Mixed fortunes and Italian football seem to have gone hand in hand for quite some time now. There was the shameful era of cheating that brought the Scudetto to its knees, but most (though not all) of the country’s major teams managed to claw their way back to the top tier of football and in 2017 Juventus made it to the final of the Champions League again.
However, the fact that the Italian national team failed to make it to the 2018 World Cup has been seen by many as a significant step backwards. After all, this is a team that won the World Cup back in 2006 and have reached the final of the European Championship since. This means that stories about the possibility of Ronaldo coming to Italy seem to paint only half the story in a country where football is still in something of a strange in-between place.
Forza Italia? Poker v Football
Perhaps the best way to judge Italian football in 2018 is by looking at the situation as if it were a game of poker. After all, there is a degree of bluffing when it comes to how strong a hand each respective nation’s team has at any moment in time, and in particular sports betting has just as much to do with perception in terms of backing a team as it does facts.
The tie-in between casino, poker, and sports betting has always been close in this respect; Betway’s casino and sportsbook are both excellent examples of this in terms of attracting gamblers to partake in both activities. In the case of Italy, it seems clear that certain punters choose to back clubs like Juventus (who are arguably keeping their poker face straighter than straight when putting in their bid for Ronaldo) based more on reputation than actual performance and proportion of victories.
The World Cup: A lament
What does remain true is that had Italy made it to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, they would probably have stood a decent chance of success given the relative lack of big-name teams reaching the latter stages of the tournament. For now, though, Italian fans will be left thinking what might have been as Croatia, Russia, Japan, Sweden, and even England managed to progress further than pre-tournament expectations seemed to dictate.
With this in mind, perhaps a victory for an Italian club in Europe next year could spur on future international success for the nation, in the process bringing an end to any doubts as to whether Italy really are back at the very top of the football pyramid.