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2022 World Cup: How Italy Under Roberto Mancini. from Euro 2020 winners to the brink of disaster

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At the stroke of midnight, Cinderella Italy became a modest girl again and lost the status of the strongest national team in Europe.

The crisis in Italy is evident and there are no excuses for the mistakes made in their quest to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Qatar. Trekking with Switzerland, domestically and against Northern Ireland is a mortal sin that cannot be justified.

Slowly and melancholy, Leonardo Bonucci summed up the shortcomings of a team that conquered Europe just a few months ago by beating England at Wembley – becoming the number one team in what was a sacred time for Italian football.

Italy has turned from Euro 2020 winner ‘Cinderella’ to a team in crisis after failing to automatically qualify for the World Cup

The Azzurri have lost their status as the best team in Europe after the mortal sin of not beating Switzerland and Northern Ireland

The Azzurri have lost their status as the best team in Europe after the mortal sin of not beating Switzerland and Northern Ireland

Coach Roberto Mancini has the formidable task of sorting out the play-offs in March, the team’s last chance to reach Qatar and reach a World Cup that will be of utmost importance to the Azzurri.

Missing two consecutive World Cups would be an unprecedented failure in Italy’s history spanning more than 100 years and Mancini would go down as the protagonist of this disaster.

At the moment, Italy is divided between those who are concerned about a crisis in the international team and those who have great confidence in Mancini and his squad.

MANCINI IS A MAGIC BUT HAS LOST HIS WAND

In Italy there is a saying: ‘Don’t shoot the pianist, he does his best’. This expression fits Mancini’s situation. The coach has been heavily criticized by supporters but is backed by the Italian Football Association because it is very clear that the blame lies with the team and not with him.

If Jorginho had scored the decisive penalty against Switzerland, Mancini would have received all the credit, but after missing that dot on the post, Mancini has become the main culprit for Italy’s disastrous path towards Qatar.

It’s possible that Italy was lucky enough to win Euro 2020 while hiding tactical and technical issues that were never revealed. We will have a better idea about this theory in March after the playoffs.

Boss Roberto Mancini has been criticized for doing wonders with Italy but looks like he has outdone with a team lacking top quality players

Boss Roberto Mancini has been criticized for doing wonders with Italy but looks like he has outdone with a team lacking top quality players

Four years ago, Mancini performed a miracle by changing the mindset of Italian football and giving the team freedom of attack. Now this miracle is over and his wand is gone.

Italy seemed to have revived, but it only highlights Mancini’s great skill in motivating a team without great individual qualities.

History teaches us that there are winning cycles, but perhaps Mancini’s cycle has already reached its limit. It seems that many top players have failed miserably to make history.

Mancini’s position after the 0-0 draw against Northern Ireland was clear. He explained: “I’ve told my boys there’s nothing we can do right now. Let’s focus on the match in March, we will prepare well. We’re going to the World Cup and maybe we’ll win it.’

Italy's aura is gone, it could even be argued that they were lucky to win Euro 2020

Italy’s aura is gone, it could even be argued that they were lucky to win Euro 2020

JORGINHO AND INSIGNE ARE THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS

Jorginho and Insignia are the biggest disappointment after the result in Belfast. Both players have gone from Euro 2020 heroes to failures following Northern Ireland’s sensational dismay.

Roberto Mancini decided to replace the pair to give the team a shock and strengthen a group that froze against the physical Irish. Donnarumma seemed very distracted, the attack was non-existent and only Federico Chiesa made a real sprint attempt during the 90 minutes.

Italy were clueless against Northern Ireland, with no attacking threat, with no signs of danger to goalkeeper Peacock-Farrell. Their aura of summer has gone and the team is now struggling both mentally and technically. Fans have to accept what they see on the pitch and can only hope for a brighter future after a poor performance.

Jorginho has become a huge disappointment for Italy and is not consistent enough

Jorginho has become a huge disappointment for Italy and is not consistent enough

Jorginho is an inconsistent playmaker who struggles to grab the match by the scruff of the neck. If he doesn’t play his best game, the team loses confidence – no one else has the Chelsea midfielder’s technique.

Insigne, meanwhile, lacks personality and doesn’t seem to be the same player since the European Championship. His miss against Switzerland seems to have affected him mentally. His number 10 shirt should give him a lift, not knock him down. When he plays for the international team, he’s like Bambi. We only see his best qualities when he plays for Napoli and he fails to take the opportunities Mancini gives him to step down for Italy.

He always seems far away from the action. If Insigne is not in the center of the game, the team lacks imagination and if he fails to create magic on the pitch, Italy’s game plan fails and the team struggles to create chances.

Lorenzo Insigne is always too far from the action and the team loses imagination as a result

Lorenzo Insigne is always too far from the action and the team loses imagination as a result

ITALI’S BLACK HOLE ATTACKED

Italy’s biggest problem is the attack. Italy has not had a top striker for too long who can carry the team and fight for every ball.

Portugal has Cristiano Ronaldo, England has Harry Kane, France has Karim Benzema and Poland has Robert Lewandoski. They are all important teams with minor tactical and technical problems, solved with the strength of a great striker who provides a steady supply of goals.

Italy has a black hole of attack that all their attackers of the past decade have slipped into. Since Christian Vieri, Italy has sorely missed a real number 9 to lead the front line. Luca Toni may have been one of Italy’s worst players at the 2006 World Cup, but Italy managed to win it thanks to Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero. This year, Ciro Immobile won Euro 2020, but played the worst tournament of his career.

Federico Chiesa gave his best against Northern Ireland, but it's clear the Azzurri don't have a world-class striker who regularly scores goals

Federico Chiesa gave his best against Northern Ireland, but it’s clear the Azzurri don’t have a world-class striker who regularly scores goals

Italy has discovered the importance of having a top scorer. The absence of a world-class striker is the biggest flaw of this team, which is lacking in quality.

Mancini has been forced to bring in Giacomo Raspadori, Moise Kean and Andrea Belotti, strikers who either play for smaller clubs or struggle to impress at a big club.

Lorenzo Lucca is the young Pisa striker who is attracting attention in the transfer market, but he is still too young to be called up to the national team. Claudio Chiellini – brother of Italian captain Giorgio – who is sporting director at Pisa has predicted great things for the 21-year-old, but at the moment he is only a hope for the future, not a solution for the present.

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