Sweden shatter Italy's World Cup dream

Carlo Ancelotti

Sweden qualify for the World Cup... thoughts immediately turn to Zlatan Ibrahimovic

After the game, midfielder Daniele De Rossi and defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli announced they would be retiring from global competition - joining goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who previously said he would do so after the World Cup.

Among the most heroic was Andreas Granqvist, Ibrahimovic's successor as captain, who was a colossal figure in central defence.

The manager of Sweden has questioned why their World Cup qualification has become a story about Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Italy's 1-0 aggregate defeat in their European playoff, after Jakob Johansson's deflected strike in Stockholm, is likely to go down alongside elimination by North Korea at the 1966 World Cup as one of their greatest football debacles. At the club level, AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan have won dozens of titles between them, constantly making themselves contenders in the Champions League and other competitions. "I thought they'd forgotten it, but John [Guidetti] and "Vigge" [Victor] Lindelof shaved it off straight away!"

Manchester United full-back Valencia will not be in Russian Federation next summer after Ecuador finished eighth in South American qualifying, six points off a play-off spot.

Speaking after the game, Barzagli, 36, said it was painful, adding: "I don't know what we missed".

"It's upsetting that my last Italy game coincides with our elimination for the World Cup", said Buffon, a World Cup victor in 2006.

Berg had little opportunity to shine in a match dominated by the Italians, with Sweden enjoying just 25 per cent of possession and four shots to Gli Azzurri's 23.

"I thank the lads who were us and, although it wasn't enough, I hope that we gave them something".

"We had no weapons left", Andersson admitted.

Italian fans were struggling to come to terms with the prospect of a World Cup without their national team.

"There is certainly a future for Italian football, as we have pride, ability, determination and after bad tumbles, we always find a way to get back on our feet. He has made a decision to leave global football, and he is a great champion, but we had to adapt and we found another style".

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