Win and hope. That is, not being masters of your own destiny. In football, and in sport in general, this is the condition that an athlete or a team never hopes to have to live.
The one in which the physical energies they must be profuse to do one’s duty and those mental instead, they must be used on a double track, that is their own commitment and not be discouraged by any bad news coming from the “other field”.
Northern Ireland-Italy: goleda wanted to chase away fear
So this is precisely the most evident “damage” of Jorginho’s wrong penalty against Swiss (indeed, the wrong penalties also thinking about the first leg), and in general from the opaque proof that theItaly offered at the Olimpico.
Because if beating the Swiss would not have allowed the sparkling wine to be uncorked and the ticket for the World Cup to be removed, at least the approach to the Belfast against thenorthern Ireland, the last round of the group, would have been much softer, given that even for Italy, lagging behind the European post, taking home a point from Windsor Park it would certainly not have been an undertaking.
Now, however, almost everything is different. In George Best’s land, Italy must win, imagining that Switzerland will do the same at home against Bulgaria. On the contrary, he must do it by scoring a lot to avoid mockery, something that the Azzurri do not do very well, except in rare cases.
What Italy must do to go to the World Cup
The draw in Rome, among other things, has complicated the path towards Qatar 2022 also in an … explanatory sense, given that to complete the classic formula “Italy qualifies if” something very similar to a periphrasis is needed. The starting point and the little that divides Italy and Switzerland, paired at the top of the standings with 15 points before the last act, is contained in four consecutive numbers: 9, 10, 11 and 12, to be read in alternating pairs.
That is: the goal difference and the number of goals scored, first discriminating in case of arrival on equal points, see the European champions ahead, respectively at +11 and 12 goals scored, against the Swiss +9 with 11 goals scored. It is not a lot, but not a little, because Italy will be able to afford to win with one goal less compared to Switzerland: with an Italian 1-0 and a Swiss 2-0, Mancini will go directly to the World Cup.
But be careful not to overdo it, because if these two parameters were in parity it would go to the number of goals scored away in direct matches and after the 0-0 in Bern and the 1-1 in Rome in that case, Switzerland would go ahead.
Trying to summarize, the Azzurri will be safe from surprises only in the event of a draw and simultaneous X sign in Lucerne. If not impossible, very difficult. As well as imagining that the two queens lose: even in that case, but it would be a horror film, we should look at the goal difference.
Italy’s opponent: the numbers of Northern Ireland
But what opponent will Italy face? Northern Ireland is, from a football point of view, one of the last outposts of old-fashioned British football. Not really long ball and pedaling, but a lot physicality and revisable technical values. Nothing impossible to overcome, therefore, were it not that the green-and-whites have strengths and weaknesses that are the opposite of the needs of Italy, struggling in attack and shining in defense.
Just seven goals conceded in the group and none of these at home, where Switzerland scored 0-0 (missing a penalty). Add to that the negative tradition of Italy, which in Belfast drew twice and lost once, in 1958, knockout cost the qualification for the World Cup, and the nightmare is served.
Northern Ireland-Italy: the probable formations
Compared to the match in Rome, Roberto Mancini will not revolutionize the team, also because the rain of unavailable players has discreetly distorted the squad. There will be two novelties, the most obvious considering the contribution given by the substitutes against Switzerland: inside Domenico Berardi e Sandro Tonali in place of Andrea Belotti and Manuel Locatelli.
The surprise is precisely this, given that many would have expected the exclusion of Nicolò Barella, bruised and in shadow on Friday. Instead the coach does not want to give up the battle spirit of the Inter player, while Gianluca Scamacca’s inches are kept running in the event of an undesirable assault.
Northern Ireland (3-5-2): Peacock-Farrell; McNair, J. Evans, Cathcart; Dallas, McCann, Davis, Saville, Lewiss; Magennis, Washington. Ct.: I. Baraclough.
Italy (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Acerbi, Emerson; Barella, Jorginho, Tonali; Berardi, Insigne, Church. Coach: R. Mancini.
Northern Ireland-Italy: where to see it
The match between Northern Ireland and Italy will be visible live and exclusively on Rai channels. Kick-off at 20.45 with pre-match from 20.30 on Rai Uno.
The race will also be visible in live streaming on the Rai Play platform, which can be used on PCs, smartphones and tablets.