With the opening ceremony of the 2018 FIFA World Championship on Sunday, Italy will embark on its first ever tournament with only one World Cup qualifier.
The country’s four remaining qualifiers will be the same as those from the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Brazil and the Netherlands.
The World Cup’s first two qualifiers will take place in June and August 2018 respectively.
It’s a massive turnaround for the Italian football association, whose players were expected to get more than 1,000 minutes of playing time against Russia in the opening tournament, but were only given a few minutes.
The players will play together against a total of 28 teams in their first World Cup, with the final between the winner and the runner-up.
The competition is expected to cost the Italian federation up to €400 million ($475 million), but will also have an impact on Italy’s economy.
The cost of the first tournament is estimated at €150 million, with a new stadium expected to be built in the south of Italy and a stadium for the second round expected to come online in 2021.
The opening ceremony will also be broadcast live online in Italy on the BBC and the BBC Sport website.