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Wild-eyed fury, urchin’s grin, sheer dynamism – Gianluigi Buffon had it all | Richard Williams

Gianluigi Buffon did not betray the great tradition of Italian defending in the World Cup exit against Sweden. The problems lay elsewhere.

Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic has made an impressive recovery from the career-threatening knee ligament injury he suffered in April 2017

Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic has made an impressive recovery from the career-threatening knee ligament injury he suffered in April 2017

Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic has made an impressive recovery from the career-threatening knee ligament injury he suffered in April 2017 (AFP Photo/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND)

Italian natiopnal soccer team head coach Gian Piero Ventura (L) and captain Gianluigi Buffon (R) attend a press conference at Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, 09 November 2017 (reissued 15 November 2017). Gian Piero Ventura have been sacked as Italian national soccer team head coach after Italy failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1958, media reports claimed on 15 November 2017. EPA

Italian natiopnal soccer team head coach Gian Piero Ventura (L) and captain Gianluigi Buffon (R) attend a press conference at Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, 09 November 2017 (reissued 15 November 2017). Gian Piero Ventura have been sacked as Italian national soccer team head coach after Italy failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1958, media reports claimed on 15 November 2017. EPA

Italian natiopnal soccer team head coach Gian Piero Ventura (L) and captain Gianluigi Buffon (R) attend a press conference at Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, 09 November 2017 (reissued 15 November 2017). Gian Piero Ventura have been sacked as Italian national soccer team head coach after Italy failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1958, media reports claimed on 15 November 2017. EPA

Italy coach Ventura fired after missing World Cup place

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura gestures during the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Italy coach Ventura fired after missing World Cup place

Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is comforted by Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura after Italy failed to qualify at the end of the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Italy coach Ventura fired after missing World Cup place

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura looks down during the World Cup qualifying play-off return leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (Daniel Dal Zennaro/ANSA via AP)

Italy coach Ventura fired after missing World Cup place

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura walks on the pitch during a training session ahead of Monday's World Cup qualifying play-off return leg soccer match against Sweden, in Appiano Gentile, near Milan, Italy, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Italy coach Ventura fired after missing World Cup place

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura looks at the ground during the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Italy vs Sweden

Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Italy vs Sweden - San Siro, Milan, Italy - November 13, 2017 Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura looks dejected after the match. REUTERS/Max Rossi

2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Italy vs Sweden

Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Italy vs Sweden - San Siro, Milan, Italy - November 13, 2017 Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura looks dejected after the match. REUTERS/Max Rossi

Ventura sacked from Italy post after World Cup qualifying failure

The 69-year-old was relieved of his duties two days after his side shockingly failed to overcome Sweden in a two-leg qualifying play-off

Refusal of Italian football chief to resign sparks outrage

Italian players react to their elimination at the end of the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Refusal of Italian football chief to resign sparks outrage

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura gestures during the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Correction: Italy-World Cup-Photo Gallery story

FILE - In this Sunday, July 9, 2006 file photo Italy's Fabio Cannavaro, top center, holds up t he World Cup trophy as he celebrates after winning the final of the soccer World Cup between Italy and France in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. On Nov. 13, 2017 after a scoreless draw with Sweden four-time champion Italy lost its World Cup qualifying playoff on 1-0 aggregate. Paradoxically, the start of Italy's decline can be traced back to 2006 the year Italy won its fourth World Cup. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, files)

Correction: Italy-World Cup-Photo Gallery story

FILE - In this Sunday, July 9, 2006 file photo Fabio Cannavaro lifts the soccer World Cup trophy after Italy defeated France in the final in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany. On Nov. 13, 2017 after a scoreless draw with Sweden four-time champion Italy lost its World Cup qualifying playoff on 1-0 aggregate. Paradoxically, the start of Italy's decline can be traced back to 2006 the year Italy won its fourth World Cup. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, Files)

Italy's 'lost generation' will lack any World Cup experience

CORRECTS IDENTITY OF PLAYER AT RIGHT Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, left, and Federico Bernardeschi react to their team's elimination in the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Italy's 'lost generation' will lack any World Cup experience

Italy's Andrea Belotti reacts after a missed chance during the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Italy's 'lost generation' will lack any World Cup experience

Italy's Federico Bernardeschi controls the ball during a training session ahead of Monday's World Cup qualifying play-off return leg soccer match against Sweden, in Appiano Gentile, near Milan, Italy, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Italy's 'lost generation' will lack any World Cup experience

Italy's Jorginho, center, smiles with his teammates Alessandro Florenzi, right, and Andrea Belotti during a training session ahead of Monday's World Cup qualifying play-off return leg soccer match against Sweden, in Appiano Gentile, near Milan, Italy, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Italy's 'lost generation' will lack any World Cup experience

Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is hugged by teammate Leonardo Bonucci after their team was eliminated in the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Insigne: I had to accept Ventura's team selection for Sweden nightmare

Italy missed out on the World Cup due to a 1-0 aggregate defeat to the Swedes, in which the Napoli attacker was not used

UEFA World Cup play-offs: Fixtures, dates, draw & everything you need to know

The likes of the Republic of Ireland, Sweden and Italy are looking to qualify for next summer's finals in Russia through a one-off, do-or-die tie

UEFA World Cup play-offs: Fixtures, dates, draw & everything you need to know

The likes of the Republic of Ireland, Sweden and Italy are looking to qualify for next summer's finals in Russia through a one-off, do-or-die tie

UEFA World Cup play-offs: Fixtures, dates, draw & everything you need to know

The likes of the Republic of Ireland, Sweden and Italy are looking to qualify for next summer's finals in Russia through a one-off, do-or-die tie

UEFA World Cup play-offs: Fixtures, dates, draw & everything you need to know

The likes of the Republic of Ireland, Sweden and Italy are looking to qualify for next summer's finals in Russia through a one-off, do-or-die tie

UEFA World Cup play-offs: Fixtures, dates, draw & everything you need to know

The likes of the Republic of Ireland, Sweden and Italy are looking to qualify for next summer's finals in Russia through a one-off, do-or-die tie

UEFA World Cup play-offs: Fixtures, dates, draw & everything you need to know

The likes of the Republic of Ireland, Sweden and Italy are looking to qualify for next summer's finals in Russia through a one-off, do-or-die tie

Buffon's tears hurt me, admits Italy legend Dino Zoff

The goalkeeper was left inconsolable after a draw against Sweden left them without hope of making the tournament, and Zoff sympathised with him

Italy defeat no surprise: Sweden is jinx opponent

Swedish players react to their qualification at the end of the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Italy defeat no surprise: Sweden is jinx opponent

Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon waves as he leaves the pitch after the elimination of his team in the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Italy defeat no surprise: Sweden is jinx opponent

Italy's Ciro Immobile, foreground, and Italy's Andrea Belotti, seated left, react to their team's elimination in the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

The Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who retired from the Swedish national team in 2016, was among the crowd in the San Siro to cheer on his former Sweden teammates but insisted ahead of the game there would be no comeback

The Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who retired from the Swedish national team in 2016, was among the crowd in the San Siro to cheer on his former Sweden teammates but insisted ahead of the game there would be no comeback

The Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who retired from the Swedish national team in 2016, was among the crowd in the San Siro to cheer on his former Sweden teammates but insisted ahead of the game there would be no comeback (AFP Photo/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND)

2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Italy vs Sweden

Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Italy vs Sweden - San Siro, Milan, Italy - November 13, 2017 Italy players look dejected after the match REUTERS/Max Rossi

2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Italy vs Sweden

Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Italy vs Sweden - San Siro, Milan, Italy - November 13, 2017 Italy’s Stephan El Shaarawy looks dejected as Sweden’s Emil Forsberg looks on after the match REUTERS/Max Rossi

2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Italy vs Sweden

Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Italy vs Sweden - San Siro, Milan, Italy - November 13, 2017 Italy players look dejected after the match REUTERS/Max Rossi

Italian soccer fans need something else to do next summer

A Italy fan, his face painted in the colors of the national flag, cheers prior to the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

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