Italy head coach Roberto Mancini still believes that the Azzurri are the favourites to win the World Cup next year despite their failure to make it to the World Cup directly from the group stage. Italy could only manage a draw against Northern Ireland whereas Switzerland won 4-0 against Bulgaria propelling to the top spot in the group.
Italy finished second in the group stage and will now proceed to the playoffs to make it to next year’s World Cup. These are the same playoffs where they got stuck in the last World Cup. So it will be interesting to see how things will work out for Mancini’s men.
The former Manchester City manager believes that Italy’s drop in current form should not affect their chances of winning the World Cup after they conquered Europe recently.
Mancini admitted that his team is short on goals and have struggled to break down teams that defend deep. “We can’t do anything about it now, we have this game in March and will try to give our best,” Mancini told RAI Sport, referring to the playoffs.
“At the moment, we are struggling to score goals, despite dominating possession and the initiative. Northern Ireland put everyone in defence and we struggle to break sides like that down.”
Things would have a lot different had Jorginho scored from the spot in their last match against Switzerland. That game ended in a draw allowing the Swiss to move forward, had the Chelsea midfielder scored that goal, the Azurri would have qualified then and there.
“It’s a pity, because we should’ve sealed the group long before it came to this. We just need to rediscover what characterised us up until today. We had two missed penalties in the decisive matches, so that shows we had the chances to win.”
“Now we prepare for March and we go into the play-offs confident. We’ll book our place in the World Cup in March and hopefully win the tournament too.”
Italy have not been the same since their Euros triumph. The free-flowing brand has remained the same under Mancini but the forwards have not managed to score enough goals for their liking. Now they will feature in the playoffs in late March to determine their spot in the World Cup next year. A total of 12 teams will fight it out in the playoffs and among them, only three will make it to the main event.