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World Cup play-offs

Roberto Mancini is confident that he will succeed in winning a World Cup ticket with Italy. The national coach will start the play-offs with his team on Thursday and must first defeat North Macedonia.

In Italy, many thoughts go back to November 2017, when ‘La Squadra Azzurra’ was also sentenced to the play-offs and surprisingly did not make it in a diptych with Sweden. 

However, Mancini is not concerned that Italy can miss two World Cups in a row.

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“We have to focus on the here and now. We are playing good football at the moment, that’s all we have to worry about,” said the 57-year-old national coach of the European champions during his press moment on Wednesday evening.

“Highs and lows are part of the life of a top athlete. We could wish that we would only win.”

Italy does not want to think back to the 2017 debacle at the start of the World Cup play-offs

Italy does not want to think back to the 2017 debacle at the start of the World Cup play-offs

Mancini relies on European Championship selection

Mancini is disappointed with a tight preparation for the play-offs. “We were only able to train tactically for half a day. That is why I have largely selected the same players with whom we became European champions.

They know each other and know what needs to be done,” said the Italian.

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Although Italy is a strong favorite against North Macedonia as European champion, Mancini does not want to know anything about a favorite role. 

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The experienced national coach emphasizes that the opponent should not be underestimated.

“We all start from scratch and in these kinds of games there is no favourite, even if it sometimes seems like it on paper,” he said. “North Macedonia defends very well.

And don’t forget that they won from Germany in the World Cup qualifier.”

If Italy beats North Macedonia, Portugal may be waiting for a ticket to the World Cup. 

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One of the two top countries has to miss the tournament at the end of this year in Qatar.

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