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Italy face crunch Sweden game as World Cup disaster beckons

Italy face crunch Sweden game as World Cup disaster beckons

The first is that the four-time world champions fail to qualify for Russian Federation 2018 and a curtain falls on the worldwide careers of half the team, including Daniele De Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and the icon that is Gianluigi Buffon.

Four-time champions Italy face missing out on the World Cup for the first time since 1958 tonight, while Sweden are desperate to return to the world stage after missing the last two editions.

Italy have failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after the Azzurri could only draw with Sweden at San Siro on Monday night.

But despite laying siege to the Scandinavian defence over 90 feverish minutes, Italy could not make the breakthrough and the goalless draw was enough for Sweden to reach Russian Federation 2018.

Gian Piero Ventura will surely need to make some modifications to his lineup after such a poor performance in Stockholm.

Buffon may be hardest hit by Italy's failure to reach the summer finals.

The Juventus 'keeper confirmed his retirement from global football following the Azzurri's failure at the San Siro. But while its defense forms the backbone of the Italy team, its midfield and attack are made up mainly of foreign players.

Manolo Gabbiadini got the nod - perhaps surprisingly ahead of Lorenzo Insigne - to lead the line alongside Lazio striker Ciro Immobile. The striker played a cut-back to Antonio Candreva, who blasted his shot over the bar.

Andreas Granqvist was Sweden's saviour as half-time drew nearer.

The penalty appeals continued at the other end, with Matteo Darmian and Andrea Barzagli both committing possible handball offences in the box without drawing a whistle from Mateu. Olsen faced a few desperate moments as time ticked away in west Milan.

Marcus Berg put the ball in the net for the visitors in the 83rd minute, but was flagged for offside - the final real chance came via the boot of substitute Stephan El Shaarawy, but his powerful effort was well parried by Olsen, before Marco Parolo headed wide with three minutes left on the clock.

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