Video: Donnarumma error irritates PSG teammates

Gianluigi Donnarumma is under fire after a rare start in the Paris Saint-Germain goal, as his weak parry allowed St-Etienne to take the lead, prompting an angry response from teammates.

The Italy international is second choice to Keylor Navas, but was given the opportunity to wear the gloves this afternoon in their Ligue 1 match.

It didn’t go to plan, as Donnarumma’s weak save on the initial Kolodziejczak shot was only into the path of Denis Bouanga to score on the rebound.

Initially ruled offside, it was eventually given after a VAR review.

It did not go unnoticed that Donnarumma’s teammates reacted angrily to the error, adding to the tension within the PSG camp.

epa09488349 Paris Saint Germain's goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma warms up for the French Ligue 1 soccer match between PSG and Montpellier at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France, 25 September 2021. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

World Cup Qualifiers | H2H: Italy vs. North Macedonia

Italy host North Macedonia in Rome on March 24 for the semi-final of the World Cup 2022 play-off and the Azzurri have the upper hand statistically.

North Macedonia qualified for the play-offs with two big wins against Armenia and Iceland in the two games in November, when Italy failed to pick up more than two points in their games against Switzerland and Northern Ireland.

Italy are again unbeaten in the qualifiers under Roberto Mancini, who helped the Azzurri pick up a perfect record in the EURO 2020 qualifiers and then guided the Nazionale to the trophy over the summer.

North Macedonia lost twice in the group stage, but stunned Germany in the first leg with a 2-1 win away from home.

The reverse fixture against the Germans ended in a 4-0 defeat and the other loss arrived in the first fixture against Romania on March 25 2021.

North Macedonia were unseeded in the draw and have to travel to the Olimpico for the semi-final of the World Cup play-offs in March 2022, and the winner will take on either Turkey or Portugal in the Final.

The two sides played against each other in the World Cup Qualifiers in 2016-17, when Italy qualified for the play-offs but didn’t succeed to book a ticket to Russia 2018.

Spain finished first in Group G of the European World Cup Qualifiers in 2016-17, when North Macedonia ended fifth out of six teams in the table.

Since then, Macedonia have participated in the European Championship 2020 and have produced great results on the road to Qatar 2022.

The last match between the two sides at the Olimpico ended in a 1-1 draw on October 10, 2017, then Giorgio Chiellini scored Italy’s goal.

The first match between the two sides in the World Cup Qualifiers for Russia 2018, ended in a 3-2 win at the Tose Proeski Arena.

Andrea Belotti scored the opener, prior to Udinese attacker Ilija Nestorovski, who then played at Palermo, scored the equaliser.

North Macedonia turned the match around through Ferhan Hasani, before Lazio star Ciro Immobile turned won Italy the game with a brace towards the end.

H2H: Italy vs. North Macedonia

North Macedonia 2-3 Italy

October 9, 2016, at Tose Proeski Arena

Goals: Belotti 24 (I), Nestorovski 57 (NM), Hasani 59 (NM), Immobile 75, 90+1 (I)

North Macedonia (5-3-2): Bogatinov; Ristovski, Mosjov, Shikov, Ristevski, Zuta (Ibraimi 46); Hasani (Trajchevski 84), Spirovski, Alioski; Pandev, Nestorovski (Petrovikj 68)

Italy (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Romagnoli; Candreva, Bernardeschi (Sansone 64), Verratti, Bonaventura (Parolo 64), De Sciglio; Belotti (Eder 84), Immobile

Italy 1-1 North Macedonia

October 6, 2017, at the Stadio Olimpico

Goals: Chiellini 40 (I), Trajkovski 77 (NM)

Italy (3-4-3): Buffon; Barzagli (Rugani 46), Bonucci, Chiellini; Zappacosta, Parolo, Gagliardini (Cristante 75), Darmian; Verdi (Bernardeschi 64), Immobile, Insigne

North Macedonia (3-5-2): Dimitrievski; Ristovski, Musliu, Velkovski (Zajkov 75); Radeski, Spirovski, Hasani (Trajovski 64), Bardhi, Alioski; Pandev (Trichkovski 80), Nestorovski

Azzurri stars who could potentially miss the play-off Final

Several Italy players are on a yellow card when the Azzurri host North Macedonia in the 2022 World Cup play-offs and risk missing out on a possible Final against either Turkey or Portugal.

The Azzurri qualified for the play-offs in the World Cup Qualifiers with a second place behind Switzerland in the group stage and were seeded in the draw on Friday.

But despite the favourable position in the draw, Roberto Mancini’s men faced a tough route to Qatar 2022.

But several of the Italy players risk losing a players in the semi-final, as the Azzurri enter the play-offs with many of their stars one yellow card away from suspension.

Italy will face the winner in the match between Portugal and Turkey and play the Final away from home, in either Lisbon or Istanbul.

Italy players on a yellow card ahead of North Macedonia in the World Cup play-off:

Federico Chiesa (Juventus)
Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus)
Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)
Matteo Pessina (Atalanta)
Rafael Toloi (Atalanta)
Nicolò Barella (Inter)
Sandro Tonali (Milan)
Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma)
Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain)

Mancini on Italy’s play-off draw: ‘It could have been better’

Italy CT Roberto Mancini admitted it ‘could have been a better’ draw for the Azzurri, but stressed they are ‘confident and positive’ ahead of the World Cup 2022 play-offs in March.

The Azzurri are drawn North Macedonia at home in the semi-final of the play-off and will play the winner of Turkey or Portugal away in the Final.

Italy are thus facing a tough task to book a place at Qatar 2022, and Mancini admitted it was a difficult draw for the Nazionale.

World Cup Qualifiers | Play-off draw: Italy face North Macedonia and potentially Portugal

“It could have been a little better, that’s true,” Mancini told RAI2. “It’s clear that both us and Portugal have to beat Macedonia and Turkey.

“It’s one leg, which always provides difficulties. We are confident and positive, especially in the slightly more difficult moments.”

The first match is at home against North Macedonia and will be played in Rome.

“We had a great qualifying group. Even against Switzerland we deserved to win and yet we didn’t,” Mancini said. “We’ll have to play a great match, then we’ll see in the Final.”

Cristiano Ronaldo has played in nine consecutive Finals between the European Championships and the World Cups, but Italy must stop the superstar to get a chance to participate next year.

“We would have gladly avoided them and they would probably want to avoid us too,” Mancini continued. “We will play a possible Final against them.”

Joao Pedro has been linked with a possible call-up by the Italian national team, but Mancini didn’t want to reveal anything.

“It’s such a recent thing, we’ll see,” he said. “We have good players.

“Joao Pedro is an excellent striker, he knows Italian football. But let’s not forget what the lads did four months ago.”

‘Italy or Ronaldo’ | social media reactions to play-off draw

Mancini guided the Azzurri all the way in the European Championship over the summer and hopes to see the same performances in March.

“Those spells are only found in those moments there, when you are together for a while,” he said. “It will be important to have all the players available.”

Jorginho missed two decisive penalty against Switzerland and there has been a discussion about who should get the responsibility next time, but Mancini was coy when asked who will take the next penalty for the Azzurri.

“We hope they’ll give it to us.”

‘Italy or Ronaldo’ | social media reactions to play-off draw

Italy must overcome North Macedonia and the winner between Portugal and Turkey to book a place at Qatar 2022 next year. Join the discussion on the Liveblog.

The draw for the World Cup Qualifying play-off took place on Friday night and Italy are drawn in the third path.

World Cup Qualifiers | Play-off draw: Italy face North Macedonia and potentially Portugal

The Azzurri start with a home game against North Macedonia and will play the winner of the big game between Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal or Hakan Calhanoglu’s Turkey in the Final of the play-offs.

A tough road ahead for Italy CT Roberto Mancini and his men, who finished second in the group behind Switzerland.

The Azzurri were seeded in the draw but were drawn in a path with some of the strongest nations still fighting for a place in the next World Cup.

Italy, who won EURO 2020 after beating England on penalties in the Final at Wembley, will play away from home in a possible Final, either in Turkey or in Portugal.

epa09579558 (L-R) Italy's forward Domenico Berardi, Italy's forward Federico Chiesa and Italy's midfielder Bryan Cristante react next to Switzerland's defender Manuel Akanji after the 2022 FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C match between Italy and Switzerland at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy, 12 November 2021. EPA-EFE/JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT

World Cup Qualifiers | Play-off draw: Italy face North Macedonia and potentially Portugal

Italy are drawn against North Macedonia in the semi-final and could face Portugal in the Final of the World Cup Qualifying Play-off.

The Azzurri were in the pot of seeded teams in the World Cup Qualifiers Play-off draw, which took place in Zurich today.

After finishing second in Group C, behind Switzerland, Roberto Mancini’s men must book a place at Qatar 2022 through the play-offs scheduled for March, 2022.

Italy are seeded in the draw with Portugal, Swede, Wales, Russia and Scotland, whule Poland, Turkey, Austria, Ukraine, Czech Republic and North Macedonia were in the unseeded pot.

The 12 teams are divided into three groups of four teams, where two seeded teams face two unseeded teams respectively.

The winners of the semi-finals will play in a Final to determine the three remaining spots in the World Cup next year.

Christian Karembeu, Lothar Matthaus, Tiago Mendes and Pablo Zabaleta held the play-off draw, and picked the Azzurri for the fifth semi-final.

Italy are drawn against North Macedonia in the semi-finals and will meet the winner between Portugal and Turkey in the Final.

World Cup Qualifiers Play-off draw:

Group A:

Semi-final 1: Scotland vs. Ukraine

Semi-final 2: Wales vs. Austria

Group B:

Semi-final 3: Russia vs. Poland

Semi-final 4: Sweden vs. Czech Republic

Group C:

Semi-final 5: Italy vs. North Macedonia

Semi-final 6: Portugal vs. Turkey

Nations League

PSG lose Verratti for three weeks

Marco Verratti is reportedly going to be out of action for another three weeks after the Paris Saint-Germain and Italy midfielder sustained a muscular injury.

He had been expected to start last night’s Champions League clash with Manchester City, but spent the entire 2-1 defeat on the bench due to a muscular issue.

The 29-year-old had started the 3-1 win over Nantes on November 20, marking his return from a hip injury, while he missed the start of the season with a knee problem.

He sustained this most recent muscular injury during the training session on Tuesday.

According to the latest report from L’Equipe, Verratti has a lesion to the quadricep and will be out of action for circa three weeks.

Verratti has made only eight competitive appearances at club level so far this season, six in Ligue 1 and two in the Champions League, for 601 minutes of football.

He also missed both the recent World Cup qualifiers for Italy against Switzerland and Northern Ireland.

epa09494287 Paris Saint Germain's Marco Verratti (L) and Manchester City's Jack Grealish (C) in action during the UEFA Champions League group A soccer match between PSG and Manchester City at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France, 28 September 2021. EPA-EFE/YOAN VALAT