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Team Italy and gamble in the World Cup play-off

22 Mar 2022 | 10:45 | Football

Football like Italy is not allowed to miss two consecutive World Cups, coach Roberto Mancini should understand this.

Bad results in the second half of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers have pushed Italy into a corner with the need to find a way to qualify for the world cup through the play-off door. This must not be the failed campaign of Roberto Mancini and his students.

The draw against Macedonia, Turkey and Portugal can be considered death. But if Italy knows how to wake up bravery and class like what appeared at Euro 2020, all scenarios are possible. The only question now is whether Italy is ready?

Team Italy and gamble in the World Cup play-off - Football

Italy cannot reproduce this image after Euro 2020. Photo: Reuters. 

Public gamble

Attacking not knowing how to score is Italy’s biggest problem in the second half of the 2022 World Cup qualifying period. Mancini and his students let Bulgaria, Switzerland, and Northern Ireland continuously hold draws in impossible positions. Put enough pressure on the opponent’s goal.

Federico Chiesa is Italy’s best spearhead at Euro 2020 with superb performances in knock-out matches against Austria, Spain or England, but the star born in 1997 was in the hospital recovering from injury when he broke. Knee ligament from November 2021. Without Chiesa, the rest of Italy’s attacks like Ciro Immobile, Domenico Berardi, Giacomo Raspadori, Moise Kean, Lorenzo Insigne also don’t know how to hit the opponent’s net.

Team Italy and gamble in the World Cup play-off - Football

Scamacca is the great belief of Italy in the play-off stage of the World Cup 2022. Photo: Reuters. 

It is too easy to blame Jorginho with consecutive missed penalties against Switzerland for Italy’s failure to win a direct ticket to the Euro. However, if the attack completes the right task like they scored 13 goals in 7 matches at Euro 2020, Italy does not need such last-minute opportunities on the 11m mark.

The change of attack is the biggest topic that Mancini has faced since losing a direct ticket to the World Cup. Along with Chiesa’s injury and Immobile’s never-ending form, the Azzurri must find other new ways to prepare for two life-and-death games in the play-offs.

Many options have been analyzed, including Mario Balotelli, who is playing in Turkey. But when closing the list for the two play-off matches, the Italian press soon circled three names Gianluca Scammacca, Domenico Berardi and Giacomo Raspadori as the great beliefs of Italy at this stage.

Sassuolo’s trio are in high form in Serie A, scoring 36 goals, more than any other combination. The 1.95 m tall Scamacca is the biggest hope of the Italian team in the top playing position in the attack.

Immobile after 2 goals in the Euro 2020 group stage sank in the face of pressure and tall central defenders in the knockout round. Scamacca with its physical advantage, and the habit of leaning against the opponent’s defense can be the answer to the Azzurri’s poor ideas and lack of strength.

Mancini also confirmed Scamacca’s opportunity in Italy in an interview at the end of January. The coach emphasized: ” We always believe in Scamacca. He has strength and technique and plays regularly. It is very likely that he will be Italy’s number one choice in the play-offs .”

 

But on March 21, Mr. Mancini hinted at the possibility of using Scamacca in the starting lineup against North Macedonia: ” Berardi and Scamacca are doing well, but I can’t reveal the starting lineup right now. No problem. What’s the matter with the midfield and the strikers “.

The Italian press is speculating that the Azzurri may change the squad to prepare for this period. The Euro champion will no longer use the 4-3-3 formation that helped them win the European throne. Italy can switch to playing with 2 strikers and 2 wingers in the 4-2-4 formation, which is popular in the offensive deployment phase in Serie A at the moment.

In that layout, Scamacca, Berardi and maybe even Nicolo Zaniolo have a chance.

Pessimism

Italy’s crown at Euro 2020 is a combination of veterans like Giorgio Chiellini-Leonardo Bonucci and young and mature factors like Jorginho, Donnarumma, Chiesa, Barella, Verratti, Insigne.

The problem for Italy at the moment is that not many factors remain stable. Chiellini steel wall – Bonucci played a total of 10 matches in 2022. Donnarumma constantly made mistakes in the PSG shirt, Verratti could not play the role of the midfield pillar in the unstable squad of the French team. Only Insigne, Barella or Jorginho are still in a stable form, enough for Mancini to believe.

Team Italy and gamble in the World Cup play-off - Football

Chiellini Wall – Bonucci has not played too much since the beginning of 2022 and the ability of this duo to play in the match against North Macedonia is open. Photo: Reuters. 

The simultaneous decline in the performance of almost all the stars after the campaign to conquer Euro 2020 is not too difficult to understand with a short-term good football background like Italy. When returning to the club level, with a weekly playing density and repeated training sessions, events are easy to happen to old men like Chiellini, Bonucci or young stars suddenly change the playing environment. like Donnarumma.

Another issue that Italy fans should not forget: The most prominent player at Euro 2020 besides Chiesa is Leonardo Spinazzolla who is also recovering from an injury. The absence of the drill on the left wing of Spinazzolla is one of the big reasons why Italy suddenly came to a halt in the second half of World Cup qualifying. And so far, there has not been any sign that Italy has solved the problem of “inflammation of the wings”.

Emerson played a full role at Lyon, while Cristiano Biraghi was a mediocre defender at Fiorentina. It is too difficult for Mancini to expect these two factors to recreate the image of Spinazzolla at Euro 2020.

“Optimism” and “confident” were the messages Mancini repeated in his speeches after Italy lost its direct ticket to the World Cup. With this leader, Italy’s goal is to win tickets to Qatar and conquer the 5th World Cup in history.

But many factors at this time are showing instability in the force of the Euro champion. Behind the confidence in the immediate goals, it is not clear what gambles Mancini is brewing in his hands.

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