Italy misses out the world cup again after losing to North Macedonia while Gareth Bale helped Wales keep their world cup dream alive in this week’s world cup UEFA playoff.
Gli Azzurri’s international campaign under Roberto Mancini has been a roller coaster. They went unbeaten in the qualifiers but failed to seal one ticket as they only finished second. Last year, Giorgio Chiellini and co even clinched their second EURO after beating the favorite and the host England in London. However, right now Mancini’s men have to stay at home while watching their fellow world cup winners and giant teams playing in Qatar at the end of the year after slumping to a 1-0 defeat at the playoff semifinal against the underdog North Macedonia at their own home turf!
Italy had been knocking on their opponent’s door throughout the game with 32 shots on goal. Yet, none succeeded. Domenico Berarrdi, Ciro Immobile, Giacomo Raspadori or even the debutante Joao Pedro had their chances but could not find the back of the net. What was worse, Gli Azzurri even conceded through Aleksander Trajkovski’s late goal. It was a devastating night in Palermo. Nevertheless, the former Manchester City boss still gains support from Italian football federation, FIGC to keep his post.
North Macedonia, on the other hand, is ready to crave their pathway to Qatar in confidence by taking on Portugal in the final next week. Cristiano Ronaldo and Co crushed Turkey 3-1 at home. Fernando Santos apparently employed 4-1-3-2 formation, which has been used by Celta Vigo under Edouard Coudet and it thrived here despite the absence of the skipper’s goal. Otavio opened the scoring followed by Diogo Jota’s header. Turkey managed to score a lifeline through Burak Yilmaz. The veteran Lille man even had a opportunity to net an equaliser through a penalty but missed it. Matheus Nunes eventually buried the last goal of the game on 93rd minute.
Meanwhile, in path B, Gareth Bale might look finished in Santiago Bernabeu but he is definitely still on fire when it comes to playing for his country. The Real Madrid winger bagged a brace to help Wales thump Austria 2-1. Marcel Sabitzer’s goal turned out to be none but a consolation goal. Unfortunately, they will have to wait till June to see who their next opposition will be between Scotland or Ukraine. The match is postponed due to the ongoing Russian invasion.
Last but not least, in path A, Poland will have to face off Sweden again, the team which defeated them in the last round of EURO 2020 group stage which cost their chance to advance to the round of 16. Blagut had to wait till extra time to net a winning goal against Czech Rep at the semifinal. The former Mainz forward Robin Quaison came off the bench to send Sweden into the summit next week.