Is Italy still a powerhouse in international football?

Italy is known as one of the top footballing nations along with Brazil, Germany, Argentina, France, Spain, England and Uruguay. They are amongst the elite nations due in part to their four World Cups won and two European Championships.

Gli Azzurri went into the last Euros unbeaten in 27 games, and this positive momentum steered the Italians towards their second Euros triumph. They did not taste defeat in any of the seven games they played. The unbeaten run came to an end when they lost to Spain in the semi-finals of the Nations League in October 2021.

They are a far cry from the side that went on a 37-game unbeaten run. Since then, their form has slumped, putting them at risk of missing the upcoming Euros. The Italians need to improve their form fast as they will need to go into the tournament – if they qualify – in good form as this will build confidence. It will be a massive disappointment if they  fail to make the Euros as they are defending European Champions. When teams play Italy nowadays, they should play the team rather than the name.

Struggles in World Cup/European qualifiers

Italy failed to qualify for the last two World Cups, and is running the risk of missing next summer’s Euros in Germany. The Azzurri finished second behind Spain in their qualification group for the 2018 World Cup. This meant that they had to face another runner-up (Sweden) in a World Cup qualification play-offs. Sweden won the first leg 1-0 against the Italians at the Friends Arena, then stood tall in the second leg amid Italian onslaught to get a 0-0 draw in Milan.

Failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup was even worse, given the qualification group was not as tough. Moroever, their playoff opponent was the overwhelming underdog. The Azzurri finished second behind Switzerland in the group which meant they had to host North Macedonia in a single World Cup qualification playoff. Aleksander Trajkovski struck late as North Macedonia stunned Italy to dump the European champions out of the World Cup.

Qualification for the upcoming Euros is in the balance as Gli Azzurri need four points from there last two games to finish in a automatic qualification position. One of those games is extremely pivotal as it is against a Ukraine team who is vying for the second automatic qualification position.

Struggles against the top nations

The Italians have found life difficult against the football powerhouses recently. This is something they need to work on as if they qualify for the tournament, they will face one of the elite countries in the Euros.

They lost to England twice in Euro qualifying and struggled in the two Nations League games they played against them. In the second qualification game, they could not live with Jude Bellingham, who is one of the fearsome playmakers England have at their disposal.

Italy lost to their last two games against Spain, both coming in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals in (2021 and 2023), lost 5-2 and drew 1-1 in their previous two matches against Germany, and failed to impose themselves in the 3-0 Finalissima defeat to Argentina at Wembley. Such results will have to change as soon as possible if Italy wishes to be considered among the elite once more.

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