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Italian FA chief asks for Serie A reprieve before World Cup play-offs

The head of Italy’s football federation Gabriele Gravina said on Monday that he wants Serie A to give the national team more time to prepare for the 2022 World Cup play-offs.

Italy host North Macedonia in the semi-finals in Palermo on March 24 but the country’s top flight has a full round of fixtures scheduled just four days before that match, leaving Roberto Mancini little time to prepare.

Serie A’s top clubs could also have European fixtures a few days before that weekend’s round of league matches.

“We have to qualify and we’re in the condition to do so even if we’ve made things more difficult for ourselves,” Gravina told public broadcaster Rai Radio1.

“We hope that the league can give Mancini a few more days, we’re working on it.”

European champions Italy dropped into the play-offs on the final day of qualifying and risk missing out on a second straight World Cup after not making the 2018 tournament in Russia.

They missed out on a World Cup for the first time in six decades following a miserable aggregate play-off defeat to Sweden in late 2017 — one of Italian football’s most painful moments.

Should they beat North Macedonia the Azzurri will then face either Portugal or Turkey on March 29 for a place in Qatar.

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