Normally a decisive appointment has a very clear and defined scenario, in this case we could think of Windsor Park Belfast, but there is no shortage of circumstances – andItaly one of these lives – in which the terrain of a battle is multiple, spread across multiple locations at the same time.
The Azzurri visit thenorthern Ireland and keep an ear on Lucerne’s Swissporarena, hoping to get a better result than the Swiss, committed against Bulgaria, or to maintain the advantage in goal difference (currently +2 for Italy compared to the Swiss). Mancini gives confidence from the first minute to Tonali, protagonist of a good moment of form, and leaves Locatelli out in the middle of the field. Forward no center forward e “light” trident with Berardi, Chiesa and Insigne, with the mission of scoring for a team that, in the course of qualifying for the World Cup, has shown that they have a solid defense at home.
Possession is in the hands of Italy, a lot of dribbling in the middle of the field and on the opponent’s trocar with the intention of finding the right opening to hurt. Men of Baraclough for their part they throw it on the body and slow down the pace when they have the ball. After the goal signed with Switzerland, for the final 1-1, Di Lorenzo appears enterprising and willing to push on the right, often served by Jorginho with precise openings. The blue insertions are dangerous, Barella is more comfortable than ever when served in space, but beyond a dirty shot by church and a personal action of Badge there are no great opportunities. An Italy that is missing in the decisive moment, in short, that of the last pass and the decisive play in the last meters: we go to the interval at 0-0. Same result also between Switzerland and Bulgaria, at the end of the first half.
In the second half a change immediately: inside Cristante and outside Tonali, booked. At the start of the second half Insigne allows himself a new individual cue, the Northern Irish defense leaves him room and the Napoli captain starts a right at the far post, wide. The biggest opportunity, however, is for Northern Ireland and Donnarumma is overcome, a good reflection on Saville from a short distance: Baraclough’s men push. Beyond the Northern Irish forcing, even extemporaneous, the real cold shower is emphasized: the Switzerland’s goal in Lucerne, Italy is now more obliged than ever to score and win. While Italy does not find space, the 2-0 Swiss: time passes, the need to score grows, Berardi serves Chiesa who, with his left foot, misses the door by a whisker. There is tension, there is the understandable anxiety of scoring but there are no opportunities if you exclude a shot from outside by Emerson at 80, but two goals are needed because Switzerland is at 3-0.
Nothing to do: the specter of the playoffs is materialized, to go directly to Qatar 2022 is Switzerland (capable of also doing the 4-0 in the final), Italy will know its fate on November 26 and access to the World Cup will be played in March.
Well-defined script already at the start, lots of blue possession and repeated dribbling with the desire to then go and find the man in space, both in the center and on the flanks, also thanks to long balls entrusted mostly to Jorginho’s foot. As soon as Northern Ireland tries to raise the pressure, Italy gives the impression of becoming more dangerous, finding space in which to enter, even without proving to be concrete and capable of creating clear opportunities.
If in the first half the Azzurri find space, the situation changes in the second half and Italy finds no way forward, against a well-placed defense and never in trouble: zero goals conceded at home so far are no coincidence. More offensive Azzurri in the final, outside Barella and inside Belotti: it is 4-2-3-1 with Berardi, Bernardeschi and Chiesa behind Belotti. However in vain moves, Italy fails to attack with continuity when two goals are needed to pass.