into the same group as Spain.

"We are not stressed, personally I am focused on the game and I hope fans will support us. I'm fully aware that this game is fundamental for us, but it's the same scenario as when I first signed to lead the national side", he continued. "We invite them to support us, but realize the time has come for us to show them what we've got".

The 0-0 draw saw the continuation of an unusual quirk in World Cup qualifying.

Trailing 1-0 on aggregate to a Jakob Johansson goal scored in Friday's first leg in Stockholm, Giampiero Ventura's Azzurri were cheered on by nearly 72,000 Italian fans in Milan.

The winners of the Italy-Sweden tie will join Switzerland and Croatia as qualifying for Russian Federation 2018 via the European play-offs.

  • Tabitha Byrd