Sport | 6 days ago
Sweden qualify for the World Cup... thoughts immediately turn to Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Had to happen...

Italy will not be at the World Cup in Russia next summer. Just let that sink in.

The four-time winners, a regular fixture at the tournament since missing their last one in 1958, could not get past Sweden in the qualifiers.

Losing the first leg 1-0 in Stockholm last week, many would've backed Italy to overcome Sweden in a packed San Siro Stadium in Milan on Monday night. However, despite dominating possession and having the best of the chances, it was not to be. The Swedish defence held firm, the game ending goalless.

While much of the talk will be about Italian failure, nothing should be taken away from Sweden for reaching the finals. Their achievements were perhaps all the more impressive given that this campaign was their first since the international retirement of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one of the greatest - if not the greatest - Swedish player.

Perhaps predictably, however, as soon as the full-time whistle sounded in Milan, those on social media were already wondering if the Manchester United striker would be tempted out of international retirement by the promise of a trip to Russia...

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Ibrahimovic is yet to return from the knee injury he suffered for United last April. When he does, you can almost certainly expect there to be even more talk of a u-turn on his international retirement.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Italy, Sweden