November 19, 2017

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Powerhouse Italy Copes With The 'Indelible Stain' Of Missing The World Cup

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Italian national team players slump in dejection at the end of their World Cup qualifying match against Sweden on Monday. The 0-0 draw killed the four-time world champions’ hopes of a spot in the 2018 tournament. Luca Bruno/AP hide caption

toggle caption Luca Bruno/AP

This is the way World Cup hopes end — not with a bang, but with a whimper.

With their tournament dreams on the line against Sweden on Monday night, the Italian men’s national team — the four-time World Cup champion Italian men’s national team — simply could not get the win they needed. They didn’t even demonstrate the knack for tragedy that might have made for a dramatic defeat, à la the U.S. men.

Instead, Italians watched their opportunity to play in the 2018 World Cup wither slowly as the scoreboard stayed empty, drifting to a scoreless tie with the Swedes in Milan. With the 0-0 draw, Sweden booked their own ticket to Russia to play in one of the world’s most watched events.

Not since 1958 has the World Cup lacked an Italian team.

Luckily, though, it appears Italians are taking it in stride: “Italy,

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