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Italy Misses World Cup as Sweden Wins Playoff

14 November 2017

Italy's streak of 14 consecutive World Cup appearances is snapped.

The first is that the four-time world champions fail to qualify for Russian Federation 2018 and a curtain falls on the global careers of half the team, including Daniele De Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and the icon that is Gianluigi Buffon.

There are two possible narratives as Italy prepare for their World Cup date with destiny against Sweden in Milan on tonight.

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"I'm not sorry for myself but all of Italian football", he said in an emotional post-match interview. "We've failed something which could have been big also on a social level and this is my only disappointment". There's regret at finishing like that, not because time passes.

"We have pride, strength and we're stubborn".

"We knew it was going to be a tough game and in the end, it was decided on an incident. Hugs to everyone, especially those I've shared this wonderful journey with".

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While Pirlo acknowledges that the team "seemed frustrated", he insists that he is quietly confident of them getting through, saying: "I like this Italy".

The Azzurri have failed to come up with some good results for a while, having lost 3-0 against Spain and drawn with Macedonia, and now risk to miss the Russia World Cup if they don't win the second leg of the playoffs against Sweden.

The 0-0 draw saw the continuation of an unusual quirk in World Cup qualifying. They made the Round of 16 in both 2006 and 2002, but since it's been a barren run for the Scandinavian nation who were unable to qualify for 2010 in South Africa or 2014 in Brazil.

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Italy Misses World Cup as Sweden Wins Playoff