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Italy 0 - Sweden 0: Initial reaction and random observations

Gigi Buffon is in tears. Nothing else matters.

Italy v Sweden - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off: Second Leg Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

The headline on SportMediaset’s website after Italy’s 1-0 loss to Sweden on Friday said it all.

“Italia, tre giorni per salvare la faccia”

“Italy, three days to save face”

Three days later, that ain’t happening.

Italy is not going to the 2018 World Cup. Gigi Buffon is not going to be setting one final record on the international stage by playing in a sixth World Cup. None of that is going to be happening after Italy couldn’t get a win against Sweden on Monday night at San Siro.

Nothin good happened.


Gian Piero Ventura officially became Public Enemy No. 1 in Italy on Monday night. That is, if he wasn’t that guy already, of course.

The sub-par end to the group phase of qualifying only extended itself another two games when Italy needed to actually play some good football. Ventura said during his pre-match press conference that playing in the qualification playoffs was inventible when he saw that Spain was in Italy’s group, and that kind of mindset came back to bite him in the ass. Same goes for the fact that he let personal biases with Lorenzo Insigne come before the team’s best interest. Same goes for the fact that Italy looked absolutely terrible for more than just a couple of games when they desperately needed points or, you know, goals in the playoff.

Ventura has already resigned, according to multiple Italian media outlets, and that’s what needs to happen. Carlo Tavecchio, the man who hired Ventura as Antonio Conte’s replacement, should be following him right out the door. That’s what needs to happen.

Italy’s roster is going to be younger the next time we see them playing, and they need new blood in the front office to guide them through this obviously huge transition that will happen without Buffon wearing the captain’s armband.

To see Italy go from limited yet nearly making the semifinals in the European Championship under Conte to now not making the World Cup, it’s just awful and fully deserving of heads rolling as a result of it.

Yes, we can throw credit Sweden’s way because that’s the customary and classy thing to do. “Tip your cap to ‘em!” as they like to say here in American sports. But this was Italy’s failings more than anything else. Ventura and Co. were well aware of what needed to be done on Monday night, and instead of having somebody like Insigne on the field from the start or adjusting your system right out of the gate in the second half, Ventura did nothing. He was as hard-headed as ever. There was no Insigne, but there was a Leonardo Bonucci who was clearly injured. There was an ineffective Ciro Immobile on the field for 90 minutes. There was

At least he played Jorginho?

That was too little, and it was too late.

Now Italy will have the summer off to watch the World Cup from their couches or beaches around Europe. There will be no send-off for Buffon on the international stage with hundreds of millions of people watching.

Gigi shouldn’t have spent his final minutes as Italy’s captain and goalkeeper running to the other end of the San Siro field to be part of a corner kick. Italy should have never been in that position at all. Call it arrogance or whatever you want, but Italy should have never been in the playoff round to begin with.

But thanks to Ventura’s failures as a manager and the players unable to answer the call, there will be no World Cup for any of them. They had three days to save face after the first leg and instead fell flat on their face when they needed to show up.


  • If Ventura isn’t fired in the next 24 hours, I’m done.
  • That’s all I got. What are we going to say? “Man, I wish Ciro Immobile finished that one chance that was cleared off the line!”? No, not today.
  • Have a nice day.