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Mancini calls for Italy calm ahead of Switzerland clash

Azzurri send home Pellegrini and Zaniolo

Italy coach Roberto Mancini.
Italy coach Roberto Mancini.
Image: Andreas Gebert

Turin - 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 yesterday.

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 Basel 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.

"Pobega deserves to be here and he has gone through all the various age grades and done well. He has great qualities, he is here because he has been doing well for some time," Mancini said.

"I do not know who to compare him to. He is a physical and technical player with a good left foot. He can dictate play but also be an attacking midfielder, he is young and intelligent."

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