Italy can’t get rid of World Cup shadows

by | Nov 12, 2021 23:07

Italy missed a golden chance to qualify for the 2022 World Cup by drawing 1-1 against Switzerland, so their fate is no longer entirely in their hands, writes Lorenzo Bettoni at the Stadio Olimpico.

When Jorginho turned up to take a late penalty kick, not a single soul inside the vibrant Stadio Olimpico thought the Chelsea star would miss his third penalty kick in a row with the Azzurri.

Oddly, that’s exactly what happened. Jorginho sent the spot-kick over the bar, extending a terrible streak that began at Wembley in July during the UEFA Euro 2020 Final penalty shootout against England.

Everybody forgot about Jorginho’s error after the sweet end to the Final, except, perhaps, Jorginho himself.

However, it would be unfair to only blame the Chelsea star for Italy’s draw.

Italy 1-1 Switzerland | Di Lorenzo saves a point, when Jorginho fails from the spot

The Azzurri waited for Silvan Widmer’s opener to get into the game, they levelled the score through a Giovanni Di Lorenzo header, but didn’t create much trouble for the Swiss.

In the second half, Roberto Mancini tried everything to unlock the opponents’ defence, including using a false nine and introducing Giacomo Raspadori for the last ten minutes.

Ciro Immobile was watching the game in the stands and was kept busy during the halftime break by Lazio fans who asked him for pics and autographs.

Like it or not, Immobile remains the best centre forward in Italy, and his replacement Andrea Belotti wasn’t fully fit. No coincidence he didn’t manage to stay on the pitch for the whole game.

Although the Azzurri have an obvious problem with their strikers, they are not the reason why Italy failed to get all three points against Switzerland.

What matters now is to snatch a win against Northern Ireland, but the bad thing about tonight’s draw is that Italy’s fate is no longer in their hands.

How do Italy qualify for 2022 World Cup? All the options

They are on top of Group C on even points with Switzerland, but with a better goal difference: 11 to nine. Only the group winner books a place for Qatar 2022, while the runner-ups must go through the play-offs, something Italy would want to avoid after what happened in 2017.

Roberto Mancini’s side visit Northern Ireland in the last group stage game, while Switzerland host Bulgaria.

Oddly, a win in Northern Ireland may not be enough if Switzerland trash Bulgaria on Monday. Therefore, the Azzurri must win and score as many goals as possible to keep the Swiss at a safe distance.

If both Italy and Switzerland draw, the Azzurri would go through, if they both lose it will be down to goal difference again.

How do Italy qualify for 2022 World Cup? All the options

If their goal difference is the same after Monday’s matches, a list of criteria will determine the group winners. The first two are the ‘greatest number of goals scored in all group matches’ and ‘the greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned.’

Surely, La Nazionale have wasted a big chance to qualify for the World Cup. Had Jorginho scored, a point in Northern Ireland would have been enough to book their flight for Qatar. Now, they need to play, win and score as many goals as possible on Monday.

Somehow, despite their Euro 2020 win, Italy are still unable to get rid of the World Cup shadows. Four years ago, they hit rock bottom by failing to qualify for Russia 2018 with Giampiero Ventura in charge. The former Azzurri coach had announced his retirement only a few hours before kick-off, but the same petrifying feeling as four years ago was still in the air at the Stadio Olimpico tonight.

Italy are in a far better position than in 2017, but they are still unable to blow their World Cup fears away.


epa09579398 Italy's head coach Roberto Mancini reacts during the 2022 FIFA World Cup European qualifying Group C soccer match between Italy and Switzerland at the Olimpico stadium in Rome, Italy, 12 November 2021. EPA-EFE/ETTORE FERRARI


  1. Jarod KNowles

    It’s wake up time, time to address this very grave issue we have of clinical factor. Moments before Jorg who missed pen again and should not have taken that, well we had I think it was chiesa who kicked it over the same crossbeam. This is the No 1 problem with italy not a scudetta, refs, etc and this and that, forget all of that and let’s focus on this issue.

  2. JoeyAzzurri

    I’m honestly tired of saying this, but I feel like it has to be said yet again. Italy is a country where for whatever the reason is, does not seem to have the ability to produce a goal scorer \ natural striker. For reasons unknown, players like Belotti, Immobile, Berardi have been given chance after chance and it’s gotten to the point where you know in advance that none of them will be able to score. I wouldn’t even have those 3 on my team. At some point, think outside the box and try the youth. Playing those 3 is pointless. I would not be surprised to see Italy miss the world cup again. I suspect Switzerland will score goals, we won’t and Italy will end up losing in the playoffs, especially with the new format, it’s not going to help us.

  3. jobu

    “When Jorginho turned up to take a late penalty kick, not a single soul inside the vibrant Stadio Olimpico thought the Chelsea star would miss his third penalty kick in a row with the Azzurri.”

    Really? I think quite a lot of souls were expecting another miss. I certainly was.

    Jarod Knowles, yes the lack of a clinical finisher is one of the biggest problems with this group.

  4. who me

    hindsight is always 20/20 …yet not starting Berardi over Belotti first fail. Belotti prolly should of stayed on bench entire game, and Scamacca should of came in late.
    most of all is letting Jorginho take that pk. never again should he take pk for country. even if a match goes to pks, he should go 9th.
    you dont get any better gifts in calcio than a 90th minute pk…to win.
    they need to focus and only play most fit players.

    hopefully they can win 3-0

  5. Madhat

    Mancini made a mistake. Italy needed this win in a head to head match. Jorginho had missed two previous penalties. These misses were no doubt weighing on his mind so this was no time to see if he would snap out of his penalty slump. Just to big a game for that. Hopefully Bulgaria plays Switzerland tight.

  6. Jarod KNowles

    I doubt that italy will win 3-0 vs NI on Monday. Irish use celtic magic and it is a very hard type of jinx to remove, subtle and don’t feel any pains like voodoo etc, but it messes up ones luck. Sounds like quackery but missing empty nets 6 feet away is not normal, it is abnormal.

    Nevertheless I will root for italy on monday.

  7. tONINO

    Unfortunately we were asleep in the first 15 minutes of the game and really only woke up after Switzerland scored. To say that we didn’t create chances is a massive mistake, we did. We just didn’t score. The save from Sommer against Insigne who was beaten but somehow the ball hit his legs, is anybody’s guess. I agree, it will not be easy on Monday. We need to play fast using first touch football against the Iris. Move it around but fast not slow or predictable. We now must have good nerves in the game and not forgive. I have also noticed that the weather is going to be mild so no excuses whatsoever. The likelihood Switzerland will win by a good margin with Bulgaria. They already beaten them in Bulgaria so I cannot see how Bulgaria will stop them. That draw with Bulgaria and with Switzerland in Basilea has caused us problems but we are not out of it yet. My late mother used to say “If you think the others will win, you are already beaten” so lets go out there and win well as at the end of the day, “It’s not over until the Fat Lady Sings” (by the way this saying refers to Opera del Tenore”. I will always support my country regardless of what happens and I always think positive. Finally, Jorginho should not take penalties for a little while. I felt very sorry for him as he knew what this has now caused. Let’s not forget he was awesome at the Euros. Forza Italia

  8. Geedup

    Someone remind me why Jorginho deserves the Ballon D’Or? Let’s be real, rather than thinking of redeeming himself and being the hero to boost his chances at the Ballon D’Or, knowing what was at stake, he should have stepped aside and let Berardi take the penalty, if for any reason because he won it for the team and had successfully scored the last penalty for the Azzurri.

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