Azzurri were booed off at the San Siro as they failed to overturn Jakob Johansson’s first leg strike and crashed out of Russia 2018
FROM Pavarotti to Pavarotten…and a World Cup without Italy for the first time in 60 years.
The four-time world champions will be watching from home next summer after the most humiliating night in their glorious history.
The land of pasta became the land of spaghetti oops, as they crashed to play-off defeat against Sweden to miss out on the finals for the first time since 1958.
To coin a phrase, Georgio Armani, Sophia Loren, Fabio Capello, Valentino Rossi…your boys took one hell of a beating.
And for 69-year-old manager Gian Piero Ventura, the shame of being the first man never to lead the side to the World Cup – the only other time they missed out it was management by committee.
Yet when the dust settles and the horses heads have been left on the pillows, the Azzurri can blame no-one but themselves.
Dominating possession but rarely threatening to unlock the well drilled Swedish backline was the story of their night.
A story which has become a recurring one in recent times as far as the current crop of flops are concerned, as well.
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The days when they boasted superstars like Andrea Pirlo, Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Del Piero are long gone.
This lot are more gorgonzola than Gianfranco Zola. They have generally stunk the place out just as much, too.
No invention, no magic, no flashes of genius. Just a case of get it into the box as quickly as possible and hope for the best, in the main.
Yes, they can argue all they like that they should have had a couple of penalties. But the Swedes had an even stronger case for two appeals of their own.
When Marco Parolo tumbled theatrically under Andreas Granqvist’s sixth minute challenge, it was optimistic in the extreme.
The second, when Mikael Lustig kneed Matteo Darmian in the guts was more clear cut, but referee Antonio Lahoz had already pulled him up for handball.
And Sweden could rightly claim to have had two even more blatant spot kicks ruled out, when Darmian and Andrea Barzagli both got away with using an arm.
True, Granqvist had to be on his toes to hack clear when Ciro Immobile for once failed to live up to his name and trickled one towards the goal.
Keeper Robin Olsen did produce a couple of decent enough stops, and Alessandro Florenzi flashed a volley inches wide.
But this was San Zero at the San Siro. All huffing and puffing, and never looking likely to blow the house down.
A wave of attacks, but simply no spark. No inspiration. No moment of magic to save their skins.
And a sad epitaph for skipper Gigi Buffon, a veteran of four World Cups, 175 caps and legendary status.
Keeper Buffon, 39, heads into retirement at the end of the season with his status as a footballing superstar intact for all this humiliation.
The Buffoons who made up the rest of the team should hang their heads in shame.