On Sunday 20 November at 17, in Al Khor, the kick-off of the XXII Qatar 2022 World Cup will be beaten. For the first time in history, the World Cup will be played in autumn. And for the second consecutive time (editions 2018 and 2022) the Italian national team that failed to qualify will miss out. We talked about it with Francesco ‘Ciccio’ Graziani, bomber for Turin, Fiorentina and Roma, 1982 World Champion with Enzo Bearzot’s national team
On Sunday 20 November at 17, in Al Khor (about 35 km from the capital Doha), the kick-off of the XXII Qatar 2022 World Cup will be beaten. Thus, for the first time in history, the World Cup will not be played in the summer. As per tradition, the home team will make its debut: the current opponent is Ecuador. The inaugural match will be hosted by the Al Bayt stadium, one of 8 in this World Cup, with a capacity of 60,000 spectators, whose shape recalls that of Bedouin tents. 32 national teams compete against each other. Among these there will be Italy which, after the exclusion from the 2018 Russian World Cup, failed to comeback in the play-off with Sweden, failed to qualify even for Qatar 2022 having lost the playoff semi-final at home against North Macedonia.
“Unfortunately we are used to it. We have failed to qualify for two editions in a row. Now we just have to follow this World Cup from the sofa at home and with enormous regret”. For Francesco ‘Ciccio’ Graziani, bomber for Turin, Fiorentina and Rome, 1982 World Champion with Enzo Bearzot’s national team, “a World Cup without Italy is a contradiction, it doesn’t exist. But we will also metabolize this other negative stage for our football” he told SIR convinced that “Italy has all it takes to return to being a protagonist in world football”. In the meantime, as a profound connoisseur of football, he presents us with this Qatari World Cup 2022.
Ciccio, what is your prediction for the final victory?
Net of possible surprises, such as Croatia who managed to reach the final in 2018 against France and then lost 4 to 2, I believe that the teams accredited for the final victory are for Europe, France, Germany, Spain. I believe less in England. In South America there are, as per tradition, Argentina and Brazil. Here, I think that among these 5 teams the winner of Qatar 2022 will come out.
Who are you rooting for the most?
It will be Lionel Messi’s last World Cup. I can’t think that a great champion like him won’t be able to win a World Cup. Argentina starts with the idea of winning. Qatar is his last chance. I’m rooting for Argentina, for Messi, because I’d like him to end his career with a victory at the World Cup.
Who could be the surprise of this edition?
I’m thinking of two teams: Belgium and Uruguay.
Earlier you mentioned Croatia which reached the final with France in 2018. The Balkan teams in Qatar will be Serbia and Croatia: someone in the past has defined the Balkan players as ‘the Brazilians of Europe’, the quintessence of genius and recklessness…
Of the two, the better equipped remains Croatia. Serbia could play an important role but in the elimination rounds. I don’t think he has the technical strength to aspire to anything more important.
Among the African teams who can aspire to some results?
The African ones are always grumpy teams to face. In Qatar we will find Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon and others such as Tunisia and Morocco. But I don’t see any of them that can go very far in the competition, maybe even in the final.
The World Cup has always been a showcase for many young athletes. Do you have any names to report?
Portugal has some interesting young players, I am thinking of João Félix, the Atletico Madrid striker, I am also thinking of Vinicius of Brazil, who plays in the Spanish La Liga, for Real Madrid. With France there is the already established Kylian Mbappé, of Paris Saint-Germain. But as often happens in the World Cup, talents will emerge that we don’t know at the moment. This despite the fact that the world of football is globalized and through social networks it is possible to find young champions.
For the first time a World Cup is played in autumn and not in summer, at least for the Northern Hemisphere. In Europe, this has led to the suspension of the national championships which will resume in just under two months…
It will be an anomalous World Cup, at least for us Europeans. I would add that Qatar is a very small country, the stadiums are practically all close together. Some plants even have air conditioning. Playing in warm conditions could prove to be an advantage for European sides as they are used to playing in a cold climate these days.
What will this change mean in the preparation of the national teams?
There is no time to do ad hoc physical preparation. On 20 November he already takes to the field for the inaugural match Qatar-Ecuador. Players should be taken as they are, based on their work in their respective club squads.
Let’s talk about our Serie A which on 13 November saw the last games played before the stop for the World Cup. Which team impressed you the most in this start of the season?
If I say Napoli, I take it for granted, given the advantage they have acquired over the other teams. I believe that this year Napoli can really fulfill their dream of winning the Scudetto. I’ve seen Milan in a bit of trouble but they’re certainly recovering, Juve are getting competitive again, after this series of recent victories, if not for the Scudetto then certainly for the Champions League. Inter could also return. Lazio are doing well up to now. I think these are the teams that deserve a little more attention in terms of the top ranking.
You didn’t mention Rome…
Roma have slipped back in the last few games. The ranking has gotten worse.
Let’s go back to Qatar: in what spirit will you follow this World Cup?
With much bitterness. We would never want to relive another exclusion like that of these World Cups. To Mister Mancini I say: if 100% isn’t enough, let’s try to give 150%. We must not forget that Mancini and his boys gave us the 2020 European Championship. Here, the biggest regret is precisely this: the European champion national team fails to qualify for the World Cup, in a group that we all thought was ours. scope. My hope is that this in Qatar will be the last World Cup we will see from the sofa at home.
Qatar 2022. Ciccio Graziani: “I’m rooting for Messi”. Italy? “I hope it’s the last World Cup we’ll see from the sofa at home” | AgentSIR