Italy Crash Out of World Cup Play-Offs

World Cup play-offs
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Italy crashed out of the World Cup play-offs on Thursday night after suffering a 1-0 loss to North Macedonia in Palermo.

It will be the second time in a row the Azzurri miss out on the World Cup, after failing to qualify for the 2018 tournament.

Unconvincing Italy Lose in World Cup Play-Off Tie

European Champions Knocked Out by North Macedonia

Despite the great success of winning the European Championship in the summer, Italy have been far from convincing in their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Roberto Mancini’s side finished second behind Switzerland in qualifying. Draws against Northern Ireland and Bulgaria meant that the Azzurri had to settle for a World Cup play-off place.

Italy were expected to beat North Macedonia in the play-off semi-final, but a last-minute goal from striker Aleksandar Trajkovski meant that the Macedonians will now face Portugal for a spot at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

From Hero to Zero – What’s Next For Italy?

Italy looked to be back to their best as 2021 came to an end. The Azzurri broke the record for the longest unbeaten streak in international football, failing to lose in 37 games.

This, along with a successful Euro 2020 campaign where they beat the likes of Belgium, Spain and England on their way to winning the trophy, made it seem like the Italians were back to the peak of international football.

The loss against North Macedonia will leave the Italian fans with more questions than ever. Speaking to Rai Sport after the defeat, Roberto Mancini said: “I’m more than disappointed, I’ve nothing to say. 

Something incredible happened tonight. We deserved to win the Euros, now we’ve been really unlucky… but that’s it, that’s the reality. I’m sorry for the players”.

When asked about his future, Mancini added: “We will see. Now I feel too disappointed to speak about my future, we will see.

“I’m sure this team has a great future. I’m supporting these players now more than ever”

It was reported earlier in the season that Mancini turned down an offer from Manchester United to take over as manager after the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

The former Manchester City and Inter boss turned down these claims, telling Gazzetta dello Sport: “A verbal agreement with a Premier League club? All false.

My only goal is to get to the World Cup and be able to win it.”

Now that Italy’s World Cup dreams are over, it will be seen whether or not Mancini will remain as the national team coach. 

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