Italy coach Roberto Mancini is already targeting World Cup glory in 2026, as the Azzurri prepare to "suffer" through this year's tournament after failing to qualify.

The European champions will be the most high-profile side to miss the tournament in Qatar after slipping to a humiliating play-off defeat to North Macedonia in March.

Italy were also absent from Russia in 2018 following a play-off loss to Sweden, meaning their exile from football's most storied competition will stretch to a minimum of 12 years.

The Azzurri also suffered group-stage exits in 2010 and 2014, meaning their most recent World Cup knockout tie remains 2006's final victory over France.

Mancini, however, is determined to end Italy's World Cup woes when the tournament heads to the United States, Mexico and Canada in four years' time, and believes their failure to reach Qatar was unjust. 

"Winning with the national team is the best thing there can be," he said at an event in Rome. 

"Giving Italians such joy is incredible, now we have to wait four years. We will aim to win the next World Cup in America.

"We are working, unfortunately we will suffer until December - the disappointment of not qualifying for the World Cup does not pass me. 

"It was totally unfair, but the defeats must be faced. We did not deserve to stay out of the World Cup, but unfortunately, that's how it went."

Asked why he chose to continue as Italy coach following their play-off embarrassment, the former Manchester City boss added: "Honestly, I don't know, at that moment I just wanted to turn the page because it went badly. 

"But winning the European Championship gives an incredible joy. Now we have to wait a few years and then we want to try for those emotions again."

Italy have since salvaged some pride by winning their Nations League group, finishing above Hungary, Germany and England to reach next year's finals.

And Mancini was keen to emphasise the difficulty of that achievement, adding: "It wasn't easy, the boys put everything in. 

"England are a danger to win the World Cup, they have an incredible squad and Hungary are a very physical team."

Italy will contest friendlies against Albania and Austria when elite club football pauses for the World Cup in November. 

Luke Shaw had no grievances about being dropped by Manchester United in August, even agreeing that Erik ten Hag needed to change something.

Shaw started United's first two Premier League games of the season, defeats to Brighton and Hove Albion and then Brentford.

The 4-0 loss to Brentford meant United finished a day bottom of the Premier League table for the first time in 30 years – 1992 was also the last time United had begun a league season with back-to-back defeats.

Shaw and Harry Maguire were the ones to pay the heaviest price. Neither has started any of the four league games since, all of which United won, while the left-back has not played a single minute in those games.

Despite a lack of action, both players featured for England during their two Nations League games in the past week and Shaw is hopeful of playing more regularly for United ahead of the World Cup, even if he accepts being dropped for Tyrell Malacia was not hugely surprising.

Asked by talkSPORT about playing more before Qatar 2022, Shaw said: "That's what everyone wants.

"I think Ten Hag, the boss, he knows my qualities, he knows what I'm capable of and we've had chats.

"It's understandable that – and I even agree – the start of the season wasn't good enough and he had to make changes. And I fully accept that, I accepted it.

"The only thing I can do is train hard and wait for my opportunities, whether that's in the cup games or the Premier League.

"Whatever I play in, I just have to be ready and play at the standard I should be at."

Shaw scored in England's 3-3 draw with Germany on Monday, a result that did little to ease the pressure on manager Gareth Southgate.

England's loss to Italy three days earlier confirmed their relegation from the top tier of the Nations League, but Shaw thinks the criticism of Southgate is unfair given what he has achieved in the job until now.

"You look at the results of the last two major tournaments and it's bizarre how people can attack him and say it's not good enough," Shaw added.

"At the moment we haven't won, we have to win a major tournament to be extremely successful, but we're heading in the right direction and he's guiding us in the right direction.

"From when he first came in, you've seen the difference in the England team to where we are now but of course the results recently haven't been good enough. We'll be ready in the World Cup."

England captain Harry Kane was "proud" of Harry Maguire for playing through injury towards the end of Monday's draw with Germany despite it being a nightmare match for the defender.

Centre-back Maguire has become a much-maligned figure at Manchester United, with his performances routinely called into question over the past 12 months or so.

That ultimately led to him being dropped by new manager Erik ten Hag in August after United lost their first two games of the new Premier League season – he has not started since in the top flight and the Red Devils have won four matches on the bounce.

England manager Gareth Southgate backed Maguire at the start of this international window, suggesting he would stake his reputation on the defender's selection before starting him in both Nations League games despite previous vows to pick players on form.

Serie A-winning Milan defender Fikayo Tomori was left out of the squad entirely on Monday while Maguire went on to endure a nightmare, with his individual errors contributing to England finding themselves 2-0 down.

England remarkably fought back to go 3-2 up with three goals in 12 minutes before Kai Havertz's second rescued a point for Germany, and while the focus was already on Maguire – who was later spotted limping through the mixed zone – Kane praised his character.

"Any individual mistake, you're going to be gutted. But we are a team, we will get behind each other," Kane said.

"They [Maguire and goalkeeper Nick Pope] will learn from [their errors] and they'll move on. They have been great for us every time they put the shirt on.

"H [Maguire] had a pretty decent injury there at the end, where he played another five, 10 minutes, on almost one leg.

"Great character from him [to keep playing], I'm really proud of him for that."

After the match, Maguire said sorry to supporters on Instagram following his errors.

The first was a poor pass out from the back that was intercepted by Jamal Musiala, whom he then clumsily fouled in the area. Ilkay Gundogan scored the penalty.

For the second goal, Maguire was robbed of possession – again, Musiala was his nemesis here – up the pitch and Germany sprung a rapid counter-attack that was rounded off by a gorgeous Havertz finish.

"Mistakes are part of the game, I apologise," Maguire wrote.

"Great fightback and spirit to get us back into the game by the lads. Take the positives and look forward to Qatar. The tough times will make us stronger."

Roberto Mancini was not entirely satisfied by Italy's Nations League win over Hungary, while Marco Rossi hailed Gianluigi Donnarumma as the "best goalkeeper in the world".

Goals from Giacomo Raspadori and Federico Dimarco saw the Azzurri leapfrog their hosts to top Group A3 and qualify for next year's finals, alongside Croatia and the Netherlands.

Yet the visitors were forced to weather a late onslaught from Hungary, kept in the game through Paris Saint-Germain keeper Donnarumma, who lived up to his reputation with a string of impressive saves.

That gradually eroded control over the match frustrated Mancini, who felt his side rested on their laurels too much across the closing stages of Monday's encounter.

"It was a difficult game," he told RAI Sport. "It was all perfect until the final 20 minutes.

"We really need to improve in our ability to control the game for 90 minutes, as we worked so hard to be 2-0 up, so suffering like that in the final 20 minutes just makes no sense.

"We should have kept pushing for a third goal. I lost my voice because I was shouting so much in the final 20 minutes."

Rossi, who played alongside Mancini in a brief stint with Sampdoria almost three decades ago and embraced warmly at full-time, was more philosophical on his side's defeat.

However, the Italian was fast to praise countryman Donnarumma, who after something of a mixed first year at PSG following his Euro 2020 heroics, looks back to his best this season.

"It would have been nice to perform a miracle tonight, but when you play against teams like Italy, you have to make zero mistakes and hope the other side get it wrong," Rossi said in his post-match press conference.

"Even when we did have the chances, we were kept out by the best goalkeeper in the world. It's no coincidence that PSG signed Donnarumma."

Rossi also hailed Hungary's supporters, praising their "great respect and civility" for their opponents in Budapest.

"I've been in football for many years," he added. "I've seen packed stadiums and fans on their feet, but never anything like the passion you can feel when Hungary play on home turf."

Goals from Giacomo Raspadori and Federico Dimarco steered Italy through to the Nations League finals at Hungary's expense, as the visitors claimed a 2-0 win in Budapest.

Heading into Monday's final fixture in Group A3, Hungary needed only a draw to complete a remarkable run through the competition to next year's four-team fight for the top prize.

But Roberto Mancini's European champions, still smarting from their failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, delivered a composed performance to break their opponents' hearts in a taut encounter.

Marco Rossi's side can nevertheless take pride in their achievements, following a campaign that saw them defeat England twice and Germany once to finish second in the end.

Amid raucous home support urging them on to make history, they had looked bullish from the off, with Dominik Szoboszlai offering an early threat for the hosts.

But Hungary were undone by their lacklustre awareness at the back, and when Wilfried Gnonto pressed Adam Nagy's soft back-pass off Peter Gulacsi, Raspadori was able to round the prone keeper for a simple finish.

Italy held a one-goal lead through to the interval, and it took just seven minutes for them to double it afterwards, with Dimarco getting across Loic Nego at the far post to crash Bryan Cristante's cross into the roof of the net.

Hungary pushed for a response late on, but none was forthcoming – and with the full-time whistle, it was the Azzurri who booked their spot alongside Croatia and the Netherlands for next year's finale.

Italy boss Roberto Mancini says he is "pleased" to see Hungary thriving under former team-mate Marco Rossi, as the pair face off for a winner-takes-all Nations League clash.

The two sides meet in their final match in Group A3 on Monday, with the Azzurri needing victory in order to leapfrog their hosts into next year's finals in Budapest.

In a group that also included 2014 World Cup winners Germany and Euro 2020 finalists England, Hungary had been written off as easy pickings for relegation from the A tier of the Nations League.

But wins over both nations has catapulted them to top spot, and Mancini said he is delighted to see former Sampdoria team-mate Rossi showcasing his skill, stating that he is under no illusion of the task at hand.

"Playing in Hungary is never easy, but I am pleased that they have done so well in the Nations League, especially as their coach is my former team-mate," he stated.

"I see it as 50-50, because they can also count on a draw to go through. The fact we are here challenging for first place with 90 minutes to go is already pleasing, so we'll give it our all."

Italy will be without Ciro Immobile for the trip despite the striker making the journey to the airport, only to be left behind when the squad flew to Hungary.

Reports that Lazio's president Claudio Loitio ordered him to remain behind owing to a slight thigh issue were not commented on by Mancini, though he admitted the forward was not worth the risk.

"We tried and Immobile did everything right in trying to stay with us, but this morning we decided it wasn’t worth the risk," he added.

"It was disappointing for him and for us. Ciro would happily have stayed, and he did during the first game, but it was too dangerous to risk it.

"He wasn't in awful shape, but hasn't trained with us for three days. We met up when arriving in Milan, but his absence had already been discussed."

Roma's Leonardo Spinazzola has revealed he chose to miss Italy's Nations League fixtures to conduct individual training this month, as he continues his recovery from a serious Achilles tendon injury.

Spinazzola enjoyed a breakthrough on the international stage during Italy's successful Euro 2020 campaign last year, impressing as an attacking left-back for Roberto Mancini's side.

However, he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon during the Azzurri's quarter-final win over Belgium in July 2021, returning to feature in just three Serie A matches before the end of last season.

The 29-year-old has appeared in all seven of the Giallorossi's league games this campaign, but revealed his previous injury continues to have an impact after opting to skip Italy's Nations League matches against England and Hungary.

"Not to go to Coverciano was my request to Roberto Mancini, the coach understood and allowed me these 10 days to get back in shape and do specific work for the calf," he told the club's media channels.

"I think mine is one of the worst injuries for a player, especially given my characteristics. I still lack some support and speed."

Roma are four points adrift of early Serie A pace-setters Napoli and Atalanta, but the arrival of Paulo Dybala and influence of coach Jose Mourinho have seen them tipped as potential title challengers.

Spinazzola spoke highly of the former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss, adding: "We are with him, whatever he says, we do. If he told us to go to war, we would do it. 

"That's right, he has this gift. Then everything he says, for the most part, comes true.

"But he is very calm in training. I don't know how he was in the past, but he's really calm. Sometimes he just observes from above. 

"He likes to observe how you move, how you move your body, your body language, he observes a lot of these things."

Roma were beaten by Atalanta in their last league outing, and will face a huge test of their Serie A credentials when they travel to another of Mourinho's former clubs Inter on October 1.

Roberto Mancini praised Italy's new generation following a 1-0 victory over England in the Nations League.

Giacomo Raspadori's strike at San Siro condemned the Three Lions to relegation to League B, while Italy will face off against Hungary on Monday to decide who will advance to the Nations League finals.

Having failed to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar, Mancini has looked to younger players for the future as the likes of 22-year-old Raspadori have made an impression for the European champions and hailed the displays of his young guns.

"We rebooted in June and were always in the running in this Nations League group. Clearly, we need these games, these wins, so we can grow," he said.

"I expected a good performance and knew it would be difficult, because many of tonight's lads are inexperienced at this level, with not even 30 per cent of England's caps, but I think we won deservedly."

Mancini was then asked why Italy are seemingly more effective when under pressure than in games where they are clear favourites but disagreed that this was the case.

"I don't think we threw anything away, football has an element of luck to it. We won the Euros on penalties, we deserved to win it, then failed to qualify for the World Cup after two games we dominated and did not win against Switzerland," he explained.

"We made mistakes too, that is obvious. I don't know if today was our best performance of the Nations League, we did well against Hungary and Germany too."

As for England, Mancini remains confident that Gareth Southgate's side can be contenders at the World Cup in Qatar and played down the significance of relegation from the Nations League.

"It's always satisfying to beat England, but especially after the difficult time we've had recently, it takes a little pressure off and that is important," he added.

"In my opinion, England are one of the best teams in the world and will have a good chance at the tournament. I don't think they will care too much about the relegation."

England manager Gareth Southgate insisted there were "a lot of positives" in the Three Lions' 1-0 defeat to Italy on Friday.

Giacomo Raspadori struck the only goal of the game to condemn England to equal their worst winless streak since 2014, and also resulted in relegation to League B of the Nations League.

It marked another game without a goal for England, who are now 495 minutes without scoring from open play, and have just 90 minutes of football against Germany on Monday before the World Cup.

However, despite receiving boos from the travelling supporters at San Siro, Southgate remains positive and suggested England were the better team.

"It's difficult for me to be too critical of the performance. We had more possession, more shots, more shots on target," he said.

"For large parts of the game we played very well. We didn't deal with the decisive moment defensively. We had moments where we had the chance to be decisive in their final third, [but] our quality wasn't quite right.

England midfielder Declan Rice has called for calm after defeat to Italy extended the Three Lions' winless streak to five games.

Giacomo Raspadori's strike at San Siro condemned Gareth Southgate's side to relegation to League B in the Nations League and marked England's longest run without a win in competitive matches since October 1992.

With just 90 minutes of football and 56 days until the World Cup campaign in Qatar begins against Iran, concern is rising, but Rice has promised there will be improvements.

"It's obviously disappointing. Every tournament we go into, we set out to win," he told Channel 4 after the loss.

"In the Nations League we have slipped below our standards, but I didn't think it was all bad tonight.

"It's coming. It was a much better performance tonight than we saw in the summer.

"It's not that we're not creating the chances. I see it in training. There are goals for fun. Trust me, we are going to be good."

England's drop in form has come alongside a barren run in front of goal, having gone 495 minutes without a goal in open play – the last being Raheem Sterling's strike in a friendly against the Ivory Coast in March.

Southgate's side face Germany at Wembley on Monday to bring an end to a disappointing Nations League campaign, before the countdown to the World Cup truly begins.

England suffered relegation to League B in the Nations League after a 1-0 defeat to Italy at San Siro, a result which also equalled their worst run of form in eight years.

Giacomo Raspadori curled home the only meaningful attempt of the game for the hosts, capitalising on sloppy defending from Kyle Walker, who provided too much space for the Napoli man.

Italy's win was only their third in 10 matches, though the performance did little to ease concerns around Roberto Mancini's side.

It is England who face more immediate problems, though, with just 90 minutes of football left before the World Cup begins, and Gareth Southgate's men looked far from ready here.

A lacklustre first half saw both sides crippled by an inability to create any sort of threat in the final third, with neither Nick Pope nor Gianluigi Donnarumma called into action as play was limited to scrappy exchanges in midfield.

The early exchanges of the second half did not change much but Italy took the lead with their first meaningful chance of note, Raspadori collecting Leonardo Bonucci's long pump forward and given time to turn, before curling into the far corner beyond Pope's reach.

England's introduction of Jack Grealish and Luke Shaw after conceding, which finally gave the Three Lions a natural left-sided defender having started Bukayo Saka out of position, did not change the pattern of the game.

Harry Kane saw two shots saved by Donnarumma, though neither was particularly threatening, with Italy looking the more likely to extend their lead as Federico Dimarco struck the frame of the goal.

Jude Bellingham headed a late chance over the bar deep into stoppage time as England's fate was sealed on the final whistle.

What does it mean? World Cup worries for England

The mid-season fall of the World Cup in Qatar means no pre-tournament friendlies for the teams competing, giving England just 90 minutes of football before the opening group game against Iran, who beat Uruguay 1-0 earlier on Friday in a friendly.

Now five games without a win and 495 minutes without a goal from open play, Southgate is under intense scrutiny and his team selection continues to baffle – Saka starting at left wing-back, far from his natural position on the right wing.

While a lack of goals will always be concerning, the inability to even create opportunities despite an array of attacking options is a problem without an easy fix.

Raspadori's return

Raspadori's winning strike against England was his fourth in an Italy shirt since making his debut in June 2021, level with Nicolo Barella and with no player within Roberto Mancini's squad having scored more.

Italy's absence from the World Cup remains a bitter pill to swallow but Raspadori is already showing he can be a key player in the defence of the European Championship title in 2024.

Southgate's sorrows compounded

England's woes against Italy in front of goal were not a new occasion, the Three Lions having failed to score from open play in five games in the Nations League, having only scored from the penalty spot – an unwanted record they share with minnows San Marino.

With just 56 days before the World Cup, Southgate received boos from the travelling contingent at San Siro and requires a massive upturn in form if England are to equal their exploits in last year's European Championship.

What's next?

England's Nations League campaign comes to a close against Germany at Wembley on Monday, where Italy will face Hungary to decide the group winner.

England suffered relegation to League B in the Nations League after a 1-0 defeat to Italy, a result which also equalled their worst run of form in eight years.

Giacomo Raspadori curled home the only meaningful attempt of the game for the hosts, capitalising on sloppy defending from Kyle Walker, who provided too much space for the Napoli man.

Italy's win was only their third in 10 matches and the performance did little to ease concerns around Roberto Mancini's side.

It is England who face more immediate problems, though, with just 90 minutes of football left before the World Cup begins, and Gareth Southgate's men looked far from ready here.

A lacklustre first half saw both sides crippled by an inability to create any sort of threat in the final third, with neither Nick Pope nor Gianluigi Donnarumma called into action as play was limited to scrappy exchanges in midfield.

The early exchanges of the second half did not change much but Italy took the lead with their first meaningful chance of note, Raspadori collecting Leonardo Bonucci's long pump forward and given time to turn, before curling into the far corner beyond Pope's reach.

England's introduction of Jack Grealish and Luke Shaw after conceding, which finally gave the Three Lions a natural left-sided defender having started Bukayo Saka out of position, did not change the pattern of the game.

Harry Kane saw two shots saved by Donnarumma, though neither was particularly threatening, with Italy looking the more likely to extend their lead as Federico Dimarco struck the frame of the goal.

Jude Bellingham headed a late chance over the bar deep into stoppage time as England's fate was sealed on the final whistle.

Ciro Immobile joined Italy's injury list ahead of Friday's Nations League encounter with England.

The Lazio striker has suffered a muscle injury and was not included in the Azzurri's squad list for the game at San Siro.

Midfielder Sandro Tonali left the European champions' training camp on the day of the match as he has not recovered from an injury.

Coach Roberto Mancini will also be without the likes of Marco Verratti, Matteo Politano, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Davide Calabria.

Italy will remain in contention for the Nations League Finals if they come out on top in a repeat of last year's Euro 2020 final.

England, bottom of Group 3, will be relegated from League A if they are beaten in Milan.

Gareth Southgate is ready to stake his reputation on the continued selection of Harry Maguire, insisting the out-of-favour Manchester United defender remains one of England's most important players. 

Maguire has been dropped to the bench for United's run of four consecutive Premier League victories, having started their back-to-back defeats to open the campaign last month. 

The defender has only started one of United's past five games in all competitions – a 1-0 Europa League loss to Real Sociedad – leading to criticism of Southgate's decision to call him up for England's remaining Nations League fixtures.

But speaking ahead of England's meeting with Italy at San Siro, which is followed by the visit of Germany on Monday, Southgate insisted Maguire remains central to his plans.

"Whatever reputation I have I'm putting it on there," Southgate said. "I think you always have to back your judgement, and we feel he is an important player.

"Clearly, it's not an ideal situation. You want your best players playing regularly so that they're physically in a good place and mentally in a good place. 

"But he is an important player for us. I think it's important to back our best players.

"I haven't felt the need to speak to him any differently to the rest of the players. Look, he understands that he's at a big club, big transfer fee and captain of the club so I think that's why the spotlight has been on him more. 

"But he's focused on training well every day and getting himself back in the [United] team."

While Southgate acknowledges a lack of alternatives contributed to his decision to stand by Maguire, he also highlighted the ball-playing ability of the defender and his partner John Stones.

"If we thought there were experienced players ready to step in and play at a level above, there would be a different consideration and in some positions there would be a different level of competition in that way," Southgate said. "He is our most dominant aerial centre-back.

"Him and John are incredible with the ball really – the amount of pressure they have taken for the team in tournaments we have played because we don't always have that midfield pivot player who can progress the game.

"It means there is a huge amount of pressure on our centre-backs to use the ball well and those two are as good as any in world football at doing that."

England have only lost two of their past 26 matches, both against Hungary in June's Nations League fixtures (W18 D6). 

However, the Three Lions are also winless in their past four games (D2 L2), their longest such run since June 2014 (five), and a defeat to Italy in Milan would condemn Southgate's side to relegation from the Nations League's top tier.

Gareth Southgate insists England "need commitment from everyone" ahead of their crucial Nations League Group A3 clash with Italy.

The Three Lions are on the brink of relegation from League A, having collected just two points from their opening four games, suffering a humbling 4-0 defeat to Hungary last time out.

England would drop into League B if they fail to win at San Siro, where Southgate says it will be a "great honour" for his squad to play as they look to build momentum ahead of the World Cup.

"This is a very important tournament, and we have already faced two very strong teams," he said. "We have already played against Italy, we know how formidable the players are.

"We need to improve after the latest results and in view of the World Cup, doing it here at San Siro - in an iconic stadium - will be a great honour.

"We analysed everything and tried to understand why there were these bad results after 22 games without a defeat. We need commitment from everyone, and we are focusing on this; we are making sure that the team can train in the best possible way."

Southgate, who revealed Jordan Henderson would be available to face the reigning European champions, also underlined his stance on the OneLove initiative.

Qatar has faced external criticism for its treatment of migrant workers, as well as its record on women's rights and treatment of LGBTQ people.

Human rights campaigner Amnesty International has called for migrant workers to be compensated for "suffering endured" in Qatar during preparations for the World Cup, calling for FIFA to support a 'remediation programme' and warning of the prospect of the tournament being "indelibly tainted by human rights abuses".

Southgate said: "I have observed and studied this situation closely. I have documented myself with experts who deal with this and the FA has also done a lot.

"Some demands have been made, there are already some hypotheses on the table and there is already an agreement with seven European nations to maintain this debate.

"I know that there is a need to talk about these issues, after all we hope for a change in that country even if everything is not under our control.

"We will not be able to do everything we want, there are limits, but talking is important. The criticisms are there, we must accept them, but we are doing our best."

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