The Atlantic

The Fall of the Azzurri

The losses, even more than the victories, hook you for life.
Source: Alberto Pizzoli / Getty

Updated at 12:58 p.m. ET on March 25, 2022.

The apocalypse has come again for the Italian national soccer team. Italy has won more World Cups than any other nation save Brazil and Germany, but for the second time in a row, it has failed to qualify for the Mondiale, after Aleksandar Trajkovski, of North Macedonia, scored at the 92nd minute to end the contest 0–1.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Last year the Azzurri won the , defeating the likes of Spain and , a victory that promised to usher in a renaissance for a squad that had been struggling since its last World Cup victory, in 2006. The legends of that era—Francesco Totti, Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro del Piero, Gianluigi Buffon—are long gone from the

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