Italy seeded: to avoid there is an opponent like Lewandowski’s Poland
Four years and a month later Italy returns to turn inside the urn that will define the road, the last one, towards a World Cup. Play-off was called in October 2017 when the hand of Fernando Hierro, former Real Madrid captain, handed us in or out with Sweden ended in national tragedy: we lost Russia 2018 and stained our history. Playoff is called today because to get the World 2022 pass, this time, the formula is different and more slippery: at the end of March there will be a semi-final without appeal and a possible final always in 90 ‘.
Italy arrives where it was not supposed to be European champions, but also with a path, after the night of Wembley on 11 July last, full of traps: we did not manage to beat Bulgaria in Florence and, thus, the two draws with Switzerland and the stalemate in Belfast condemned us to breathe, once again, an air that, unfortunately, we know well.
At five in the evening, a few minutes later, we will know our destiny: we are part of the six seeded, but to celebrate we will be able to cross a national team of our same group, because in each of the three groups of four there will be room for two teams belonging to the six best runners-up of the qualifying rounds.
The favorite game when the wait for the draw grows is always to imagine the most comfortable horizon and the possible climb. Coach Roberto Mancini would find a way not to lose sleep if, from Zurich, a scoreboard was drawn as follows: semi-final with North Macedonia and possible final with Scotland or Russia. The Macedonians greeted the Pandev totem after ten years of dedication to the cause and 122 games and even if they get Nestorovski back in March, crossing them would be a sweet response. Scotland and Russia could only create problems if it were played by them, otherwise there would be little room for bad thoughts. On the contrary, Italy would have a thousand reasons to worry if the ballot box behaves like this: Poland as possible, next, Ballon d’Or Lewandowski first obstacle and Portugal by Cristiano Ronaldo as a possible border between us and Qatar. Without forgetting the cumbersome, and disturbing, presence of Sweden due to the weight of our shame that it carries with it.
The Europe that did not go to Qatar and that will take us through the playoffs looks to Zurich. The urn will also decide where the matches will be played in one-off matches: the semifinal is scheduled at the home of the six seeded players, the final will be drawn already today. Rome, Turin or Palermo are our most accredited locations, with the coach Mancini greedy to play the possible two challenges at the Olimpico and more than a reasoning that pushes, in the case, to change the stadium and create, perhaps, some environmental problems for the opponents. (in Palermo, at the end of March, the temperature rises). The FIGC hopes in Fifa’s move to cancel the warnings given that we have nine of them, from Barella to Chiellini, from Insigne to Chiesa, not to mention Bernardeschi, Pessina, Toloi, Tonali and Pellegrini.
Mancini will not have the players until the evening of March 20, four or five days before the playoffs: the championship cannot move the day before the meeting. Instead, there will be an internship at the end of January with a test in Coverciano to be defined. If we go to the World Cup, Serie A will stop from 13 November next to Boxing Day as the Premier or until 6 January 2023 as La Liga: it will be discussed in the League from today. If we don’t go to Qatar, the championship will stop anyway. –