Leonardo Bonucci has no doubt Italy will recover from their World Cup qualifying humiliation to be a major power once again, pointing out they produced a similar response not so long ago.
Italy were incredibly defeated 1-0 by North Macedonia in Thursday’s Qatar 2022 qualifying play-off semi-final, with Aleksandar Trajkovski’s stoppage-time winner stunning world football.
Roberto Mancini’s men had dominated the match, but Trajkovski’s speculative long-range effort left Azzurri players and coaching staff looking dismayed.
It marked a monumental change in fortunes from last year when a largely unfancied Italy side won Euro 2020, which was seen a huge achievement given their absence from Russia 2018.
As such, this will be the first time in World Cup history Italy have missed consecutive tournaments, with their failure to reach the 2018 edition instigating something of a rebuild of the senior set-up.
Mancini has seemingly escaped much of the criticism, with many fans of the opinion he overachieved significantly when guiding them to European Championship success last year, and Bonucci appears to be confident Italy will respond swiftly and efficiently.
Bonucci, who missed Thursday’s defeat due to injury, wrote on Instagram: “The two emotions are at opposite ends. The great euphoria and joy of the summer [at Euro 2020] are clearly contrasted with the disappointment and bitterness of this exclusion, exacerbated even more by not being able to help my team-mates for those 90 minutes.
“Now is the time to look ahead. Last summer we took the credit and praise for having done something unique; today we must take responsibility for not having earned the passage for our own demerits, more than for the merits of others.
“It is time for concrete and in-depth analysis to start over, to give Italy and the Italians what they deserve.
“We have done this before. And the climb has already begun, for me, for us.
“It will be hard to get back to the top, but we have already shown that we know how to get there. The future is now!”
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