In or out. The Varzim Municipal Hall will be the theatre today (at 6 p.m.) Super Challenge of Group A of the Elite Round of the 2020 World Cup qualifiers between Italy and Portugal. Alessio Musti’s national team is called to the match with the hosts in a match that will decide the fate of our goal-holders ahead of the final phase.
The tricolour formation, after having sinned in terms of concreteness in the first match with Finland (ended 2-2), redeemed itself against Belarus, defeat ingering 5-3. A performance of great quality that of the tricolor team that, given the surprising draw between the Lusitanians and the Finns (2-2), lead the rankings with the same points as the Portuguese (4), but with a better goal difference, while the Nordic selection is with 2 points. The only certainty before the last round of group matches is that the Belarusians have given goodbye to their qualifying chances, having collected two defeats in as many matches. It is a challenge, however, to three for the world pass. It is worth remembering, in fact, that the first of the group qualifies directly to Lithuania 2020, while the second will face a play-off round (9-12 April, azzurri already certain to play the eventual home coming home match) against the second-placed group including Serbia (host), Spain, France and Ukraine.
In this context, Italy beating Portugal would have the certainty of being before the grouping, regardless of any feedback in the other match between Finland and Belarus, which they will play at 15.00 and therefore without knowing the feedback of the other match. This is because, if successful against Portugal, it is the direct clash. The Azzurri could enter the final stage with a 3-3 draw, should the Finns not prevail in the aforementioned challenge. In the case of 2-2, the goal difference smiles on us if the Finns do not go beyond the goal difference (any score), or no more than 5-3. In the latter case, a variable, now, in favour of the beautiful country is that of the admonitions: 6 for Finland and 1 for Italy. In the event of a “disciplinary reversal”, the condition would change and the “desired” feedback would be 4-2. Musti’s national team, on the other hand, will go to the playoffs if it does not go beyond 0-0 or 1-1 against Portugal and the Finns defeat the Belarusians by two goals, with a score from 6-4 up. The ko would also be admitted, but of course the Finns should not win.
Calculations, therefore, decidedly complicated that the selection of our own can avoid overcoming the difficult rock of Lusitanian, in a comparison that in the past was a quarter-final of the Thai World Cup in 2012 and the semi-final at the Euro 2014 in Antwerp, where the Azzurri were able to impose themselves in the final against Russia 3-1. Musti hopes to rethink the same approach he put in place against Belarus. It will take a lot of pragmatism to be able to win it against the reigning Champions of The Host and European Champion. The technical level of Ricardinho and his team-mates is very high, but the game against the Finns showed some quite obvious cracks in the defensive phase. It is no coincidence that the Nordics were one step away from the task, going 2-0 up until very close. Then Cardinal and Coelho (rigour) managed to avoid a resounding capitulation. Musti will be able to enjoy the return of Marcelinho, available after the disqualification round, a player capable of hurting any opposing defense. Even more than the single, however, it will be the collective that will make the difference. The CT knows this well and will prepare the match on this aspect.
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Photo: 5-a-side Football Division Press Release