Italy, will not be participating in the World Cup in Russia, 2018. Tristezza is Italian for sadness - a feeling that will sweep the streets of the beautiful European country for the next year until the conclusion of the World's greatest sporting competition.
The Azzuri have won four World Cups, have produced some of the greatest defenders the planet has ever seen and is a breeding ground for the most tactically astute managers - they have a worldly football history. With that said, the managerial appointment of Giampiero Ventura whose only managerial triumph was winning the Serie C title with Lecce in 1995-96 was a tragic miscalculation resulting in dire consequence. In addition, the Italians inability to produce any youthful world class attacking talent over the past decade has caught up with them, unfortunately. Known for a defensive rigidity and being opportunistic on the counter attack is no longer a recipe for success on the world stage. Spain flipped that tactic on it's head and countries such as Germany and France have followed suit.
Let's take the last two major tournaments as an example. World Cup 2014 in Brazil saw the final four consist of attacking juggernauts Brazil, Germany, Holland and Argentina. All four played the tournament with flair and ruthlessness going forward ripping opposition apart with magical football. Euro 2016 in France witnessed a final four of Portugal, Wales, Germany and France. Again, four countries with some of the best attacking players in the world. Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Thomas Muller and Antoine Griezmann to name a few.
There isn't a player currently on the Italian national team which is comparable to any of the aforementioned and therefore it's difficult for them to alter their systemic approach of defense first. Ironically, it was an Italian by the name of Andrea Pirlo who may be solely responsible for changing the way football is played today. He took the traditional holding midfielder role and altered it from being fit for a ball-winning pitbull to requiring composure, class and the ability to hit pinpoint passes, both long and short.
While the state of the game in Italy is at an all time low, football is oftentimes cyclical. Take England for example. After the disaster of failing to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the USA, they made it to the Semi-Finals of Euro 1996 and by custom, lost to Germany on penalty kicks.
Italy may have needed to take a step back to take two steps forward and should use this disappointment to reevaluate their current system. With defensive stalwarts, Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Daniele De Rossi and possibly Giorgio Chiellini all entering International retirement, it is probably the appropriate time for a changing of the guard - and maybe a progression of philosophy. A pipeline consisting of young attacking phenoms such as Pietro Pellegri and Moise Kean may present a perfect opportunity to begin the transition of Italian football to a more forward-thinking mindset.
Add to that the fact that one of the most successful managers in club football is jobless, things may start looking up for Gli Azzurri faster than one might think. Over to you, Carlo!