While the World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign might have been a complete disaster for Italy, some of Milan’s stars made it to Russia. This post, by no means, is covering the issues with Seleccion but rather focuses on how our guys have performed and how did it go for all of them. Before I start with it, I would like to say it was a shambolic performance and Ventura & Co. have to resign with dignity, if they have any left. It has been decades since Italy have missed out on a World Cup, but as they say, football is unpredictable.
Well we might not see the class of Maldini and Nesta in the near future, but our own Leonardo Bonucci played with some passion on Monday. For most, it was just a home game for Italy but for him, it was more than that. He captains the mighty Red and Black, the leader of Rossoneri, and it was San Siro: his new home. Regardless of the result, he played his heart out. For that I will always give him the credit that he deserves. Then comes the highly talented Gianluigi Donnarumma, he didn’t feature in the match but after Gigi Buffon leaves, with his legacy behind him, Donnarumma is set for a starring role to protect the Azzuri goal for years to come. So, we will see this Donna-Leo partnership for upcoming years for Milan as well as Azzuri.
In hindsight to all that has happened to Italy, let’s move on to a rather happy ending of the break.
Nikola Kalinic and Ricardo Rodriguez have both qualified for Russia 2018 WC with their respective teams playing a crucial part in the campaign. It might be an arguable statement but in my opinion (just a fan) Ricardo is one of the best player in his position at the moment. If you have forgot what he was before coming to Milan, you need to watch him in his Wolfsburg days and specially the UCL legs against Real Madrid. After recovering from the injury he has been superb again. He continued to show a great display of performance and had played a near perfect match for me against Northern Ireland. He was just something else in Belfast. Scored one, saved another and dominated the flank with that warhorse like stamina of his, it was just amazing.
When you have star players like Modric, Perišić, Rakitić etc. it is not always easy to grab the headlines all the time. Most of the papers are highlighting Luka Modric’s performance in both legs against Greece, but it was Nikola Kalinic who has performed to the highest order exactly when his team needed him. He was crucial in winning the first penalty, which was then converted by Luka, and has scored the second. Those front fours was superb in Zagreb and a hefty 4-1 meant they have a solid chance to qualify and so they did in Greece with the final aggregate of 4-1 (0-0 on the night). Good luck to both Ricardo and Nikola in Russia.
Although Portugal has yet to face United States in a friendly, who have something in common with Italy in terms of football, Andre Silva’s Portugal have already booked a birth for Russia 2018 WC. Heartbreak for Milan’s Suso, Çalhanoğlu, Gomez and Kessie as well for not qualifying for the WC as well. But hoping for the best for Montella’s men to turn around the season.