Reigning Euro Champs Italy eliminated from World Cup qualification

Peter Kahrl

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Italian players react to their shocking defeat in an important World Cup qualifying match against North Macedonia. A last minute goal by North Macedonia shattered Italian World Cup dreams.

Italy, the reigning Euro champs, lost to North Macedonia in a World Cup qualifier and failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Italy is a four-time winner of the World Cup, however, they were absent from the last world cup and will be absent yet again this year.

After Italy’s victory against England in the Euro final, the team has seemed out of form and missed out on an automatic qualification by finishing second in their group. A large part of this was due to a long term injury to Italy’s left back Leonardo Spinazzola. This put them on a much harder path to the World Cup including having to beat Portugal to make it through.

Many fans were very disappointed when Italy didn’t qualify. “They won the Euros and I really wanted to see how they did in the World Cup. I really think they could have won it if they started playing like they are supposed to do again,” sophomore Erik Austegard said.

Italian fans were devastated when North Macedonia scored in the 92nd minute of the playoff game which decided their fate.

When I saw that goal my heart sank. I thought this was going to be the year we would win the whole thing, but then I realized that we wouldn’t even make it. That whole game was torture I had to turn it off for a while, I couldn’t watch it.

— Fraol Kebede

Italy was the number one ranked country for football in the whole world after the Euros and has fallen significantly. They have been ranked ten on some websites and a little lower on others. North Macedonia was ranked 62 by the fifa official rankings. This means they were a major underdog going into this match and nobody expected them to win. The majority expected it to be a battle between Italy and Portugal.

“I’m a Ronaldo fan and an Italy fan and so it was tough to see that one of them wouldn’t be in the world cup, and that they would have to play for a spot. I never expected either of them to lose their first game before they played each other. I thought it was going to be a good game between the two countries who both should have automatically qualified,” sophomore Ahmed Gugssa said.

After this huge loss, there were questions about how the Italian management and team would change. As of now, it is continuing with Mancini as the head coach and many of the players have said they want Mancini to continue coaching and that it was not his fault. Also with some of the players who have been out of form, it is looking like they will continue to start and hopefully bring their game back on track.