What the fuck just happened.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Italy will not be in the 2018 World Cup after failing to beat Sweden over two legs. They looked sluggish, disjointed, and timid over the two legs.
There was no attacking impotence in the first game, a massive mistake where it was clear they wanted to escape without conceding. In the 2nd leg, Italy needed to score but save for a couple of quality scoring chances didn’t look threatening.
So who’s to blame for this catastrophic failure?
Let’s start with this man, manager Giampiero Ventura. The decisions that he made over the qualifying campaign were fucking baffling.
- Refuses to even call up Jorginho when it was clear Italy’s midfield was lacking. Then when he finally calls him up, doesn’t play him until the 2nd leg against Sweden.
- Plays a 4-2-4 against Spain away — clearly the wrong formation against a Spanish side that loves to overload the midfield. They lost 3-0 and were dominated.
- Only manages a 1-1 draw against world power Macedonia at home in Italy.
- Starts the first leg against Sweden with a defensive 3-5-2 formation. Starts De Rossi in the midfield where he’s clearly done.
- Doesn’t take off a single centreback in the 2nd leg when you desperately need a goal
- And arguably the biggest mistake of them all — a stubbornness to refuse to play Lorenzo Insigne (Italy’s arguably most in-form attacking player) to the point where I think he was sleeping with Ventura’s daughter.
His reasoning for not playing him was that “he doesn’t work in the system.” Well then find a system that works with him in it! That’s your goddamn job as the national team manager, to find a system that works with your best players! In my opinion, it was very clear Italy should have started out in a 4-3-3 given who they had at their disposal — yet Ventura stuck with a system that clearly didn’t work the last game.
He even had his own players questioning his decisions. He has to go immediately if Italy is to qualify for the next Euro’s or even the next World Cup. Not only that, but the higher-ups within the FIGC have to go as well. Not a single soul should survive this utter embarrassment.
Was Italy going to be one of the favourites if they did qualify? Absolutely not, but they had more than enough talent to get there. With Spain in their group, the playoffs were always the most likely option but going out with the performance that they did will be impossible to forget for all the wrong reasons.
I feel the worst for Buffon. All he wanted was to appear in one last World Cup before riding off into the sunset in a glorious career. Now he won’t get that chance because the manager and the team in front of him failed him. He can’t score the fucking goals, he did all he can. Ventura has brought on an unforgivable end to his stellar career.
Full credit to Sweden who were very well organized and played their system to perfection. It was a failure on all levels from Italy and big, big changes are needed.