Italy must take on Northern Ireland without the anxiety that affected them in Friday’s 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw with Switzerland but can expect the hosts to make life difficult, manager Roberto Mancini said on Sunday.
Italy top Group C with 15 points from seven matches, ahead of the Swiss on goal difference, with the winners of the group set to go through to the finals in Qatar next year.
Mancini’s side visit Northern Ireland in their final match on Monday while the Swiss host fourth-placed Bulgaria.
“We were a little too anxious against Switzerland,” Mancini told reporters. “There’s going to be more pressure in Northern Ireland but it’s important we avoid the same level of anxiety.
“It won’t be easy because Northern Ireland allow very little on their own turf. We must play the ball quickly and keep it at our feet, something we’ve been doing for three years now.
“There have been some difficult moments during this journey, which we are not really used to. But the players must not forget everything we have achieved so far.”
Mancini suggested that AC Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali could feature prominently in the game with Inter Milan’s Nicolo Barella also in contention despite local media reports saying that he was not fully fit against Switzerland.
“Tonali has improved a great deal and could start. Barella has recovered, he is in better shape now than when he played against Switzerland,” Mancini said.