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Italy vs Northern Ireland World Cup Qual LIVE Football Score 11 Nov 2021

Italy vs Northern Ireland World Cup Qual LIVE Football Score 11 Nov 2021

Match Info

Start date: 16 Nov 2021 00:45
Referee: Istvan Kovacs, Romania
Avg. cards:

0.31

5.47

About the match

Italy’s chance to banish their demons from failing to qualify for Russia 2018 comes down to the wire on Monday night, as they visit Northern Ireland in a decisive World Cup Qualifying game.

While the European champions could assure progress to next year’s finals with a win, their hosts will be playing only for pride and the opportunity to finish third in Group C

When spot-kick maestro Jorginho blazed his late penalty attempt well over the bar at Stadio Olimpico on Friday night, Italian fans were entitled to fear the worst, as memories of the nation’s dismal failure to reach the World Cup four years ago still linger among the Azzurri faithful.

The Chelsea midfielder – and current UEFA Player of the Year – may have spurned the opportunity to effectively seal qualification for Qatar 2022 by missing from 12 yards against Switzerland, but Italy managed to see out an entertaining encounter; taking a deserved point from a 1-1 home draw.

Following Silvan Widmer’s bullet-like finish to open the scoring for the Swiss, a header by right-back Giovanni Di Lorenzo pulled Roberto Mancini’s side level before the break, but several more chances came and went without tilting the balance either way. Therefore, Italy hold a superior goal difference to their Alpine rivals at the top of the table, as they seek to avoid a playoff and book a direct ticket to the Middle East.

A pre-Mancini squad were beaten over two legs by Sweden last time La Nazionale featured in the playoffs, after they had made little impression at either the 2010 or 2014 finals having qualified.

While the Azzurri now travel to Northern Ireland, second-placed Switzerland will play at home against Bulgaria, so Mancini and company must secure victory in Belfast without being significantly outscored by the Swiss, who they have drawn with twice.

Since winning the Euros in the summer, the Italians’ results have been mixed, as their record unbeaten run was ended in the Nations League semi-finals by Spain – though they then beat Belgium 2-1 to secure third place – and they were also held by Bulgaria in Florence.

Nonetheless, scoring 13 times and conceding just twice in the qualification process to date indicates the challenge their opponents will face at Windsor Park on Monday. Remaining calm and collected, Mancini has assured his public that Italy will overcome their World Cup syndrome and secure a return to the finals after eight years away, but a tense 90 minutes awaits.

Turning a dominant display into three points against lowly Lithuania on Friday will have boosted Northern Ireland’s fragile morale ahead of their second successive home fixture, as they prepare to host the Group C leaders and champions of the continent.

Ian Baraclough’s men moved back up into third in the table with that victory – a first at Windsor Park since 2019 – in a game which they should have won more comfortably than the final 1-0 scoreline suggests.

Only their second win in seven qualifying matches – their only other success also came against Lithuania in September – the Green and White Army’s hopes of making the World Cup finals for the first time since 1986 have long since ended.

However, having lost both of their qualifiers in October – suffering a 2-0 defeat in Switzerland before being beaten by Bulgaria – Northern Ireland can at least achieve the consolation of a third-place finish in a group which, as expected, has developed into a two-horse race.

Baraclough has a record of only four wins from 19 games since taking charge, and has so far failed to produce contenders from the limited resources at his disposal, as his side endure familiar difficulties in front of goal – scoring just six times on the road to Qatar.

Breaching their illustrious visitors’ back four on Monday may therefore prove too tough a task for Northern Ireland, who were dispatched 2-0 by Italy in March’s reverse fixture.

Italy may be European champions due to their strength in midfield and at the back, but they have struggled to find the right recipe up front – a task made more difficult for Roberto Mancini by the absence of Ciro Immobile from his squad through injury, and goal-shy Andrea Belotti’s continuing recovery from a spell on the sidelines earlier this season.

Roma pair Nicolo Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini previously pulled out of this month’s camp, while influential midfielder Marco Verratti is also absent through injury.

Sassuolo’s once-capped Gian Marco Ferrari has joined La Nazionale for the trip to Belfast as defensive cover – with captain Giorgio Chiellini recently ruled out due to a thigh problem – but either Francesco Acerbi or Gianluca Mancini should join stand-in skipper Leonardo Bonucci at the heart of the visitors’ back four.

While Belotti is expected to lead the line again, despite struggling for match fitness, Federico Bernardeschi could instead operate as a ‘false nine’, or starting one of the Sassuolo strikers Gianluca Scamacca and Giacomo Raspadori would represent a wildcard option.

The home side, by contrast, have fewer absences to contend with, so Ali McCann and Josh Magennis – both of whom had a potential goal ruled out while impressing against Lithuania – should start again, as part of a 3-5-2 formation. The three-man rearguard will be helmed by Jonny Evans, who won his 92nd cap last time out.

Jamal Lewis is available again this month after serving a suspension for his bizarre sending-off versus Switzerland, and the Newcastle United man could challenge Shane Ferguson for his place on the left flank.

Seventeen-year-old Dale Taylor came off the bench to make his senior international debut on Friday, and the Nottingham Forest forward – who has yet to make his club debut – may feature again in the second half.

 

 

 

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