Zola: Missing World Cup could help Italy

Gianfranco Zola

Former Italy international Gianfranco Zola says it may not be the worst thing in the world if Italy fails to qualify for next year’s World Cup.

The Azzurri were drawn against Sweden for the two-legged playoffs to reach the tournament in Russia, but the former Chelsea attacker thinks his country needs a slap in the face.

"I remember when Germany were eliminated from Euro 2000," Zola told La Repubblica. "That disappointment acted as the catalyst for real change. German football is back at the top.

"[Italy] teams have been focusing on the result and not the performance for too long. There’s also a lack of quality: in my time, there were seven or eight alternatives in my position.

"Now Italy are struggling to produce creative players. Spain, on the other hand, have so many ‘fantasisti’ and they all get to play."

Italy will face Sweden home and away between the 9th and 14th of November.