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The tense wait: Can Italy board the bus to Russia?

By Unnikrishnan
Italy need to find a way to score

Bengaluru, November 13: Four-time champions Italy are in danger of missing out on the World Cup for the first time since 1958 - a potential national humiliation likened to the "apocalypse" by the team's fanatical supporters.

Mykhel gives a ringside view of the precarious situation the Azzuris are in ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Russia 2018.

What Italy need to do

They need to overturn a 0-1 first-leg play-off deficit against Sweden at San Siro, Italy.

Why so much fuss?

It's because the Italians have a proud record in FIFA World Cup, only behind Brazil in achievements. They did not feature in the big bash only twice: in the inaugural edition at Uruguay in 1930 and in 1958 at Sweden.

Italy's last play-off

1997. They beat Russia 2-1 overall in the play off.

2017 Woes

The 4-2-4 formation saw Italy ship three goals in a loss to Spain in the group stage. Since then they have scored just three goals in their last five qualifiers.

Daniele de Rossi

Ageing Warriors

If Italy don't qualify, it would be the end of an era, with veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon leading the stars parade out.

Buffon, 39, will win his 175th cap against Sweden and had announced he would retire after the 2018 World Cup.

He could be joined by the likes of Daniele De Rossi (34), Giorgio Chiellini (33) and Andrea Barzagli (36) - with De Rossi and Barzagli survivors from the 2006 success.

What they feel

"It's a very tense moment for all of us. Personally I have been tense since Friday. It's inevitable looking at what's at stake and looking at the responsibility that each one of us must have."
Gianluigi Buffon

Italy at WC

Uruguay 1930: Did not play

Italy 1934: CHAMPIONS

France 1938: CHAMPIONS

Brazil 1950: Group stage

Switzerland 1954: Group stage

Sweden 1958: Did not qualify

Chile 1962: Group stage

England 1966: Group stage

Mexico 1970: Runners-up

Germany 1974: Group stage

Argentina 1978: Fourth

Spain 1982: CHAMPIONS

Mexico 1986: R16

Italy 1990: Third

USA 1994: Runners-up

France 1998: QF

South Korea/Japan 2002: R16

Germany 2006: CHAMPIONS

South Africa 2010: Group stage

Brazil 2014: Group stage

Match time: 1.15 am IST

Live: SonyTEN2

Live stream: Sony Liv

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    Story first published: Monday, November 13, 2017, 12:29 [IST]
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