Roberto Mancini suggested Italy ‘complicated things for themselves’ ahead of their 2022 World Cup play-offs.
The Azzurri must beat North Macedonia followed by the winner of Portugal-Turkey in order to book their place at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, following their second place finish in the qualifying group behind Switzerland. The Euro 2020 infamously missed out on the last World Cup in Russia so now many fans are anxious the same heartbreak could occur again.
Speaking at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence during the presentation of the Stadio Artemio Franchi renovations unveil, Mancini first discussed the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“The situation is dramatic, sport usually unites and does not divide, it can help, but the moment is very difficult, especially for the Ukrainian people. We’ll try to do something for them too.
“I think also in Russia most people are against the war and what is happening. When you think about it, you think it’s not true, it’s difficult for everyone.”
The Azzurri coach then gave his thoughts on the upcoming renovations to the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
“In Florence there’s a stadium that is part of history, but it can be renovated and used as an example for other cities in Italy.
“Fiorentina will be the first to benefit from this, the warm public of Florence being so close can only bring positive things.”
Finally, Mancini discussed the upcoming World Cup play-offs and the difficulties that the Azzurri face.
“We have complicated things for ourselves, we know that we have the quality to reach the World Cup. The first match will be perhaps even more difficult. We’ll play in Palermo, with the fans close by, and I think it will go well.
“I trust the guys, I’m optimistic but I know there will be ten hard and difficult days. We would have liked to have got this far without them. I’m evaluating the players, at this time of the season it’s important to be in good shape. They won’t be 100% and that has to be considered.”
Italy will not have star winger Federico Chiesa or long-term injured Leonardo Spinazzola for their upcoming play-offs, frustrating for Mancini as both players proved key during the team’s successful run in Euro 2020 last summer.
— Sportface (@sportface2016) March 7, 2022