Qatar 2022 WC: Balotelli dropped while Felipe, Pedro included in Italy squad for World Cup play-offs
Luiz Felipe and Joao Pedro have been included in Italy's squad for the March international break, as Roberto Mancini names his 33-man party for the Azzurri's crucial Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
This will be the last chance for Italy to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. First, they'll be up against North Macedonia at 20:45 CET on Thursday at the Stadio Renzo Barbera in Palermo. Should they progress, they'll face either Portugal or Turkey in the final (either in Porto or Konya).
For these crucial play-offs, head Coach Roberto Mancini has called up 33 players, who will arrive at the Coverciano Federal Technical Centre once their respective league fixtures this weekend are over.
Mario Balotelli who earned a recall to the national team in January, having not played for them since 2018, has been omitted from Italy's squad for the March international break.
Following their involvement in the team's training camp at the end of January, Lazio defender Luiz Felipe and Cagliari striker Joao Pedro have officially received their first call-ups. Meanwhile, Mattia Zaccagni has been named in the Italy squad for a second time (after his call-up in November 2020).
Matteo Politano, who last played for the Azzurri in their friendly against San Marino before the Euros, is also making a return, as are Stefano Sensi and Pierluigi Gollini, who have been absent since September 2021. Manuel Locatelli, who has tested positive for COVID-19, will join up with the squad once his period in isolation is over.
After training sessions on Monday and Tuesday, the National Team will travel to Palermo on Wednesday. In the afternoon, they'll put the finishing touches to their preparations at the Stadio Barbera. The next day, after the game, they'll return to Coverciano. Should they make it through to the final, the Azzurri will head to either Porto or Konya on the eve of the match (March 28).
Italy's Squad list: Goalkeepers: Alessio Cragno (Cagliari), Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint Germain), Pierluigi Gollini (Tottenham), Salvatore Sirigu (Genoa);
Defenders: Francesco Acerbi (Lazio), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter), Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Emerson Palmieri (Lione), Alessandro Florenzi (Milan), Luiz Felipe (Lazio), Gianluca Mancini (Roma);
Midfielders: Nicolo Barella (Inter), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Jorginho (Chelsea), Manuel Locatelli (Juventus), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Matteo Pessina (Atalanta), Stefano Sensi (Sampdoria), Sandro Tonali (Milan), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint Germain);
Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Joao Pedro (Cagliari), Matteo Politano (Napoli), Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo), Gianluca Scamacca (Sassuolo) Mattia Zaccagni (Lazio) and Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma).