Italy misses World Cup for first time since 1958; Sweden clinches Russia 2018 spot

For the first time since 1958, the FIFA World Cup will not feature Italy, a nation that has won the tournament four times. Sweden held Italy to a 0-0 draw in the second leg of the European qualifiers on Monday at the San Siro. Sweden won the first leg at home 1-0, which proved to be enough to secure a ticket to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. 

Italy's streak of 14 consecutive World Cup appearances is snapped in the process and adds to a stunning list of big nations that failed to qualify: Netherlands, United States, Chile, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Cameroon. 

It was the third-longest active streak behind Brazil (20) and Germany (16) and it likely means we won't see legendary keeper Gianluigi Buffon in another World Cup. The iconic goalkeeper turns 40 in January.

Italy had more than enough talent to get through, but its failures in the final third did the team in. But had calls gone the way they should have, Italy might not have stood a chance late. Italy was very fortunate to finish the match with 11 men, with Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini both deserving red cards, and there were at least two clear penalty kicks not given to the Swedes.

Here's the first:

And the second:

If Sweden gets one of those and puts it away, Italy would have needed three goals, and this team never going to do that with its sloppy play when it mattered most.

Now, can we please start a campaign to get Zlatan Ibrahimovic to come out of international retirement for the World Cup?

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CBS Sports Writer

Roger Gonzalez is an award-winning writer based in Virginia that has covered pro soccer from Europe's top clubs to Argentina's first division. Roger started out his pro soccer writing career with Goal.com... Full Bio

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