Luís Curro

“Last summer we experienced the most beautiful joy, and now, the greatest frustration.”

Roberto Mancini, the coach of the Italian national team, summed up the seesaw that he and his team went through in an interval of just over eight months.

Last July, Squadra Azzurra was at the top: they beat England in London, at Wembley, on penalties to become champion of the multi-seat Eurocup.

Best in Europe, Italy would theoretically have no problem qualifying for the World Cup.

Well, he didn’t qualify.

First, they finished second in their qualifying bracket, behind Switzerland. That position pushed her into the playoffs.

Then, after losing at home (Palermo) to North Macedonia, with a goal in stoppage time in the second half, Italy fell, plummeted, collapsed.

Trajkovski caused the tragedy. More precisely, Trajkovski’s right foot, in a precise shot from outside the area, out of reach of Donnarumma.

The Italians squandered consecutive chances to score the rival, giving the chance for an old football saying to prevail: “Who doesn’t do it, takes it”.

The unexpected goal, which made the score 1-0, was a surprise for everyone. A shock, a shock.

Game over, not even the Macedonian players, kneeling on the lawn of the Renzo Barbera stadium, seemed to believe what they had just accomplished.

The four-time world champion succumbed to the ex-Yugoslav Republic, a complete underdog who has never been to a World Cup – and to go he will still need to go through Portugal.

Italy were out of a World Cup for the second time in a row – no longer classified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

It’s the first time in history that this has happened. The Azzurri was only absent in the inaugural Cup, in 1930 (Uruguay), and in the 1958 (Sweden).

In football, the fall is usually collective. Faced with Macedonia, it can be said that this was the case. Or not?

In Trajkovski’s tragic (for the Azzurri) goal, the striker’s closest opponent was the Italian-Brazilian Jorginhovoted the best player in Europe in 2021.

When complaining about a hand touch from shirt 9, Jorginho was late in marking him. Would he arrive in time to stop the shot if he didn’t waste time? Maybe.

But this is hypothetical, and you can’t blame the steering wheel for the defeat.

But Jorginho himself is responsible for Italy not going to the Qatar World Cup, which will be at the end of this year.

Not for that move that resulted in Trajkovski’s goal. Not for his performance in the match against Macedonia.

The guilt that Jorginho feels is for having allowed this game to take place. For he had the opportunity – not once, but twice – to prevent Italy from going into the playoffs.

In the two direct confrontations between Italy and Switzerland (0-0 in Basel and 1-1 in Rome), Jorginho missed a penalty. Thus, Switzerland remained in contention for the top of the group.

Very shaken after the elimination, shirt 8 declared that he will have to live with this haunting forever.

“It hurts when I think about it. It will haunt me for the rest of my life,” the 30-year-old from Santa Catarina, who plays for Chelsea, told Italian TV Rai Sport.

“being there [na marca do pênalti] twice and not being able to help your team and your country is something I will carry with me forever. It’s a big weight for me.”

Despite the setback, the president of the Italian Football Federation, Gabriele Gavrina, said he would like coach Mancini to continue in charge of the Azzurra.

If the coach decides not to continue, the most quoted to take over the position is former defender Fabio Cannavaro, captain of Italy champions in the 2006 World Cup.


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