Roberto Mancini confirms Marco Verratti is in doubt to face Switzerland in tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier and warns Italy fans not to get ‘trapped by memories’ of UEFA EURO 2020. ‘We must fight to win again.’
It kicks off on Sunday at St. Jakob-Park in Basel at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT).
The Azzurri lead the group with 10 points from four games, followed by Switzerland with six points after two rounds.
Italy made their return to the field after winning UEFA EURO 2020 with a disappointing 1-1 draw against Bulgaria in Florence on Thursday evening.
“Verratti had a knock to the knee, but we’ll evaluate tomorrow morning, because it hasn’t even been 48 hours since the game. We will evaluate everyone, as we need players who are ready,” said Mancini in his press conference.
“Marco is the one with the biggest issue, but he’s already feeling better today. There will be no complete transformations for the team. I think if we put in the same performance tomorrow as we did against Bulgaria, we’ve got a good chance of winning. The only thing missing was the victory.
“We know that we have to win, because we dropped points on Thursday. We’ve got what it takes to achieve that and if we play the way we know how, then tomorrow we can win. It’ll be difficult, because every match against Switzerland is difficult.”
Manuel Locatelli is the favourite to step in for Verratti, although Lorenzo Pellegrini is another alternative.
“Pellegrini is important for us because he can play more or less any role, further forward or inside midfield. He could play in Verratti’s place, but I think he’s a more attacking midfielder than that.”
Mancini urged Italy to move on from the triumph of Wembley and lifting the first European Championship trophy since 1968, beating Switzerland 3-0 in the group phase.
“You cannot be trapped by memories in football. July 11 was a wonderful night, but we can’t keep thinking about it now. Everyone will be remembered for that, but the future is different and we must fight to win again.”
Locatelli bagged a brace against Switzerland in that 3-0 victory at the Euros, including a spectacular strike combining with his then-Sassuolo teammate Domenico Berardi.
“We had tried out that passing move in training, it was not a fluke,” revealed Mancini.
“I liked that goal against Switzerland just as much as the one against England in the Final. If you need a counter-attack to score, then you can win like that too, not every goal has to be beautiful.”