Mancini: ‘World Cup play-offs wouldn’t be shame for Italy’

Roberto Mancini

Roberto Mancini insists Italy ‘can’t wait to play’ against Northern Ireland this evening, but if they do have to enter the World Cup play-offs, it won’t be ‘shameful’ for the Nazionale.

It kicks off at 19.45 GMT at Windsor Park in Belfast.

The Azzurri are joint top of their World Cup qualifying group with Switzerland, leading on goal difference at +11 to +9.

“We can’t wait to play, as it feels like time is dragging on and we want the game to get here quickly,” Mancini told RAI Sport this afternoon.

“Northern Ireland are a tough side to break down on home turf, they allow very little, defend very well and are a very physical side.”

Considering that Italy set a new all-time world unbeaten record at 37 international games and won UEFA EURO 2020, did Mancini expect them to struggle so much in this World Cup qualifying campaign?

“I always thought that Switzerland would make life difficult for us, from the moment we had the draw. It should already have been over now, because over the two games with Switzerland we fully deserved to get at least one win, but this is football.

“We need to show our strength even during the difficult moments and know that we still have it in our hands to qualify.”

Would it be shameful for Italy to go into the play-offs for World Cup qualification, especially after missing out on the 2018 tournament?

“No. The important thing is to reach the World Cup, it doesn’t matter how we get there.”

Ciro Immobile is out injured, with Andrea Belotti likely to be left on the bench in favour of Lorenzo Insigne in a False 9 role against Northern Ireland this evening.

“Some things might change, but the lads do their best and give their all for the team, so it doesn’t matter who plays, it’s about the mentality we have as a unit.

“I hope this is an evening we will conclude feeling very happy on the flight back to Italy.”

7 Comments on “Mancini: ‘World Cup play-offs wouldn’t be shame for Italy’”

  1. wouldnt be a shame ??? more like a sham.

    id say it would be a huge opportunity missed to auto qualify, considering they had 2 pk gift calls ( one in the 90th minute) to win all 3 points EACH TIME AGAINST THEYRE CLOSET RIVAL and missed them both… really ?

    but im still confident they can beat N.I. 2/3 – 0

  2. Sound is very pessimist from Mancini!

    Yeah it’s wouldn’t be shame for play-offs, but if they failed again then what?

    Now or Never!

  3. Do you people even read the damn articles or just read the title and run for the comments?

    He was asked that question, and answered no.

    Classic journalistic tactic, and clearly it worked

  4. I’ve always thought Mancini was a mediocre manager. Look what he did with Inter and City — nothing! He’s now showing what he’s all about. At least he’ll be fired immediately after they are officially out in March. How can you defend draws against Bulgaria at home and against Northern Ireland (when you’re playing for your World Cup life?? Disgraceful and embarrassing.

  5. If Jorginho didn’t miss his two penalties vs Switzerland we would have been through, but then there would be no urgency in having to fix the problem, the glaring elephant in the room, and that is when teams bunker we can’t open them up. Now we have to reinvent ourselves again because there aren’t a lot of team that are going to play an open style against us. The writing is on the wall fella’s, put 10 men behind the ball against Italy. Time to come up with an alternate plan.

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