Italy missed the World Cup four years ago after losing to Sweden in the play-offs. After the 0-0 visit to Switzerland on Sunday evening, it cannot be ruled out that the European champion will be active again in the jump-offs next spring.
The Italian media is slowly becoming concerned, after a 1-1 draw against Bulgaria earlier this week . The Swiss have fewer loss points: two for four. “We have a goal problem,” La Gazzetta dello Sport wrote . “Ciro Immobile and Domenico Berardi fell through the ice and Jorginho missed a penalty.”
A small consolation was that Italy remained without a loss for the 36th game in a row, a world record. “We set records, but you also have to win. The route to the World Cup has now become more difficult,” reports Tuttosport . “Switzerland has four points less, but two games credit.”
The Corriere dello Sport is not happy either. “The road to Qatar is uphill. Italy was very ineffective.”
Coach Roberto Mancini saw it all from the side, shaking his head. “We have to be much more clinical in the final round, I’m not even talking about the penalty,” the selector pointed out in conversation with RAI Sport. “The same problem arose against Bulgaria. We haven’t won twice in a row now because we didn’t score from one of our many opportunities.”
Italy will play this World Cup qualifying campaign against Lithuania (Wednesday), Switzerland (November 12) and Northern Ireland (November 15); the Nations League final round awaits in October. “Do I think the duel with Switzerland will be decisive? Yes,” said Mancini.
According to Giorgio Chiellini, it should eventually work out. “We played very strong, probably better than in the European Championship match against Switzerland, which we won 3-0. All that was missing was a goal. But this was again the team you saw in the final stages of the European Championship at Wembley.”