Tue, Nov 14, 11:54am by Staff Writer
The Italian national soccer team, the Azzuri, have missed out on a place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia after losing a two-legged tie to Sweden 1-0.
The Azzuri have not missed a World Cup in 60 years, when they failed to qualify the 1958 World Cup, ironically hosted by Sweden.
The second and final round of UEFA World Cup qualification takes the top eight second placed teams and divides the teams into two pools based on their FIFA World ranking.
Italy, Switzerland, Croatia and Denmark were assigned to pot one, with Northern Ireland, Sweden, the Republic of Ireland and Greece in pot two.
A Jakob Johannson goal was the difference between Sweden qualifying for the World Cup and Italy missing out.
The substitute entered the field and had an almost immediate impact in the first leg, scoring the decisive goal.
That result meant that Italy needed to at least win the return leg at Milan’s San Siro 1-0 to force extra time.
The Italians were unable to break the Swedish defensive line throughout the match despite continued pressure.
The full-time whistle saw a jubilant Swedish team and a despondent Azzuri, with legendary Gianluigi Buffon missing out on the chance to make this sixth FIFA World Cup.
Sweden are $46 to win the World Cup, rank outsiders and 13th in the line of betting. Depending on the group they are drawn in, the Swedes are most definitely a chance to pass beyond the group stage.
Switzerland were hot favourites to progress to the World Cup when they were drawn against Northern Ireland.
A controversial penalty awarded in the first leg at Windsor Park gifted Switzerland a 1-0 first leg advantage, with a 0-0 result in Basel enough to see the Swiss through to another World Cup.
Switzerland are $61 to lift the trophy at Sportsbet and can count themselves lucky to have slithered past a gallant Northern Ireland side.
Croatia had no trouble brushing aside Greece in their qualification tie. The Croatians took a dominant 4-1 lead after their first-leg tie in Croatia. A 0-0 draw consigned the Greeks to another missed World Cup, with Croatia going through to Russia.
Croatia are $31 in outright betting, ninth favourite for the World Cup. After coming out of a tough European qualification campaign, the Croats will be determined to put in a good showing in Russia.
One of either the Republic of Ireland or Denmark will book their trips to Russia after the second leg in Dublin on Wednesday morning.
Ireland were stout in defence and grabbed a 0-0 draw in Copenhagen last week. Denmark are favourites going in to the second tie, but the home field advantage for the Irish could see them sneak through should this match be pushed past the 90 minutes.
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