The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be missing some notable teams like the United States, Chile, Ivory Coast, Holland, and as of this past Monday, Italy. Gli Azzurri fell to Sweden by an aggregate score of 1-0 in a two-leg play-off to see which team would feature in Russia next summer.
The loss was heartbreaking to the country, the team, and the sport in general as Italy will be missing its first World Cup since 1958. The Blues had been one of the most successful teams in World Cup history with four titles, the most recent one coming in Germany 2006.
The loss marked many things for Italian football but most importantly the end of an era, the end of any trace of that 2006 World Cup winning team. Four notable veterans on the Azzurri announced their retirement from the team, Giorgio Chiellini was one and the other three were all part of that 2006 championship team in Andrea Barzagli, Daniele De Rossi and Gianluigi Buffon.
Gianluigi Buffon was the most notable retiree and the one that has made the biggest impact as he had been the face of Italian football for several years now. The Tuscany native had been the leader, the role model, the mentor and much more after departures of some of his 2006 teammates like Fabio Cannavaro, Andrea Pirlo, Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero.
Now a new era must step in and there is plenty of hope with promising players like Gianluigi Donnarumma, Daniele Rugani, Lorenzo Insigne, Marco Verratti and Andrea Belotti. The Gian Piero Ventura reign is all but over and a new process will step in to try and replicate Marcello Lippi’s success in 2006.