“We need to rediscover what has set us apart until now,” Mancini said, “and remain completely calm until March.”

Italy is facing another detour to get to a World Cup final, AP reports.

The playoffs beckon for the Azzurri — just like four years ago — after stumbling to 0-0 at Northern Ireland on Monday, plunging the recently crowned European champion to a second-place finish behind Switzerland in their qualifying group.

Switzerland leapfrogged Italy with a 4-0 win over Bulgaria.

Italy’s soccer-mad fans might be starting to fear the worst. After all, their country also failed to secure automatic qualification for the 2018 World Cup and wound up losing to Sweden in a two-leg playoff, one of the darkest moments in Italy’s soccer history.

This time, the Italians will need to get through two one-leg matchups to advance in a newly devised playoff system. The draw takes place on Nov. 26 and Italy will be at home for its first match because it will be a seeded team.

Read more

© Copyright LaPresse