The Italy team that crashed out at the group stage when defending their FIFA World Cup™ title has been labelled their worst in history by the country's press.

"It's total darkness," said La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The worst Italy we have ever seen go out."

Italy were eliminated after a 3-2 defeat by Slovakia in Johannesburg, which left Marcello Lippi's side bottom of Group F with a paltry two points.

It was the darkest and most terrible day in the history of Italian football.

La Gazzetta dello Sport

"It was the darkest and most terrible day in the history of Italian football," said La Gazzetta's editorial next to a photo of captain Fabio Cannavaro consoling Fabio Quagliarella, one of Italy's scorers in yesterday's match in Rustenburg.

Tutto Sport compared the team to mozzarella cheese, while La Gazzetta said time had caught up with an ageing squad in the end.

"Like Dorian Gray's mirror, on this afternoon in Johannesburg we saw the picture of an old, defeated team without a style of play or any ideas, outclassed technically and physically by a modest Slovak team," the paper said.

It was the first time in 36 years that Italy had failed to progress through the first round of a FIFA World Cup, and they repeated the feat of France, who fell at the first hurdle as reigning champions in 2002.