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Italy fails to qualify for 2018 World Cup after drawing with Sweden

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ITALY has missed out on qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1958 after being held to a 0-0 draw by Sweden at the San Siro in Milan.

After suffering a shock 1-0 loss in the first leg in Sweden, the men in blue couldn’t find the back of the net on Tuesday no matter how hard they tried. The scoreless draw meant Sweden won 1-0 on aggregate and the Azzurri will now be watching the 2018 World Cup from afar.

Before the match the prospect of Italy missing out on football’s showpiece event was described as the “apocalypse”, and that apocalypse has now arrived.

Italian ‘apocalypse’ is real

Italy will be watching the 2018 World Cup from home after it drew 0-0 with Sweden in their do-or-die World Cup qualifier on Tuesday morning.

Heading into the clash with a 1-0 deficit after suffering a shock loss to the Swedes in the first leg of the two-match tie, the Azzurri were unable to find a breakthrough at the San Siro in Milan and will now miss their first World Cup since 1958.

“I’m not sorry for myself but all of Italian football. We failed at something which also means something on a social level. There’s regret at finishing like that, not because time passes,” Italian goalkeeper and captain Ginaluigi Buffon said.

“There is certainly a future for Italian football, as we have pride, ability, determination and after bad tumbles, we always find a way to get back on our feet.

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“I leave a squad of talent that will have their say, including Gigio Donnarumma and Mattia Perin. I want to give a hug to Chiello, Barza, Leo and Lele, who I had almost 10 years alongside. I thank the lads who were with us and, although it wasn’t enough, I hope that we gave them something.
“In football you win as a group, you lose as a group, you divide the credit and the blame. The coach is part of this entire group.”

It’s a crushing blow for a country that has won football’s most prestigious tournament four times. Despite finishing with 75 per cent of the possession after 90 minutes and taking 23 shots to Sweden’s four, luck deserted the home side and the scoreless draw crushed Italian hearts.

Italy enjoyed its fair share of luck as Sweden was denied what looked like two clear-cut penalties for handballs, first by Matteo Darmian and then Andrea Barzagli. Italy had a penalty appeal of its own waved off by referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz when Marco Parolo was tripped from behind by Ludwig
The Azzurri struggled to carve out clear chances against a solid Sweden side, and tested goalkeeper Robin Olsen only once. Of its 23 shots, only six were on target. El Shaarawy’s powerful shot at the death was the best of the opportunities but Olsen was up to the task and parried it away.

The Brazilian-born Jorginho was handed his competitive debut by Italian coach Gian Piero Ventura, and the midfielder impressed with some deft passing. He created Italy’s best chances with two throughballs for Ciro Immobile, who hit the netting from a tight angle from one. Immbobile beat Olsen with another but Andreas Granqvist got back for a decisive goal-line clearance.

Alessandro Florenzi was also back following a year out after twice tearing a knee ligament, and the midfielder forced Olsen into a neat save, while a cross of his was also deflected onto the crossbar in the second half. Meanwhile, the highly rated Lorenzo Insigne surprisingly didn’t get onto the pitch at all.

Sweden has been a giant killer in qualifying as it surged towards a World Cup berth. It had already knocked out 2010 finalist The Netherlands before taking care of Italy on Tuesday.

The last major competitions Italy missed were the 1984 and 1992 European Championships.

It would be easy to lay the blame squarely on Gian Piero Ventura. The Italy coach will naturally take the lion’s share of the responsibility but his side’s problems run much deeper, the rot starting long before he took charge.

After winning the World Cup in 2006 for a fourth time, Italy went out at the group stage of the next two editions. It has fared somewhat better at the European Championships, reaching the final in 2012 and going out in the quarterfinals in 2008 and 2016.

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Cristiano Ronaldo wins fifth Ballon d’Or to equal Lionel Messi

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Goal — Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has won the 2017 Ballon d’Or.

It is the fifth time the Portugal international has won the prize, drawing him level with his great rival Lionel Messi for the most Ballons d’Or of all time.

Ronaldo scored 42 goals across all competitions during the 2016-17 season, leading Real Madrid to a La Liga and Champions League double.

The 32-year-old netted 25 times in La Liga last term and added 12 goals in the Champions League, including a brace in the final against Juventus.

“I’m very happy. To get this prize in Paris is a great experience, it’s marvelous,” Ronaldo told L’Equipe TV.

“It’s a great moment of my career. It’s something I wish I have every year. We had a marvelous year. I was the [top] goalscorer of the Champions League, so I want to thank my team-mates.
“They were important for me. And also thanks everybody who helped me to be in great form during the season.”

It’s the second straight year Ronaldo has won the award presented by France Football, and he was also named the Best FIFA Men’s Player of 2016-17 in October.

Ronaldo also took home the Ballon d’Or in 2008, 2013, and 2014.

FIFA formerly awarded the Ballon d’Or in conjunction with France Football, but the two entities split their prizes last year.

The Portugal star was joined in the top 30 by six of his Real Madrid team-mates: Karim Benzema (25th place), Toni Kroos (17th), Marcelo (16th), Isco (12th), Sergio Ramos (sixth) and Modric (fifth).

Ronaldo has picked up where he left off last season in this year’s Champions League, scoring in all six of Madrid’s group-stage matches – a feat that had never been accomplished before .

But he hasn’t matched that form in La Liga, netting just two times in 10 appearances thus far.

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Political Pundit Falsely Claims Colin Kaepernick Donated Money To Terrorists (Somalia Famine Relief)

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VIBE — On Friday (Dec. 1), “Fox & Friends” contributor Kevin Jackson shared his views on the award while downplaying Kaepernick’s legacy. The former NFL player was essentially isolated by the league in 2016 for taking a knee against police brutality, a moment that has later been repeated by supporters this year. As Salon points out, Kaepernick was also given the award for his deep-rooted relationship to social justice, but Jackson disagreed.

“Look, Kaepernick is no Ali,” he continued while calling the award a participation trophy. “And the idea that the left continue to want to sell this lie to America, that this man stands for something that supposedly is happening in this country that’s not, just shows you that the left will never give up on this narrative.”

He also accused the athlete of donating money to radical groups.

“Colin Kaepernick gives money to terrorists,” he said. “Look at the people he’s donated money to. These are “radicalists,” in many cases, ethnocentric racists black organizations and again, built on a lie. It would be different if we can really get behind this and feel like it was done in the spirit of the the guy getting a raw deal. Muhammad Ali got a raw deal. Colin Kaepernick did not get a raw deal.”

Kaepernick has donated to plenty of organizations such as the Coalition for the Homeless, Meals on Wheels, Somalia famine relief, NY groups Coalition for the Homeless, DREAM and many more detailed on his website. None have any ties to radical views or movements.

Lonnie Ali, Muhammad’s widow, presented Kaepernick with the award while praising his passion for social justice.

“I am proud to be able to present this to Colin for his passionate defense of social justice and civil rights for all people,” Ali said. “Like Muhammad, Colin is a man who stands on his convictions with confidence and courage, undaunted by the personal sacrifices he has had to make to have his message heard. And he has used his celebrity and philanthropy to the benefit of some of our most vulnerable community members.”

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The 2018 World Cup draw is set — Here is where all 32 teams are grouped

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The 2018 FIFA World Cup draw is here!

There 32 countries were divided into four “pot.” The top seeds were all placed in Pot 1 and were assigned to groups first. Those were followed by the teams in Pot 2 and so on, with the lowest seeded teams in Pot 4 grouped last. A handful of adjustments happened along the way to keep teams from the same region out of the same groups.
Here are the four pots that determined the draw, based on the FIFA world rankings in October:
Pot 1: Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France
Pot 2: Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Croatia
Pot 3: Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran
Pot 4: Serbia, Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, South Korea and Saudi Arabia
Here are the groups:

GROUP A — Russia is the top seed
A1 — RUSSIA
A2 — SAUDI ARABIA
A3 — EGYPT
A4 — URUGUAY

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GROUP B — Portugal is the top seed
B1 — PORTUGAL
B2 — SPAIN
B3 — MOROCCO
B4 — IRAN

GROUP C — France is the top seed
C1 — FRANCE
C2 — AUSTRALIA
C3 — PERU
C4 — DENMARK

GROUP D — Argentina is the top seed
D1 — ARGENTINA
D2 — ICELAND
D3 — CROATIA
D4 — NIGERIA

GROUP E — BRAZIL is the top seed
E1 — BRAZIL
E2 — SWITZERLAND
E3 — COSTA RICA
E4 — SERBIA

GROUP F — GERMANY is the top seed
F1 — GERMANY
F2 — MEXICO
F3 — SWEDEN
F4 — SOUTH KOREA

GROUP G — BELGIUM is the top seed
G1 — BELGIUM
G2 — PANAMA
G3 — TUNISIA
G4 — ENGLAND
GROUP H — POLAND is the top seed
H1 — POLAND
H2 — SENEGAL
H3 — COLOMBIA
H4 — JAPAN

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