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Featured Image Credit: PA
How to make sense of this? Italy, the European champions, failed to real the World Cup in 2018 and have now failed to make the 2022 World Cup as well. Their conquerors: the mighty North Macedonia.
You read that right. Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar. Roberto Mancini’s side responded much worse to the emotion of winning Euro 2020 than Gareth Southgate’s team did to losing it. They have stuttered ever since, and lost in stoppage time to North Macedonia on Thursday, crashing out of qualifying in the process.
Naturally, seasoned European superstars such as Giorgio Chiellini, Ciro Immobile and Jorginho were devastated at the final whistle. Their reaction to the visitors’ smash-and-grab goal said it all. It was either hands on head or head in hands. Whatever the reaction, Italy’s players had been stunned. They couldn’t recover, and the North Macedonians progressed to a play-off final against Portugal in their place.
But videos and photos show the Italian players were not done with their exuberant reactions. When they returned to the dressing room, forlorn and in disbelief, all hell broke loose.
A video circulating on social media shows the utter state the Italy team left the dressing room in. And what’s more, it was a home game! It was Palermo’s dressing room which they’d used and abused. They managed to turn it into a scene that resembled a landfill site.
While North Macedonia were understandably singing and dancing and cheering in their dressing room, the Italians were throwing bottles and food around. The video zooms in on a bin which is overflowing, and the players also left wrappers and food just lying on the floor and on the benches.
It was a total role reversal from eight months ago, when Italy’s jubilant players savoured the precious moment of winning Euro 2020 with wild celebrations in the Wembley Stadium dressing room. There was no sign of that in Palermo’s Stadio Renzo Barbera on Thursday night. It all felt, and looked, well, a bit rubbish.