Italy may have won the European Championship this past summer, but their World Cup dreams for next year in Qatar are very much in jeopardy.
Gli Azzurri were held to a scoreless draw against Northern Ireland today. That result combined with their 1-1 draw with Switzerland last week kept Italy in second place in their World Cup qualifying group.
Italy must now go to a play-off against other top UEFA teams if they want to keep their World Cup dream alive. But they have bad memories from the last time they went to a play-off, failing to score a goal in two games against Sweden and missing the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
The fans don’t need reminding, and the soccer world is ripping Italy for being in this position again. Many are pointing the blame at star midfielder Jorginho, who some have argued is the best player in the world but struggled against Switzerland and Northern Ireland:
Italy with two draws against Switzerland, draws against Bulgaria and Northern Ireland. Simply not good enough since the Euros. No excuses.
Risk not making a World Cup yet again. Unbelievable.
— Matteo Bonetti (@Bonetti) November 15, 2021
European World Cup qualifying playoffs will be different this time around: No two-legged playoffs. 12 teams into three seeded groups next March for single-elimination semis and final, 3 of the 12 teams make it to Qatar. Italy and Portugal will be in the playoffs, among others.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) November 15, 2021
Italy going to the playoffs again? Are they cursed or something? Come on Italy, we need you at the WC
— Lατιf🦅 (@iLatif_) November 15, 2021
Ballon D’Or Jorginho didn’t show up for Italy?
— . (@Nigerianscamsss) November 15, 2021
Jorginho is the main reason Italy didn’t qualify for world cup automatically. Balon d’Or winner una
— Zlatan’s burner🇮🇹 (@manlikefola_) November 15, 2021
A lot of the heavy hitters in international soccer were able to qualify automatically. Reigning champion France, five-time champion Brazil, four-time champion Germany, Spain, England, Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark and Qatar have also qualified.
Joining Italy in the UEFA play-offs will be Portugal, Turkey, Scotland, Russia and Poland are some of the notable teams joining them.
But Italy has never failed to qualify for the World Cup two cycles in a row. Failing in the play-offs will probably cause some heads to roll.
Will Italy make the World Cup?