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Roberto Mancini, technical commissioner of the men’s national football team, summoned 33 players for the qualifying playoffs for the World Cup in Qatar next winter. In fact, Italy will have to play the access to the final phase of the tournament in two matches this month: against North Macedonia in Palermo on Thursday 24 and, in the event of victory, on Tuesday 29 against the winner of Portugal-Turkey (in both cases will play away, in Lisbon or Konya).
Almost all the players who had won the European Championships in July were called, with the exception of Federico Chiesa (injured) and Federico Bernardeschi (little used in Juventus). To these were added the Roma players Nicolò Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini, who had been excluded from the European Championships due to physical problems, and the Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali. Mancini has also chosen to summon three full-time forwards, in addition to Immobile and Belotti: they are Gianluca Scamacca, Giacomo Raspadori (both of Sassuolo) and Joao Pedro of Cagliari, already called up for the January internship together with Luiz Felipe, the other rookie. Mario Balotelli, on the other hand, remained out of the convocations.
Goalkeepers Cragno (Cagliari), Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain), Gollini (Tottenham), Sirigu (Genoa)
Defenders Acerbi (Lazio), Bastoni (Inter), Biraghi (Fiorentina), Bonucci (Juventus), Chiellini (Juventus), Di Lorenzo (Naples), Palmieri (Lyon), Florenzi (Milan), Luiz Felipe (Lazio), Mancini (Rome )
Midfielders Barella (Inter), Cristante (Rome), Jorginho (Chelsea), Locatelli * (Juventus), Pellegrini (Rome), Pessina (Atalanta), Sensi (Sampdoria), Tonali (Milan), Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain)
Forwards Belotti (Turin), Berardi (Sassuolo), Immobile (Lazio), Insigne (Naples), Joao Pedro (Cagliari), Politano (Naples), Raspadori (Sassuolo), Scamacca (Sassuolo) Zaccagni (Lazio), Zaniolo (Rome)
* positive for coronavirus, will join at the end of isolation
Despite the victory of the second European championship 53 years after the first, Italy is more or less in the same situation as five years ago, when it lacked access to the World Cup in Russia. The format of these playoffs is more complicated: back then it was enough to lose against Sweden between home and away, now to qualify you will have to beat two different opponents in two straight matches, the second of a higher level than the first.
Italy ended up in this situation due to the drop in performance after the victory of the European Championships, also due to several absences due to injuries and some unfavorable episodes (such as the missed penalties by Jorginho in the qualifiers against Switzerland, between home and away) . In this way he lost the first place in his group, which would have guaranteed direct qualification.