The narrative has been dominated by one of the most ignominious defeats in the history of Italian football, the Azzurri missing out on a World Cup for the first time since 1958.
While Italy draw 0-0 in Monday night’s play-off second leg, losing 1-0 on aggregate, Sweden’s role in one of the modern game’s most shocking upsets cannot be understated. Neither can the heroic performance of 32-year-old centre-back Andreas Granqvist.
The veteran defender of 68 caps rolled back the years with a near faultless performance to keep the vaunted Italian attackers of Ciro Immobile, Andrea Belotti and co goalless across two legs.
And his performance in the San Siro on Monday, capped by a superb first-half block and a clearance to stop an Immobile effort trickling over the line, was as crucial to Sweden’s victory as Jakub Johansson’s first-leg winner.
It was the sort of performance which proved that the Krasnodar defender still belongs at a high level. Perhaps at a place like Celtic – if the Scottish champions are enthused enough by Granqvist’s display to revive a deal that has been dead for years.
The former Wigan Athletic defender told the Daily Record in April 2010 that Celtic were interested in bringing him to Scotland. Seven years on, Brendan Rodgers should consider bringing the deal back to life with Celtic crying out for reinforcements at centre-half.
Injuries have stretched The Hoops’ defence to its limit this season but Granqvist would, on paper, be an affordable and short-term solution – albeit one who proved he still has plenty of energy left in those ageing limbs.
Rodgers told the Scottish Sun that he was eyeing ‘affordability’ in January with a centre-back his top target. Mikael Lustig’s international partner could fit the bill.