After the final round of World Cup qualifiers and a domestic championship, here's who's having the worst case of the Mondays this morning.
In Stockholm on Friday, Italy came one conceded goal closer to missing out on World Cup 2018 — the first World Cup they’d miss in 60 years — as they fell 1-0 to Sweden in the first leg of their playoff.
Of course, 1-0 is not an impossible scoreline to overcome. But they might rue the fact that they aren’t heading home with an away goal in their pocket. Just one goal from Sweden will put them at the bottom of a much steeper mountain to climb.
It is hard to imagine a World Cup without the European giants, especially as it would be the last chance to see Buffon in one. The whole team, but he and his legacy especially deserve better than this.
Three more countries were put on the World Cup chopping block this weekend.
A 1-0 aggregate loss to Switzerland cost Northern Ireland their ticket to Russia — after a questionable penalty call in the first leg gave Switzerland their crucial goal — and a 4-1 aggregate loss to Croatia cost Greece theirs. Ivory Coast also found themselves with a shock loss in their must-win home game against Morocco.
It will be the first World Cup without Northern Ireland in 32 years, and Ivory Coast lost the chance to qualify for their fourth consecutive tournament. Instead, they join the ranks of those who will be watching from their couches.
Like Italy, Denmark were disappointed coming out of the first leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off against the Republic of Ireland; the most they could get out of the home match was a 0-0 draw. After the result, Denmark fans booed their side off the field while the Republic of Ireland cheered theirs.
Denmark were lucky not to conceded an away goal, but Ireland will have home-field advantage for the second leg — and they will be fighting hard to reach their first World Cup in 16 years.
Will they end up as lucky as they were at Euro 1992? Probably not. But the Irish coach has ‘no doubt’ that Denmark will put at least one goal through, so they aren’t going to go down this round without a fight.
The Cosmos had the chance to be crowned NASL champions for the fourth of five times this past weekend, as they traveled to San Francisco to take on the Deltas in the final.
Instead, the Deltas took the game 2-0 in their first-ever final appearance — what’s more, in their first-ever year as a club. The Cosmos’ status as league and championship veterans did them no good.
However, it’s be a bittersweet victory for the Deltas; it could be not only their last-ever game, and possibly the last-ever game of the NASL in general. After the game the commissioner of the league reassured fans that they are doing all they can to keep both the team and the league alive, but the uncertainty will stay a cloud hanging over this celebration.
The only silver lining is that nobody can take your championship trophy away from you if there’s never another championship game.