Italy’s 2022 World Cup squad… if they had qualified

We're facing a second straight World Cup without Italy being involved, despite the Azzurri reigning as European champions. Had they qualified, how would their squad look?

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While 32 international teams have announced their respective squads for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Italian fans can only wonder what their team would have looked like if Italy had qualified for the tournament.

The competition will commence on Sunday, November 20, but the Azzurri will not be there after failing to qualify for the second time in a row, and it is the first time that they have missed out on consecutive qualifications.

Italy coach Roberto Mancini announced his squad of 31 players on November 11 for upcoming friendlies against Albania and Austria, which consists of youngsters and players that are not regulars for their respective clubs. If the Azzurri did qualify for Qatar 2022, he would probably have selected the majority of players that led the Italians to glory at Euro 2020 to form a 26-man squad and not bring as many inexperienced players.

Giacomo Raspadori celebrates scoring a goal for Italy. (REUTERS/Alberto Lingria)

Who would be in Italy’s World Cup squad?

Mancini showed after Euro 2020 that he was going to remain loyal to the team that won the tournament regardless of any decline in form at club level.

In goal, faith in Gianluigi Donnarumma and Alex Meret would remain while Ivan Provedel would have been rewarded for his impressive form at Lazio. However, his teammates Alessio Romagnoli and Nicolo Casale did not get a look in for the friendlies against Albania and Austria.

In that case, Lazio defensive duo would not have made the World Cup squad then. Romagnoli has not played for Italy since 2019 while Casale has never been capped and has only recently displaced Patric from the Biancocelesti defence. Despite the disappointing form of Francesco Acerbi and Leonardo Bonucci at club level, both veterans would provide plenty of experience to the Azzurri team as a whole.

Injury would rule out Roma duo Leonardo Spinazzola and Lorenzo Pellegrini, but Mancini would still keep faith in Bryan Cristante. Although Juventus starlets Nicolo Fagioli and Fabio Miretti have been selected for the friendlies, the Italian coach would likely have selected older teammate Manuel Locatelli instead for Qatar 2022.

Up front, it would not be surprising for Mancini to take risks on Ciro Immobile and Federico Chiesa, who have recently returned from injury. The Lazio striker is one of the few experienced forwards the Azzurri coach can choose from while the Juventus winger can provide pace and unpredictability.

Other attackers like Mattia Zaccagni and Nicolo Zaniolo were forced out of the squad in previous international breaks for personal reasons but both players can provide additional x-factor.

Federico Dimarco and Giacomo Raspadori have impressed for Italy recently, and other players like Federico Gatti, Pasquale Mazzocchi, Wilfried Gnonto, and Simone Pafundi probably would not have been considered if the Italians qualified for the World Cup.

One also has to wonder if selecting Giorgio Chiellini, Lorenzo Insigne, and Federico Bernardeschi would have been considered despite playing in the MLS. Considering Mancini’s loyalty to the Euro 2020 squad, such selections would not seem farfetched despite drawing any potential outrage from the fans and media alike.

Why are Italy not at the World Cup?

Although the results were rather damning, Italy missing out on the World Cup for the fourth time in history is still surprising and disappointing in equal measure.

The European champions finished second in Group C behind Switzerland, and they were eventually eliminated by North Macedonia, losing 1-0 in a one-off game in the second round of qualifying.

A disaster of that proportion seemed inevitable. Italy’s form after the European Championship was in decline and they won just one of their five World Cup qualifiers, drawing the rest.

The two qualification matches against the Swiss proved to be decisive as both games ended in draws. However, the Azzurri could have won both matches and secured automatic qualification if the Brazilian-born playmaker Jorginho did not fail to convert penalties in each of those clashes against the Nati.

Italy’s 2022 World Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain), Alex Meret (Napoli), Ivan Provedel (Lazio).

Defenders: Francesco Acerbi (Inter), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Federico Dimarco (Inter), Emerson Palmieri (West Ham United), Giorgio Scalvini (Atalanta), Rafael Toloi (Atalanta).

Midfielders: Nicolo Barella (Inter), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Davide Frattesi (Sassuolo), Jorginho (Chelsea), Manuel Locatelli (Juventus), Matteo Pessina (Monza), Sandro Tonali (AC Milan). Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain).

Forwards: Federico Chiesa (Juventus), Matteo Politano (Napoli), Giacomo Raspadori (Napoli), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Gianluca Scamacca (West Ham United), Mattia Zaccagni (Lazio), Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma).

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