With a jaw-dropping upset loss to North Macedonia, the Azzurri who are the reigning European Champions have failed to qualify for the second World Cup in a row.
What this means is that this is the first time in history that the Italians have failed to qualify for two world cups in row, and it would make it at least 20 years since they have been in a World Cup knockout round.
For a national team that wears a crest that has four stars, this is a huge disappointment and shows immediate regression as this low comes right after the high of winning the Euro 2020 in which they were crowned as European Champions.
After this failure, now we must look back and see what changes could have been made, to demonstrate continued success for the FIGC.
In terms of offensive capability, with the injury of Juventus’ winger Federico Chiesa, other attacking options such as Ciro Immobile, Domenico Berardi, and Lorenzo Insigne had to have done more offensively.
Looking back specifically at the match up against North Macedonia, the trio had shot totals nearing the double digits in which they had opportunities to score and take the lead in that elimination world cup qualifying game.
Berardi struggled to find his footing in the attacking third, and missed many crucial opportunities. Being the direct replacement for Chiesa in the starting eleven, it is clear that he failed to meet expectations.
Immobile is a striker that excels at the club level for Lazio, however for the national team he seems to struggle.
Insigne who will be leaving top level European football at the end of the season also struggled in most qualifiers and specifically in the elimination game against North Macedonia in which he performed at a level that disappointed. His struggles could potentially be because of the fact that his mind is already set on MLS.
Though Mancini is an excellent coach and a bright football mind, the decision to stick with the attacking options from his European title winning team was clearly a mistake.
Italy has bright attacking forwards that are ready to compete at the highest level of international football such as Giacomo Raspadori and Gianluca Scamacca.
These two young Sassuolo offensive talents are firing on all cylinders at the club level and could have made the difference for the offense that have struggled during the national team.
Sometimes a bit of energy and spark can bring new life to a team’s offense that seems lifeless. Especially when the veterans of the team are out of form and have struggled for many matches.
When looking at a specific moment in which things could have been different, Ballon D’or nominee Jorghino missed a penalty against Switzerland that would have allowed them to get the top spot in the group.
This miss happened in the 90th minute of a 1-1 game, that would have granted Italy the top spot in the group, punching their ticket to Qatar.
Though it is important not to single out one single penalty that costed the team’s qualification, as this was just a bump in a road to disappointment. It defiantly stands out as a moment that many fans will look back on as a crucial situation.
In regards to this miss, though Jorghino is noted as a penalty specialist, he had also missed a penalty agaisnt Switzerland earlier in the year during the first leg of qualification against the same goalie Yan Sommer.
Jorghino’s penalty style is iconic and has been studied by many goalies, given the past experience that Sommer had stopped Jorghino a few months prior, changing the shooter could have been something looked upon by the players and management.
It is unfortunate that the Azzurri will not be at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, however the reigning European Champions still have a lot to look forward to with young players coming up.
Hopefully the youth will get the opportunity to invigorate the the national side, however not in Qatar this year.