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What next for Italy after failing to qualify for Qatar?

Defending European champions Italy will kick off their 2024 European Championship qualifying campaign with their opening group match against England in March -- a repeat of last year's final.

Italy Football Team (FILE)

Four-time champions Italy failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup in Qatar, marking the second time in a row the “Azzurri” are missing the tournament. Here is what you need to know about what comes next for the European Champions:

HOW DID ITALY’S WORLD CUP QUALIFICATION CAMPAIGN UNFOLD?

In the UEFA World Cup qualification round Italy were drawn in Group C along with Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria and Lithuania.

The pressure was high on coach Roberto Mancini and the squad as Italy had failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia four years earlier. They started with three consecutive wins against Northern Ireland, Bulgaria and Lithuania before taking a break for the European Championships last year.

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After winning the continental tournament, they drew twice in a row to Bulgaria and Switzerland, before claiming a 5-0 win at home against Lithuania.

With two games left, Italy appeared to be in pole position to secure qualification, but drew 1-1 with Switzerland to leave both teams on equal points before the last round.

Four months after their Euro 2020 success, Italy’s 0-0 draw in Northern Ireland meant Switzerland finished top of their World Cup qualifying group after a win over Bulgaria, sending Mancini’s side to the playoffs.

Italy missed out on the deciding playoff tie after a stunning 1-0 loss at home to North Macedonia thanks to Aleksandar Trajkovski’s last-gasp strike.

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North Macedonia progressed to the playoff final, where they were beaten 2-0 by Portugal, who claimed the World Cup spot.

WHY DID ITALY NOT QUALIFY FOR THE WORLD CUP IN 2018?

Italy finished in second place of Group G in the qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

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They then failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years after being held to a 0-0 home draw in 2017 by a defiant Sweden, who booked a place at the finals in Russia with a 1-0 aggregate win.

The Italians, who had not missed the World Cup since the 1958 finals in Sweden, saw Andrea Barzagli, Daniele De Rossi and captain Gianluigi Buffon all declare their retirement from the national team right after the game.

WHAT NEXT FOR ITALY?

Defending European champions Italy will kick off their 2024 European Championship qualifying campaign with their opening group match against England in March — a repeat of last year’s final.

The 24-team finals will be held in 10 stadiums across Germany.

They have also qualified for the final four of the 2022-23 UEFA Nations League after topping a group with Hungary, Germany and England.

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The Azzurri take on Croatia, Spain and the Netherlands in the Dutch cities of Rotterdam and Enschede. The semis take place on June 14 and 15 next year, while the third-place playoff and final are scheduled for June 18.

Italy finished third in the 2020-21 Nations League campaign, losing to eventual runners-up Spain in the semi-finals before beating Belgium for bronze.

First published on: 01-12-2022 at 16:59 IST
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