November 14, 2017 6:00 am

Rick Zamperin: Italians devastated after World Cup qualifying loss

Italian players react to their elimination as Sweden's team celebrates at the end of the World Cup qualifying playoff match between Italy and Sweden at Milan's San Siro stadium on Nov. 13, 2017.

Luca Bruno/Associated Press
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A big sigh, a shaking of the head, and the feeling of utter disappointment.

That was my reaction to Italy failing to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958.

I’ve been rooting for the Azzurri for as long as I’ve been alive. (Zamperin family history fast fact: My father came to Canada from Italy in the late 1960s where he met my mother, whose parents left Italy for Canada in the ’50s.)

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The four-time champion Italians failed to qualify for next year’s global soccer tournament in Russia after losing its playoff game to Sweden 1-0 on aggregate, pushing the Swedes to their first World Cup since 2006.

READ MORE: Italy fails to qualify for World Cup for first time since 1958

National team manager Gian Piero Ventura will step down, or get fired, amid a cloud of shame — and rightfully so. He was a disaster on the national stage.

The Azzurri did not have the same “oomph” they’ve had in past qualifying campaigns, but answering the all-important question of why is going to take some hard work.

Did the Italians fail because of player selection? I don’t think so. There isn’t one player in the system that would have reversed their fortunes.

Was it their formation? No, that’s not the reason. Their 3-5-2 should have been changed to a 4-4-2 for the second leg vs. the Swedes, but again, there’s no guarantee that would’ve produced a goal.

Are they out because they didn’t play up to their potential? I’ll buy into that. Ventura’s tactical prowess was nowhere to be found, thus contributing to a lack of goal production.

The main reason that Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup is because their style of play caught up to them.

Italy is not, and never has been, an offensive dynamo on the pitch. Their recipe for success has been stout defensive play and timely goals.

This year, however, their time just ran out.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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