“Hanging by a thread!” Italian newspapers are scathing in their assessment of Roberto Mancini’s side after Northern Ireland goalless draw leaves Euro 2020 winners in play-offs for a spot at next year’s World Cup in Qatar
Italian newspapers have been scathing in their criticism of the national team after Roberto Mancini’s side turned down an automatic qualifying spot for the 2022 World Cup and must instead qualify through the play-offs.
The Azzurri, who were crowned European champions four months ago at Wembley against England, were tied in a goalless draw in Northern Ireland on Monday evening, enabling Switzerland to take first place in Group C with a win over Bulgaria.
This followed a 1-1 draw against the Swiss in Rome on Friday – when Jorginho missed a late penalty to win the match – and the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport didn’t hold back, headlined: “What a nightmare (and it’s not over yet).”
Italy must qualify for the World Cup via the play-offs after Monday’s draw in Northern Ireland
La Gazzetta dello Sport (left) described the route as a ‘nightmare’, while Corriere dello Sport (right) now said the Azzurri’s chances were ‘hanging by a thread’
Tuttosport insisted ‘we need another Italy’ just four months after their Euro 2020 triumph
Mancini’s men will now have to make it through the March play-offs, along with players like Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, when 12 teams compete for just three places in Qatar.
Gazzetta also described the Belfast draw as ‘ugly’, also referring to the ‘ugly memories’ of missing out on a spot in the 2018 World Cup in the play-offs to Sweden.
Corriere dello Sport, meanwhile, insisted Italy’s hopes were ‘hanging by a thread’ after Monday’s disappointment, admitting the Azzurri didn’t even score many goals at Windsor Park.
It also mentioned that Sweden, Austria, Poland and Russia were among the other big rivals in the play-offs – Wales and Scotland will also be present in the March round of matches.
Finally, Tutto sport insisted that ‘we need another Italy’ just four months after their Euro 2020 triumph, stressing that there is a ‘target problem’ to be solved.
Mancini’s side must now qualify for Qatar via the do-or-die play-offs in March next year
Despite finishing second in the group, Mancini was optimistic in retrospect and believed his team would still qualify for next year’s showpiece in the Middle East.
“I am disappointed,” he said after Monday’s standoff in Belfast. “We made it difficult for ourselves and the qualification should have been sealed at least two games ago.
“We had the opportunities and we didn’t use them, now we have to keep our feet on the ground, because there is still a chance of qualifying for the World Cup.”