‘Here we go again’ | Italy forced to World Cup play-offs: who is to blame?

Fans and pundits react to Italy’s 0-0 draw against Northern Ireland, which forces the Azzurri to qualify for the World Cup through the play-offs. But who is to blame? Join the debate on Football Italia’s liveblog.

Roberto Mancini’s side were held to a 0-0 draw in Belfast last night, while Switzerland beat Bulgaria 3-0, emerging as the Group C winners, booking their place for Qatar 2022.

Italy will have to go through the play-offs to qualify for next year’s World Cup. The play-offs will take place in March and have a new formula. There will be three groups of four teams each which play one semi-final and a Final. Only three countries qualify for the World Cup from the play-offs.

World Cup play-offs: how they work, when they take place and Italy’s possible opponents

There are six seeded teams, including Italy, Portugal and Sweden. There will be two seeded teams in each group and they can’t meet in the semis. Therefore, Cristiano Ronaldo or Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t face the Azzurri in the first game of the play-offs.

The old World Cup shadows are emerging for the Azzurri. Four years ago, Italy were eliminated at the hands of Sweden with Gian Piero Ventura in charge. The play-off formula was different and possibly more accessible than the current one.

Nobody has forgotten what happened at that time and Twitter is literally exploding with comments remembering the 2017 World Cup qualifying campaign and pinning the blame on Mancini or players.

Among them, there’s Jorginho, who missed two penalties in two games against the Swiss.

The victory at UEFA Euro 2020 seems far away now. Who do you think is the main responsible for Italy’s fiasco? Send us your thoughts on the liveblog.

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