Mancini Displays Confidence Ahead of North Macedonia Clash

Italy coach Roberto Mancini discussed the World Cup playoff against North Macedonia: “We have not had much time to prepare it. The guys needed to recover from recent matches and travels too. We just tried something new for half a day; therefore, we mostly decided to confirm the Euro group. They know each other well and are aware of what we need to do.”

There are nine players left from the team that lost to Sweden in 2017: “I do not know whether it could be an advantage. Triumphs and disappointments are part of being a sportsman. We just need to focus on our game plan. Italy knows how to play football.”

Mancini does not see clear favorites in the bracket featuring North Macedonia, Portugal, and Turkey: “We all start on equal footing, and anything could happen. Every match has a life of its own, even those that seem lopsided beforehand.”

“Jorginho converted seven penalties in a row after missing two with us. It will not be an issue. Palermo always supported us very warmly and will do it again tomorrow. The stadium will finally be packed, which is a big positive compared to the last couple of years. We hope to leave it in a good mood.”

Mancini is wary of the prowess of North Macedonia in the back: “We will need to be patient and not rush things, especially in the early going. They defend well but also have good technical skills. They were able to beat Germany. We need to play our game, as they will not give us much room. We did not change in the last eight months. You have more time ahead of a full competition, differently from qualifiers. Our style stayed the same.”