Were expectations met?
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli resigned immediately after elimination, explaining: "The technical project failed." Runners-up at UEFA EURO 2012 and third in last year's FIFA Confederations Cup, the Azzurri knew they were facing a difficult group in Brazil. However, after starting the campaign with a convincing 2-1 win against England, expectations were high. "After one match you have to keep your feet firmly on the ground," former Italy left-back Antonio Cabrini told UEFA.com after that game. "You must not get overexcited or depressed – the players need to focus on qualifying from the group." Prandelli's charges lost 1-0 against both Costa Rica and Uruguay, meaning the 2006 winners exit at the group stage for the second successive FIFA World Cup.
What the media say
Gazzetta dello Sport: Smashed. There are no excuses for this failure.
Corriere dello Sport: Nullified. A global collapse.
What they say
Cesare Prandelli: "The fact that we didn't score goals means we have certain structural limitations. We lost this World Cup against Costa Rica. I put on four strikers, but we still didn't create scoring opportunities. In these situations, there is physicality needed as well as quality. Uruguay and Costa Rica were clearly quicker and were first to every ball."
Gianluigi Buffon: "It's a sad day for us as a group. We started the tournament well and we had great expectations, but then reality was different. A team who fail to score in the last two games and create very little in attack deserve to go home."
Andrea Pirlo will likely quit the national team after this World Cup and it will not be easy to fill his shoes. However, Italy seem to have found another midfield mainstay in the shape of 21-year-old Marco Verratti. Another Paris Saint-Germain player, Salvatore Sirigu, proved against England that Italy will be in safe hands when captain Buffon, 36, hangs up his gloves.
Room for improvement
After the good start against England, Italy not only failed to score against Costa Rica and Uruguay but also struggled to create chances in 180 minutes of football. Critics focused on Mario Balotelli, replaced by Prandelli at half-time against Uruguay after an early booking, but the Italy coach was short of options up front. A return to form for Giuseppe Rossi, who failed to make the cut after recovering from a third serious knee injury, would certainly help.
The aforementioned Verratti is already well established at European level after two impressive seasons in Paris. His former Pescara Calcio team-mate Ciro Immobile, meanwhile, failed to make an impact in Brazil, after scoring 22 goals in Serie A for Torino FC last season. His summer move to Borussia Dortmund, however, could provide him with crucial experience on the big stage.
Italy kick off UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group H in Norway on 8 September. In a tough section also featuring fellow World Cup finalists Croatia, as well as Bulgaria, Azerbaijan and Malta, they will have to re-organise quickly under a new coach in order to avoid any further slip-ups.
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