In a shocking result on Thursday in FIFA World Cup qualifying, North Macedonia stunned Italy 1-0 on a goal by Aleksandar Trajkovski. As a result, Italy has been eliminated in World Cup qualifying, and will not be participating in its second consecutive World Cup after not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia either.
Historically, the Italians are a world superpower when it comes to soccer. They have won four World Cup titles overall–in 1934, 1938, 1982, and 2006. Italy has won the second most World Cup titles of all-time. The only nation which has won more World Cups is Brazil with five.
However in recent years goal scoring has been an issue for the Italians in international play. In addition to being blanked by North Macedonia on Thursday, Italy only scored twice in three games during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil (shutout by Costa Rica and Uruguay), and were shutout by Sweden in both legs of the second round of FIFA World Cup qualifying in 2018.
Italy is also not going to the World Cup in Qatar in November even though they won Euro 2020 in 2021. Held a year later than initially scheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Italians defeated England 3-2 on penalties at Wembley Stadium after going to extra time deadlocked at one goal apiece. It was Italy’s second European Championship title ever after initially being victorious in Italy in 1968.
Italy becomes the third European country ever to win the European Championship, and then not qualify for the next FIFA World Cup. They were joined by Denmark and Greece. Denmark won the 1992 European Championship in Sweden by a score of 2-0 over Germany in the final, but did not qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the United States. Greece won the 2004 European Championship in Portugal by a score of 1-0 over Portugal, but did not qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.