Football, Italy not qualified for two World Cups in a row. He also happened to France … which then won!

It is a particular period for the Italian national football team. Fans believed that the team, winners of the last European Championships, could take part in the World Cup in Qatar 2022, scheduled from 20 November to 18 December. As we know, that won’t be the case.

The training coached by Robert Mancini he failed in a sensational way to qualify for the world championship, in a path halfway between bad luck and objective responsibility of individuals. The penalty kicks missed by Jorginho in the two matches against Switzerland and the very bitter epilogue against North Macedonia in Palermo are some of the characteristic features of what happened.

A failure with even more disastrous trappings why are we talking about second consecutive non-pass of the national teamremembering the ominous 13 November 2017 and the 0-0 draw against Sweden earned the elimination of the team coached by Gian Piero Ventura in the qualifying playoffs for the final phase in Russia in 2018.

In the history of football there have been other glorious teams that have not achieved the goal described. Comes to mind England in the USA ’94 World Cup and the Netherlands for those of 2002 in Korea and Japan. What happened to Italy, however, can be compared with what it did France that failed to qualify for the World Cup in Italy ’90 and the United States four years later.

A story that needs to be analyzed transalpine. After the lack of access to the European Championships in Germany, despite the fact that the transalpine team was the reigning European champion, the French federation decided to make significant changes: a lot of money was spent (100 million francs) to build the Fernand Sastre national technical center ; indicated a supervisor for the selections, Claude Bez; hired Michael Platini in the role of Technical Commissioner. A team, the one managed by “Le Roi“, who could count on level players like Jean-Pierre Papin (winner of the Ballon d’Or in 1991) and on excellent talents such as Eric Cantonaequipped with great shots on the pitch, but also with headers outside the behavioral point of view.

Well, in the qualifying rounds of Italy ’90, France was paired with Yugoslavia, Scotland, Norway and Cyprus and many of the insiders believed that this route was affordable. The adventure started well: victory against Norway on 28 September 1988. However, on 22 October of that year the unexpected happened: the transalpine team blocked 1-1 in Nicosia by a “mattress” team. The French lost 3-2 in Belgrade to the Yugoslavs the following day and were defeated 2-0 in Scotland, only to draw 0-0 in Paris against Yugoslavia. A compromised and lethal situation on 15 November 1989 by a draw between the Scots and Norway. 15 years after the Galletti failed to qualify for the 1974 edition in Germany, history was repeating itself.

Platini’s adventure that ended on the bench after the bad results of the final phase of the European Championships in Sweden in 1992: equal 1-1 and 0-0 against the Swedes and England; 2-1 ko against Denmark, who then went on to surprisingly win that competition. The French Football Federation, therefore, decided to entrust the management of the selection to Gerard Houllier, former PSG manager and Platini’s assistant. The goal was qualification for the 1994 World Cup in the United States for a formation that had quality midfielders such as Franck Sauzée and Didier Deschampsin defence Laurent Blanc and in attack the contribution of Papin. The qualifying round included Sweden, Bulgaria, Austria, Finland and Israel and even in this case the route seemed within reach. The race for the World Cup started badly, with the defeat against the Bulgarians away on 9 September 1992 (2-0). However, France managed to shake up with victories against Austria 2-0, Finland 2-1, in Israel 4-0, in Vienna 1-0 and 2-1 against Sweden. Everything seemed to go downhill, but on October 13, 1993 the imponderable knocked on the door of the French: in Paris, Houllier’s team lost to Israel 3-2. An incredible knockout and a new nightmare because you couldn’t go wrong against Bulgaria November 17th of that year. The match seemed to be going well for the Galletti, given the realization of Cantona. However, Emil Kostadinov’s brace reversed the situation and darkness fell on the sky over the Parc des Princes.

The newspaper liberation on November 18, 1993 titled as follows: “France qualified for the 1998 World Cup“, alluding ironically to the certain presence of the Blues at the edition they hosted. We also know what the French team was able to do. Will it be the same for Italy too? The talents produced by transalpine football gave a huge boost, citing the semi-final at the 1996 European Championships, before the world triumph. In the Bel Paese the situation appears more complicated due to a problematic valorisation of nurseries and with Mancini forced more to act as a Talent Scout than as a recruiter. But who knows… maybe history could repeat itself in the world championship hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada in 2026.

Photo: Olycom LaPresse

Football, Italy not qualified for two World Cups in a row. He also happened to France … which then won!