World Cup Qualifiers: The reasons behind Italy’s dismal elimination from WC qualifiers

Thursday (March 24) will go down as yet another black day in Italian football, as Italy failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. 

It comes as a huge disappointment for the Azzurri’s as they were knocked out by minnows North Macedonia in the 92nd minute after registering a famous win against the four-time world champions. So what exactly went wrong for them?

Over-confidence as Euro champions

Merely eight months ago, Italy, led by Giorgio Chiellini lifted the Euro 2020 title, bearing England on penalty shootout in the final. 

However, the tag of European champions wasn't enough for them to punch the ticket as they faltered badly against an organised Macedonian side. 

Taking a team handy and a belief of overconfidence has ultimately cost them their place in the football carnival, later this year.

Jorginho penalty miss comes back to bite Italy

In their penultimate group stage qualifier, Italy were awarded a penalty in the 90th minute. With the scoreline at 1-1, Jorginho missed the opportunity and failed to score. 

Had he scored that penalty, it would have been Switzerland who would have been playing in the play-off and not Italy. A miss that has ultimately cost Italy a place in the World Cup.

Absence of key players

The Azzurri’s were missing key players like Federico Chiesa, Giorgio Chiellini, and Leonardo Bonucci. The trio was a big hit in Italy's recent success at the Euro 2020, but all failed to make the matchday squad. 

Star players ‘absence coupled with some resilient performance from the Macedonians got the job done for them. Chiesa’s miss came as a bitter blow; as he was a fundamental part of the midfield drive capable of scoring goals at times.

Ageing squad

While Italy still rely on veteran names like Bonucci and Chiellini, they have a combined age of 71. Teams like Germany, England have applied a different theory by getting in young players. 

Players like Jude Bellingham, Jadon Sancho have started for England while Eduardo Camavinga is already applying his trade for France and Real Madrid. Italy's over-reliance on veterans has probably cost them a place in the World Cup for the second time in a row.

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