The Italian national team and Juventus will have to do without Federico Chiesa for the next seven to ten months. The 24-year-old attacker ruptured his cruciate ligament during his club’s 4-3 away success at AS Roma in the Italian Serie A on Sunday. A few hours later, Chiesa was examined by specialist Prof. Marc Martens in the Belgian city of Antwerp.
A man for decisive goals
Chiesa represents anything but a personified goal-scoring machine. That description clearly suited more to his father Enrico. The other side of the coin is that he scores decisive goals. In the national team, the 24-year-old has netted four times in thirty-eight games so far. The first of these arrived in 2019 in a 9-1 against Armenia. On that occasion, Chiesa also contributed with three assists.
The attacking player, who is on loan from Fiorentina to arch-rivals Juventus since October 2020, then scored three times for the Azzurri last year. At EURO 2020, he gave the Azzurri the lead in the round of sixteen against Austria after a goalless regular time. Then in the semi-final against Spain, he made the 1-0 in the 60th minute. Thus, he played a key role in the team’s success in the EURO 2020.
The European champions must fight for their World Cup participation
Less than two months later, the euphoria had already faded. Although Chiesa scored the 1-0 goal in the 16th minute, the Azzurri had to accept a 1-1 home draw against Bulgaria in the World Cup qualifiers. Roberto Mancini’s team remained unbeaten, but in their next four games they only managed a win against points suppliers Lithuania. With two draws against eventual winners Switzerland and one in Northern Ireland, Italy squandered their direct ticket to the tournament in Qatar.
The competition in the emirate is scheduled from 21 November to 18 December. That means the kick-off will be in almost exactly ten months and for Chiesa, it’s a race against time. And only in March will we find out whether the Italian national team will celebrate its comeback at a World Cup.
Italy’s play-off opponents are Northern Macedonia, Portugal, and Turkey
In November 2017, Sweden threw a spanner in the play-offs for the finals in Russia in the summer of 2018. Now the European champions will face North Macedonia in a semi-final at home. Afterwards, the winner of this duel will compete away against the one in the clash between Portugal and Turkey. Like the Azzurri, the Portuguese national team lost its direct ticket in the last phase. That happened with a 0-0 in Ireland and a 1-2 in the showdown against Serbia.
The mood is wholly different for Northern Macedonia and Turkey. Italy’s semi-final opponents remained pointless at EURO 2020, but they represent a high-flyer. And Turkey made it into the play-offs at the last minute after signing the former head coach of the German U21 national team, Stefan Kuntz.
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