Italy's failure to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup is one of the biggest football stories of 2017, and the country's media has reacted with anger to the performance of the team.
The Azzurri were beaten 1-0 over the course of two legs by Sweden, with the 0-0 draw at the San Siro on Monday confirming Italy will not be involved in Russia next summer. It's the first time since 1958 the four-time winners will not feature in the World Cup.
As we can see courtesy of Sport Witness, Gazzetta dello Sport included a picture of a distressed Gianluigi Buffon on its front cover:
Sport Witness @Sport_Witness
The End. https://t.co/sCVjDRWD392017-11-14 07:21:16
Per BBC Sport, Gazzetta suggested the team's struggles have brought about an "apocalypse."
"We will not be with you, and you will not be with us," it continued. "A love so great must be reserved for other things. Italy will not participate at the World Cup. It is time to start thinking about what else we can do in June: concerts, cinema, village festivals. Anything but watching Sweden play at the World Cup—that would be too painful."
As noted by the Guardian, Gazzetta also called on manager Gian Piero Ventura to leave his position and suggested Carlo Ancelotti, who left Bayern Munich earlier this year, could be a potential successor.
The nation's other major sports newspaper, Corriere dello Sport, ran with the following front page:
Corriere dello Sport @CorSport
La prima pagina dell'edizione nazionale del Corriere dello Sport-Stadio di martedì 14 novembre >> https://t.co/OQJrWOGB2w https://t.co/1qQnBcQ4OB2017-11-14 00:00:05
"Everybody fired" read the headline, per Ben Gladwell of ESPN FC.
Per the Guardian, as part of an editorial piece the publication branded Italy's elimination "an intolerable football shame, an indelible stain."
Elsewhere, Tuttosport refused to completely blame Ventura for the side's troubles. "The disgrace is not only down to Ventura," it said, per Gladwell. "It's the whole football movement. We're not going to Russia."
Gladwell also relayed a section from La Repubblica that touched upon how close Buffon came to making further history.
"There is a bitter taste to Buffon's tears; heartbreaking because he will not be at his sixth World Cup, which would have made him a legend as the only player ever to achieve that," they said. "… We thought we had already hit rock bottom, but we've gone further than that—we've gone back 60 years."
Given the match was Buffon's final game for the national team, much of the focus in the analysis has centred around him.
As we can see courtesy of journalist Francois Pinet, the 39-year-old, who has played an incredible 175 times for the Azzurri, was upset at the final whistle:
françois pinet @francoispinet
#Buffon 👏😥🇮🇹 "Je suis désolé pour tout le monde... Le temps passe et je suis désolé que mon dernier match avec l’équipe nationale soit cet échec." #ITASUE https://t.co/x1JaCgNWr02017-11-13 22:23:28
His club team, Juventus, were quick to offer their support and praise to the legendary stopper on Twitter:
All Bianconeri are by your side @gianluigibuffon. You're the pride of our nation and the best goalkeeper in the world. 🇮🇹 👏 https://t.co/iDAJBwn2Xx2017-11-13 22:04:31
Given it's been so long since there was a World Cup without Italy the reaction from the Italian media and from around the globe is understandable. Some of the competition's finest moments have included the Azzurri and the many remarkable players that have represented the country down the years.
There are many calls for change throughout the Italian football setup among the press, and they will surely be actioned after the team plunged to their lowest point for more than half a century.