Italy-Macedonia, Mancini at a press conference

World playoffs: the coach on the eve of the match against North Macedonia

From our correspondent Andrea Elephante

It will be nine very long days and obviously no one even wants to think that the last five are “useless”. Thursday Italy-Macedonia, the following Tuesday – if all goes as it should – the “in or out” against Portugal or Turkey: the road to the World Cup, suddenly paved with difficulties, offers at this stage the last crossroads . To remedy the mistakes made and go play the World Cup as rehabilitated European champions, or regret the (too) wasted opportunities. Those that would have allowed us not to find ourselves at this point.


But Roberto Mancini does not like to look over his shoulder: the future is what he was already beginning to glimpse when he was sitting on the national team bench. That is to say: his Italy at the World Cup. To try to win: “The best will be in November-December. Let’s spend this week of passion and then we’ll see what happens.” But nothing bad will happen, he says: “You only think of scenario B, the negative: I’m thinking of scenario A. And we hope it’s A. You have to be positive above all because we talk about football and above all because we can stick to solid bases. . We think that everything will be fine, with difficulties because they will not be easy matches, but hey. We shouldn’t have to be there, but football is also made of that.” And it’s also made up of bad thoughts, at times: those that the veterans of the previous world elimination, that of November 2017, could have had. “We are human, it can be: certain sensations can remain, we can think about it . But the sensations of July are much more recent, we have to start from those.


Solid bases therefore: “I am confident because I know that I have good players, professionals who have built a victory from scratch, that of the European Championship, in which no one believed. And it was a well-deserved victory. Confidence must start from there: it does not guarantee us going to the World Cup, but it cannot fail to be a solid basis for knowing that we have a team with important qualities. ” had conquered last summer: “We achieved certain results because we started from the base of the game. We will therefore have to try to play well, to play as we have always played, knowing that what has been done was not done by chance. The goal is to win the World Cup, you have to win two games: we will have to suffer, but there is no need for other speeches. »


And it wouldn’t even have helped to revolutionize the team: “I tried to call the most useful, knowing that we will have very little time to train and that there will be no place to try new things. We didn’t have the postponement of the last league game, but for now we can’t do anything, so we’re just focusing on what we have to do. is that of the European players, except Bernardeschi who is not doing very well: I have players that I know can trust.” The coach does not dwell too much on the exclusion of Balotelli: “There is no there are no great explanations behind that: Joao Pedro can also play second striker and attacking winger. And anyway I tried to choose between different types of attackers and Berardi and Scamacca are doing well. good for a while.” Motivation also tactical, therefore. While the other choices that Mancini will make between the first and the second game will be dictated mainly by the physical conditions: “There are five days between the first and the second game: they are enough to avoid thinking about bickering between one and the other. It’s easier to prepare than the match against Macedonia, which is already Thursday, and therefore will only be preceded by one real training session, that of tomorrow. That’s what you have to focus on: it will be a tough game, even if almost everyone gives it. for granted “.

Owls and owls

What is taken for granted, however, is only the warmth Palermo can give: “The cheering at this stadium has always been exciting and these are the two games that can take us to the World Cup. President Gravina has he talk about owls and owls? but I don’t see that as a big problem: we’re just focused on the game.” The doubts for the coach are first in defense, the department that could change the most between Macedonia and the decisive “final”: “Chiellini is doing quite well, the fact that he played yesterday is positive. He will not play probably not both, but we will evaluate together and we will decide: nobody knows better than him how he is and what he can give. If he tells me he can play two games in five days, I will let him play … Bonucci is doing pretty well, he will be evaluated for the second game. It is sure that we need a great defense like in the European Championship: maybe the department for the first game will be a bit new compared to the past, but we have enough experienced players for games like this”. And Donnarumma is experienced enough to forget the difficult psychological moment: “Gigio is always better to have him in the team than to have him against”. Barella and Insigne are expert enough to overcome some physical difficulties: “I’m not worried: they have always played well in the national team. Lorenzo may not be in the physical condition of the European Championship, but in these matches, you bring out something else: with quality you catch up with something else”.


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