Italy lose other midfielders to Switzerland

Florence, Italy (AFP) – Italy coach Roberto Mancini lost two other midfielders to injuries ahead of the World Cup qualifier against Switzerland on Friday.

Mancini, who had already had to sack star Marco Verratti due to injury, confirmed on Monday that Niccol Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini had withdrawn from the team and would return to their club, Roma.

Pellegrini has a knee ailment, while Zaniolo has discomfort in his left calf. Both were sidelined from the team that won the European Championship in July due to injuries.

Mancini recalled Matteo Pessina and Danilo Cataldi to replace them.

Bisini was a champion at Euro 2020, but was short-lived from injury and was a substitute in Atalanta’s 2-1 win over Cagliari at the weekend.

Cataldi, 27, has never played for the national team. The Lazio midfielder was called up once five years ago.

Inter Milan midfielder Nicolo Parilla would be fit to play for the Azzurri, although he had to be substituted in the derby against Milan on Sunday due to a blow.

Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, Juventus’ historic defenders, could also play after missing the Serie A duel against Fiorentina at the weekend.

Italy and Switzerland top Group C with 14 points. The first of the group will qualify directly for Qatar 2022, while the second will have to play a playoff.

Bulgaria comes in third with eight units, followed by Northern Ireland (five) and Lithuania (three units).

Italy will host Switzerland in Rome and will visit Northern Ireland in Belfast on November 15.

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Mancini’s team beat Switzerland 3-0 in the group stage of Euro 2020 and drew 0-0 in Basel last September in the World Cup qualifiers in Europe.

“It’s an important match and you shouldn’t be overwhelmed while preparing,” Mancini said.

Italy broke the world record in 37 consecutive matches without losing 2-1 to Spain in the Nations League semi-finals last month.

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