The World Cup is still a long way from the European champion. Italy's very good 2021, with the title at Wembley and a 37-game undefeated that was a world record until it was cut by Spain, is not complete because the presence in Qatar is on hold. It will have to go through the demanding Repechage next March. An instance in which he will have to overcome two games against rivals that will be known in the draw on the 26th of this month.
Three groups of four teams of each will be assembled, with unique matches and eliminatory, semifinals and finals, from which the last three countries of the Old Continent will emerge. Italy will be seeded, will play the local semifinal, a stage in which they will not face Portugal, Russia or Scotland.
The bitter drink of the Azzurra was in Belfast, where it did not go from 0-0 against a Northern Ireland that did not play anything, but that had already shown its strength at home, where it did not receive goals in four games. This tie was taken advantage of by Switzerland, who beat Bulgaria 4-0 and qualified for a World Cup for the fifth consecutive time.
Italy is looking to a frustration that already suffered less than four years ago, when Gianluigi Buffon wept inconsolably at the microphones after eliminating Sweden in the Repechage. That was the goalkeeper's last game at the Nazionale, who would miss a World Cup for the first time in 60 years, since Sweden 58. Of that team led by veteran Giampiero Ventura remain Bonucci, Jorginho, Donnarumma (he was a substitute) and Immobile, the scorer absent this Monday due to injury.