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Endgame: The Abyss

Endgame: The Abyss

It’s the same story, time after time after time. A gutless, heartless and tactically inept Italy now faces the embarrassment of a century.

The Azzurri will most likely need three goals in Milan simply due to the fact their defense is so shaky that it’s a probability Sweden will score. On Friday night, Italy redeployed the tried and trusted 3-5-2 formation with the once-mighty BBC in defense. It didn’t work, and the Swedes broke the deadlock off a deflection.

There Italy stands. Down a goal with a completely broken team and mentality heading back to the Bel Paese.

As I sat in front of my living room television, I kept catching myself with my mouth ajar, staring blankly in awe at what was transpiring. Verratti rendered useless in a five man midfield, Insigne then replacing Verratti as a midfielder and finally Ventura not using all three subs. On the bench were several impact players such as Jorginho, Gabbiadini, Bernardeschi and Florenzi. All not deployed.

Being down for over 30 minutes and not using all three subs. Gian Piero Ventura should’ve been immediately fired at the stadium and forced to catch a Ryanair flight back home for such an egregious blunder.

Ventura was supposed to revitalize and freshen up the Azzurri. Instead, he played a lineup which featured Buffon, Barzagli, Chiellini, Bonucci, De Rossi, Parolo, Candreva and eventually Eder, who are all over 30. Their experience didn’t show, instead their age did. De Rossi and Parolo were as slow and cumbersome as freighters and Candreva couldn’t put a cross on target to save his life. If Monday in Milan really is the end, then none of the aforementioned players should ever don Azzurro again. For Buffon, it will be the end, and definitely not the way any of us would’ve ever wanted to envision it.

I cannot believe I just typed that. I cannot believe that this is the reality this once mighty football nation is facing. A decade of absolutely crushing defeats, setbacks and failed experiments has led to this. The penultimate clash at the San Siro where history will be written. Whether it’s in blue or yellow is yet to be determined.

Last summer in France, Antonio Conte led his men, by far the worst Italy squad individually in the last half century to the quarterfinals in the European Championship. Putting the likes of Belgium and Spain to the sword and taking Germany to penalties. Last night Ventura capitulated for the whole world to see. It’s unlikely that he left Stockholm last night with many supporters left.

It’s not about formations, it’s about the grinta which has guided Italy to championships. But at the end of the day, Sweden scored on a deflection and Italy hit the post. On Monday, it’s all up to the saints.




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