'A World Cup without Italy is like pizza without cheese'

Gianluigi Buffon retired from international football following the failure to reach the 2018 World Cup

Gianluigi Buffon retired from international football following the failure to reach the 2018 World Cup

Joy abounded in the Sweden camp as Janne Andersson's side pulled off the first major shock of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ play-offs last night.

Italy's 1-0 aggregate defeat in their European playoff, after Jakob Johansson's deflected strike in Stockholm, is likely to go down alongside elimination by North Korea at the 1966 World Cup as one of their greatest football debacles.

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"Considering that he has chose to leave worldwide football, he is a great champion, but we had to adapt and found another style".

But while Sweden may lack the star players of past generations, their coach riled at suggestions that Ibrahimovic might be tempted out of worldwide retirement ahead of Russian Federation 2018.

The 39-year-old goalkeeper also confirmed it was his last worldwide appearance. "I just said we were near the end and had to win, so send the strikers to warm up". Italy is slowly recovering from a prolonged recession, but most people say they see no sign of the pick-up, with wages stagnant and unemployment stuck above 11 percent.

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"I'm so proud of us", he told Swedish television.

Daniele De Rossi, Italy's fearsome bearded midfielder who was surprisingly left on the bench on Monday, also announced his worldwide retirement at 34 after 117 appearances.

Jorginho's through ball found Immobile to pull back from the byline for Candreva to blast over, but Leonardo Bonucci, wearing a protective mask after breaking his nose on Friday, got a knock to the knee and was limping badly. It's a unique disappointment.

Failure to qualify has heaped pressure on Italy boss Gian Piero Ventura, with the sport daily Corriere dello Sport calling for him to step down, while the headline in La Gazzetta dello Sport read "Italy, this is the apocalypse". I have to evaluate an infinity of things. I regret just that my final match with the national side coincides with an elimination.

Ventura, 69, is under contract until 2020.

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