A four-time World Cup champion and current European champion, Italy missing consecutive World Cup tournaments is a catastrophic event. It is shocking for a country where soccer is above anything else. That too, losing against North Macedonia, a third-tier team in the UEFA Nations League, is a historic upset. It is the first time that North Macedonia has qualified for a World Cup in its history.
Additionally, Italy has never failed in a home World Cup qualifier, with 44 wins, 7 draws, and zero losses.
What could be the reasons behind Italy getting knocked out from FIFA World Cup 2022?
Before the UEFA World Cup qualifying playoff, Italy manager Roberto Mancini emphasized that they had to win those two games and they shouldn’t think about negative scenarios. But, things didn’t work out well and a shocking 1-0 loss to North Macedonia left the team devastated.
Last year, North Macedonia managed to win by 2-1 in the group phase of World Cup qualifying. Added to that, their final day win over Iceland proved that they deserved to win this game and Italy should have foreseen that.
Italy couldn’t win over North Macedonia despite 32 total shots, with 11 on target. While their opponent managed its goal on just 5 shots for a paltry xG of 0.18. Italy got free at the end of the first half, but Domenico Berardi failed to score a goal. A similar thing happened to Alessandro Florenzi.
Injuries to Federico Chiesa and Leonardo Bonucci also cost a lot to the Italy squad. As a result, Alessandro Bastoni was given a starting role. Team captain Chiellini came onto the pitch a few minutes before North Macedonia scored their winning goal.
After Italy missed out on the 2018 World Cup, no serious steps were taken besides changing coaches and making a couple of swaps within the team.
Also, the position of strikers and young players in the squad is worth questioning. Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile, and Andrea Belotti have been criticized for not scoring enough goals, including goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumna, who made critical mistakes in several matches.
For now, Italian players and fans are grieving the loss.