The Italians are on a decline a comprehensive defeat by Germany at a point they were trailing by five goals before cutting the deficit to three before then, The current European champions lost to Argentina in the reestablished inter continental title match between UEFA and CONMEBOL winners tagged the finalissima hardly a surprise considering that they had lost form. Since last summer’s euro win but the manner of the loss in the stadium they had won their second European championship and went on to reach 37 games without losing-a world record is indeed shocking.
Unbeaten streak in international football.
Italy -37 games
Brazil , Spain and Algeria -35 games
Argentina -33 games(the streak is still on).
This is pathetic a 3-0 mauling in the hands of the Messi inspired albeleceleste, 2 goals down in the first half, game already over within halftime. but this decline was reawakened when they failed to reach the final stages of the world cup qualifiers losing to north Macedonia. A dark age for one of the world powers of football almost like the recent absence of Uruguay from the world cup in 1994 and 1998 and also not qualifying in 2006. The French were not yet world champions when they failed to qualify in 1990 and 1994.
The Italians can take heart, they are the Europian champions and also the record holders – unbeaten in as many matches.Their fans can take consolation with these achievements, another way to look at it, better to be inconsistent then participate and win which they have done than reaching all the tournaments and not going deep.
Even in their absence apart from Brazil or Germany no team has won the world cup more non will catch up even in their absence.
List of world cup Winners
Brazil 5 titles, Germany and Italy 4 titles, France, Argentina and Uruguay 2 titles, England and Spain 1title.
For the European title won last summer, only Spain and Germany (again has won more)
List of European champions
Germany and Spain 3 titles, Italy and France 2 titles, Russia, Czech, Netherlands, Denmark, Greece and Portugal 1 title.
Misfortune or Decline?
When the draws for the world cup qualification was made with Italy and Portugal scheduled to play in the final play off with the winner qualifying, it was obvious that one of the big names will miss out. in the knock out round or semi finals both had winnable opponents, Italy was to play North Macedonia and Portugal against Turkey. on paper both were supposed to reach the final stages, it was meant to be either the european champions or Ronaldo and his talented team mates missing out It was like in the African qualifiers for the world cup where Liverpool’s best players Salah and Mane were pitched against each other and a star name and his team mates expected to miss out. unfortunately for the Azurris they failed at the first stage to a team ranked 62 places below them and made it easier for Portugal.
How did the Italians get into a play off? They were unbeaten in the qualifiers, nations league and the European championship which they won. Then they lost to Spain in the semi-finals of the euro nations league it was their first defeat, losing to the former joint world record holders. In the qualifiers, the four draws and a win from their last five matches allowed the Swiss to catch up and overtake them by two points. Jorghino missing two penalties in different matches against Switzerland although he missed in the euro finals against England which they still won. this double misfortune combined with a decline, opening the door for Switzerland a team they had thrashed 3-0 at the euros, certainly this was a slump starting at the wrong time, what made it evident was their failure to beat North Macedonia. A sense of anti climax after such great heights.
HOW DID IT HAPPEN
Danielle Vierri Italian football journalist analysed and concluded that foreign players were preventing the U21 from making head way into Serie A , for the great Arigo Sachi he felt that the one dimensional training in the youth systems created limitations to growth at that level reducing the development of players in a general way. He also felt occasional successes will be a distortion of this reality and suggested a methodology of opening up Italian football to fresh and radical ideas. In my View a talent drought or drain is also manifesting. The Italians are no longer producing great players as frequently as before since after the golden generation that won the world cup in 2006, very few of their players can be compared to them and such, this has made it difficult to compete against the best and a drop in form usually makes them vulnerable to upsets against underdogs with nothing to lose, during the important match Mancini was reluctant to drop his core players that had lost form trusting them to deliver. A case of royalty to a group of players that had delivered before and trusting that it can be repeated. It was a gamble that back fired.most great teams overcame such similar challenges by introducing changes incrementally, adding inform and talented replacement to strengthen the team.
Is it a mystery how they have won Euros and set a new record and still miss out of the world cup?hardly ,the inconsistencies over the years had shown this problem. This is highlighted when they failed woefully at their title defense in 2010(although a case can be made for all the European winners of the world cup since the French victory in 1998, all had performed poorly)form was stable at the Euros, in 2008 euros they went as world champions and lost in the quarter finals to Spain after navigating from a very tough group. they reached the finals of 2012 losing to Spain (again)one of the best sides ever in world football and in 2016 a quarter finals loss against Germany even going close in penalties (it was the Germans first multiple penalty miss since 1976)after knocking out the almighty Spanish in the previous round. before then they had failed to go beyond the group stages in the 2014 world cup just like in 2010 a yoyo performance. if compared to their world cup performance since their 1982 victory, they always qualified and never went out in the first round.it showed that something was wrong with Italian football. Four wretched world cup results, back to back first round exit and consecutive failure to qualify . A failure to qualify for the 1984 euros as world champions was not so alarming at that time the participants were eight in number it happened again in euro 1992. Curiously this failings contrasted with reaching the finals (1994)or winning the world cup(1982).
A factor of the competition getting better, North Macedonia had beaten Germany in march last year in their world cup group qualifiers, for 2018 Sweden that stopped them from qualifying had also stopped the Netherlands in the qualifiers and reached the quarter finals at the world cup. The competition has improved but her level has also dropped, her talent production line is creating at best a glut of mediocrity. it must be inferred that the italians need to reevaluate and provide playing time for their youth players at club level and modern processes for development to level or better what their top rivals France,Spain, Belgium, England, Portugal and Germany are doing, they still have great coaches that can take them to the top in Mancini, Allegri, Ancelotti, Sarri,Conte(can be recycled having coached them before and age is still on his side)or even Gasperini surely It can be done the damage is not fatal.
It takes the Italians 14 years to win the world cup or the European championships concurrently since the inception of both tournaments.
After winning their first European championships in 1968, 14 years later they won the 1982 world cup. Then winning the world cup in 2006, again they won euro 2020.
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