Italy’s absence from the world Cup is a stunning blow. By drawing 0-0 with Sweden in Milan in November last year, the Italian national football team missed a trip to Russia for this 21st quadrennial contest to find the best team in world football.

The Azzurri let down not only the Milanese, the Romans, the Venetians; they let down the great Italian diaspora who now have to suffer through the first World Cup since 1958 without representation. They also let down Melbourne-based news editors who want a reliable World Cup story. Traipsing to Lygon Street in the early hours of the morning to document rabid fans is a tried and true manoeuvre for collecting World Cup colour pieces.