Italy must remain calm in their preparation for Friday’s crucial Fifa World Cup qualifier against Switzerland but they will be without injured pair Lorenzo Pellegrini and Nicolo Zaniolo for the match, Azzurri coach Roberto Mancini said on Monday.
The European champions are level with the Swiss on 14 points at the top of group C, but sit in first place on goal difference, ahead of their meeting at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.
The winners will therefore be in pole position to secure an automatic qualification spot for Qatar 2022 with one game left, and the two sides could not be split during a 0-0 draw in Basle in September.
The losers will likely have to settle for a playoff spot, a frightening prospect for Italy after their embarrassing playoff defeat by Sweden during 2018 World Cup qualifying.
“We must be calm in our preparation for this important game,” Mancini told a news conference.
“Games against Switzerland are always difficult and it will be on Friday too. If we play like we did in the first game, we can get a great result, but I believe we can do even better than that. It will be an important match, so you can’t prepare for it with tension.”
Mancini revealed that Pellegrini and Zaniolo have been sent home from camp with physical problems, while midfielder Nicolo Barella will be monitored after picking up a knock.
The Italy squad is largely made up of the same players who triumphed at Euro 2020 in July, but Torino midfielder Tommaso Pobega earned his first call-up.