Roberto Baggio has labelled Italy not qualifying automatically for the World Cup for their Euro 2020 triumph as “madness”.
Italy were penalty shoot-out victors against England in the Euro 2020 last July, but followed that up with World Cup play-off qualifying defeat against North Macedonia in March.
That meant the Azzurri have failed to qualify for two straight World Cups, having missed out on both Russia in 2018 and Qatar four years later.
Roberto Mancini’s side met the Copa America winners Argentina on Wednesday in a match between the champions of European and South American football, but were thoroughly outclassed in a 3-0 defeat.
Argentina displayed the gulf in class between the two sides, with some suggesting Lionel Scaloni’s side could be favourites for the World Cup in November.
Scaloni declared in the build-up to the ‘Finalissima’ that Italy deserved a World Cup spot, and Baggio echoed those sentiments by suggesting the Azzurri should have been offered automatic qualification.
“The biggest shame is that Italy didn’t go straight to Qatar having won the European Championship,” Italy legend Baggio said on Thursday, as quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“It is scandalous, it seems crazy to me. Will these guys have earned a reward or not? If I had been in their place I don’t really know how I would have reacted…
“It’s the worst thing to accept, because in a 90-minute match anything can happen, one action goes wrong and you stay at home?”
Baggio was also quick to point towards the difference in quality between Argentina and Italy at Wembley Stadium.
“Scaloni’s team has great talents, but the Azzurri have suffered greatly from being eliminated from the World Cup, the psychological backlash it was enormous,” he added.
“The level of calmness of the two teams on the pitch was not comparable.”
Italy will hope to somewhat make amends for the Argentina loss and World Cup failure when they host Germany in their Nations League opener on Saturday.