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Italian soccer is on the brink of disaster

Italy
Italy must beat Sweden today to avoid snapping its consecutive World Cup streak.

Italy have qualified for 14 consecutive World Cups, dating back to Chile in 1962. But this year, the Azzurri finished second in their UEFA qualifying group and were drawn into a two-legged playoff for qualification to Russia.

How did the four-time World Cup champions end up in this position? Part of the story is bad luck and the vicissitudes of FIFA's ranking system.

Click here for more on why Italy's problems run deeper than a bad draw.