Good news. We won’t be going out on penalties to the Italians at Russia 2018.
Bad news. The 2018 World Cup will be missing Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and all the passion that comes with Italy at an international tournament.
Having stuck with a 4-2-4 formation throughout qualifying Italy boss Giampiero Ventura decided a crunch World Cup play-off against Sweden was the time to switch to a 3-5-2 formation.
Ventura’s decision to start with just two strikers meant a host of attackers were left on the bench despite Italy desperately needing a goal.
Even when time was running out Ventura sent Daniele De Rossi to warm up, causing the Roma midfielder to go ballistic.
So who exactly did Ventura have in reserve?
Andrea Belotti (Goals for club and country since the start of 2016/17: 37)
Ventura decided to go with Southampton’s Manolo Gabbiadini to partner European golden boot leader Ciro Immobile, instead of Torino’s Belotti.
Belotti has been nursing himself back from injury but given he played the full 90 minutes against Inter on 5 November and started the first-leg so he must have been in decent shape.
It took until the 63rd minute for Ventura to turn to Belotti, by which time the panic had already set in and Italy’s game plan revolved around getting Chiellini to launch the ball towards Bonucci.
Lorenzo Insigne (Goals for club and country since the start of 2016/17: 26)
The creative hub of Napoli’s glorious start to the season was brutally ignored by Ventura.
Maybe it’s his size. Sweden clearly came with a physical plan to rough Italy up.
But Insigne is arguably Italy’s most creative player, and offers something no one else in the squad does, so the fact he didn’t see a single minute of play in the second-leg is damning.
Federico Bernardeschi (Goals for club and country since the start of 2016/17: 19)
Bernardeschi has been earmarked for greatness ever since inheriting the no.10 shirt once worn by Roberto Baggio at Fiorentina.
His summer move to Juventus hasn’t been a complete success but he’s shown flashes of his obvious talent.
As a natural left footer he could have given Italy the width they so desperately needed against Sweden.
Stephan El Shaarawy (Goals for club and country since the start of 2016/17: 17)
Il Faraone might be wishing he’d agreed to play for Egypt, who he qualifies for through his dad, rather than Italy.
Ventura turned to El Shaarawy in the 63rd minute, bringing him on in a left wing-back role.
His desire to cut in on his right foot meant Sweden could tuck in deep and defend in numbers, while not having to worry about the Roma forward’s pace.
Eder (Goals for club and country since the start of 2016/17: 13)
In truth Eder wasn’t deserving of a starting place against Sweden, due to his lack of form at Sampdoria this season.
But his size and determination would have been perfect for causing a bit of chaos among the organised Swedish defence late on.
At 30, and with better options ahead of him, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Eder isn’t seen in an Italy shirt again.