There was precious little sympathy for Italy following their exit from Euro 2004, with most papers pinning the blame on the players.

“A team gone to seed. Don’t look for alibis,” was the headline of a front page commentary in La Repubblica daily.

“In our national team there is not a single real champion,” wrote another commentator in La Stampa newspaper.

Italy beat Bulgaria 2-1 in their final group C match but failed to go through as the other two teams in the group, Denmark and Sweden, edged them out.

“A fraud foretold? Difficult to find the proof,” said Corriere della Sera.

La Gazzetta dello Sport said the Scandinavian derby raised many doubts, but added that the time had come for coach Giovanni Trapattoni to hand over the reins.