“We are going to go to the World Cup and we may win it.” Roberto Mancini put his chest out after the draw against Northern Ireland, which left Italy out of the World Cup pending the dangerous play-offs in March. The memory of the sports apocalypse lived in 2017 is still very much alive, and apparently not even the joys of the Euro were enough to erase it. In fact, of the five games he played starting in September, the Azzurra only won one, against Lithuania, (5-0), adding four draws with just two goals scored. The two penalties missed by Jorginho against Switzerland cost the classification, but the problems of this Italy go beyond that. The team continues to have quality and identity, but it lacks like air a center forward to finish his plays. Immobile and Belotti never gained the total confidence of the technician, who yesterday preferred to start with Insigne with a false nine, leaving Torino on the bench next to Scamacca and Raspadori. The press, which always praised Mancini’s enormous work, was very tough this time. According ‘La Gazzetta dello Sport’, simply put, Italy “made a fool of itself in Northern Ireland”, where the match “ended 0-0, although the result could have been worse” because of an Italy “unrecognizable in its principles of play, in spirit and in almost all the protagonists”. The pink newspaper spoke of “nightmare” on its first page, where an interview with Arrigo Sacchi: “We are tired and somewhat conceited. Now, feet on the ground”.
‘Tuttosport’, on its cover, assured that “another Italy is needed” and that Mancini “must solve the problem of goals.” For the ‘Corriere dello Sport’, Italy is “hanging by a thread” and “he deserved to go to the repechage.” The hit by the Nazionale also made the front pages of the generalist press. ‘Il Mattino’, for instance, He spoke of “World Nightmare” and ‘Il Resto del Carlino’ described the situation with a blunt “what a disaster”.
The saddest thing is that the fear of reliving the nightmare of 2017 is quickly canceling the legendary nights of the European Championship lifted just four months ago. That is the great question of the journalist Alessandro Barbano: “We don’t know if it hurts more to see Switzerland classified or the suspicion that the Wembley triumph was accidental and disproportionate. The memory of the athletic gestures, of the numbers, of the choral effort that led us to the throne of Europe disappears. What remains is a very small Italy. “