Home Play by Mail Italian newspapers criticize Roberto Mancini’s side after Northern Ireland draw

Italian newspapers criticize Roberto Mancini’s side after Northern Ireland draw


“Hang on by a thread!”: Italian newspapers deliver SCATHING assessment of Roberto Mancini’s squad after goalless draw with Northern Ireland leaving Euro 2020 winners in Cup play-offs of the world

Italian newspapers were scathing in their criticism of their national team after Roberto Mancini’s side rejected an automatic qualifying spot for the 2022 World Cup and instead tried to advance through the play-offs.

The Azzurri, who were crowned European champions at Wembley against England just four months ago, were held in check Monday night by Northern Ireland, allowing Switzerland to take the first Group C place with a victory against Bulgaria.

This follows a 1-1 draw with the Swiss in Rome on Friday – when Jorginho missed a late-game penalty to win the game – and the Italian newspaper The Gazzetta dello Sport did not hold back, headlining: “What a nightmare (and it’s not over).”

Italy set to qualify for World Cup via play-offs after Monday’s draw in Northern Ireland

La Gazzetta dello Sport described the course as

Corriere dello Sport have now said Azzurri's chances are 'hanging by a thread'

Gazzetta dello Sport (left) described the route as a “nightmare” while Corriere dello Sport (right) now said the Azzurri’s chances were “hanging by a thread”

Tuttosport insisted that

Tuttosport insisted ‘we need a different Italy’ just four months after their Euro 2020 triumph

Mancini’s men will now have to go through the March play-offs, alongside Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, when 12 teams face off for just three places in Qatar.

Gazzetta also called the Belfast draw “ugly”, and also referred to “ugly memories” of missing a place at the 2018 World Cup in the play-offs against Sweden.

Corriere dello Sport, meanwhile, insisted Italy’s hopes ‘hanging by a thread’ after Monday’s disappointment, admitting the Azzurri didn’t even create many scoring opportunities at Windsor Park .

He also clarified that Sweden, Austria, Poland and Russia were among the other main rivals in the play-offs – Wales and Scotland will also be in the March round of matches.

Finally, Tuttosport insisted that “we need another Italy” just four months after their triumph at Euro 2020, stressing that there is a “problem of goals” that must be resolved.

Mancini's side must now qualify for Qatar via play-or-die play-offs in March next year

Mancini’s side must now qualify for Qatar via do-it-or-die play-offs in March next year

Despite coming in second in the group, Mancini was optimistic afterwards and believed his team would still qualify for next year’s showpiece in the Middle East.

“I am disappointed,” he said after the Belfast standoff on Monday. “We made our lives more difficult and qualifying should have been sealed at least two games ago.

“We had chances and didn’t take them, now we have to keep our feet on the ground because there is still the possibility of qualifying for the World Cup.”