Milan LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Italian striker Lorenzo Inencini will face Italy on Saturday at San Siro to face Portugal in the third round of Group C's third round of the UEFA Champions League first round after 12 months of dramatic failure on the field. Same in booking his ticket to the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.
A year ago, on November 13, Italy received the home team at the San Siro in the second round of the European Cup qualifying match and lost the draw after losing 1-0 and losing the possibility to book the World Cup.
On the day, Insini did not participate in the game because of the intransigence of the coach Giorgio Ventura, who kept him on the bench, and therefore the brilliant striker did not have a direct role in the disastrous failure of his country.
Things have changed since the disaster and the 27-year-old has become a key element in the new team of Roberto Mancini for the Italian team, which is struggling to secure the semi-finals of the new competition: the European League.
He played in five of the seven games played by Mancini under the supervision of Mancini, beating Saudi Arabia and Poland and tripling three times.
"It's painful to think about it," Insini said of the disaster last year, "it hurts me to think that we could not qualify for the World Cup more than sit on the bench that night."
But despite his impressive record with Napoli (seven goals in 12 league games this season), Insini is struggling to provide the same level for the national team.
The match will be played on a stadium with a capacity of 70,000 spectators, the 30th international for Inencini, but has scored only four goals since his first game six years ago, and is still looking for the opening goal scored by Mancini.
"In the national team, we meet once a month, so it is very difficult (to offer the same level of the club)," he said.
"I think it's normal to give your club the best, in Naples we played together in the last three years, even if we changed the coach," he said, referring to the technical management of Carlo Ancelotti of his successor Maurizio Sari.
His seven goals so far this season are thanks to the coach Ancelotti, who soon made him more a striker.
"It's my best season since I started playing in Naples," he said. "Ancelotti and Mancini have a similar style and think the same way, that's why I feel comfortable here, I hope to give the national team what I do with Napoli".
Italy is second in the group with four points in three games, two points behind the leaders of Portugal, who have played less.
The Portugal coach Fernando Santos seems to be the closest to taking the group's ticket to the semi-finals because, if they lose today, they still have to face Tuesday's match against Poland.
The leaders of each of the four groups of the first level qualify for the finals between 5 and 9 June. The four teams are locked in the semi-finals and the two winners qualify for a final, while the losers meet in a third-place match.
Portugal started the tournament with a 1-0 victory over Italy on 10 September, before beating Poland 3-2 in the second on October 11, enough to equalize the day to secure their card , while Italy must win and wait for Service from Poland to win Portugal or draw with them (in this last case Italy must win tomorrow with two goals to excel in direct clashes over Portugal).
Portugal is blocked in the absence of Juventus captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who was on the edge of the World Cup final.
"The first place in the group is difficult but not impossible," Insini said. "We have developed a lot in the last two games, but we have to be smarter ahead of the goal."
Mancini scored his first win in an official match last month when he beat Poland 1-0 on 14 October. The first four victories in the world after beating Albania 1-0 in the World Cup qualifiers on October 9, 2017, Italy also presented Poland with its best performance for a long time.
"We lost in Portugal when we played a very young team, but now we have the chance to beat them at San Siro and then we'll see what happens in the Portugal-Poland match," said Mancini.
"I want to see a special team of attack for the San Siro fans who fill the stadium every time Italy plays."
Mancini continued to exclude the attacker "pirate" Mario Balotelli who seems to be paying the price of his suffering this season with his French team of Nice. After being called up for the September games against Poland and Portugal, where he played only in the first game and played a disappointing performance, Mancini fired from the October match against Ukraine in a friendly match against Poland in the continental competition.
Manchetti has defined three new faces, including the central midfielder Stefano Sensi, 23, Brescia in second place, Sandro Tunali, 18, and the striker of Hoffenheim Vincenzo Grevo, 25.
Juventus Juergento defender Giorgio Cielini, who has the chance to play his 100th international match in one of the two games against Portugal today or the United States, is also friendly in Belgium with Genk on Tuesday.