Positive at lunchtime and negative before dinner. Stephan El Shaarawy, protagonist of his first blue double against Moldova last Wednesday in Florence, is the involuntary hero of a neurotic and schizophrenic day, which starts badly and luckily ends well.
Roberto Mancini’s Italy also has to deal with the virus and it happens in the city symbol of the emergency. The smile disappears from the coach’s face at lunchtime when, in the hotel that hosts the Nazionale, a stone’s throw from Orio al Serio airport, the outcome of the seventh swab arrives in eight days. El Shaarawy is infected “but with a low viral load and we hope it is a false positive,” says Professor Ferretti, head of the national team’s medical staff, full of hope. The attacker also undergoes the serological test, which fortunately is as negative as the last swab, the eighth of the series, the outcome of which arrives after 21 and not in time for training. Another ordeal.
From 6 pm the field work sled to 8 pm and the Azzurri, not having the last response to the molecular test, are forced to carry it out respecting the distance. “El Shaarawy is fine,” adds Ferretti. Simply a false positive, so much so that today, if he wanted to, Mancini could add him to the list of 23 for tonight’s match against the Netherlands.
Difficult to prepare a game after an afternoon of such great turmoil. The coach tends to play down: «It wasn’t a crazy day. We just had to move the training… »he says but nobody believes him. The blues have the opportunity to extend and mortgage qualification for the Nations League Finals. “This tournament can help us get to the European Championship well, but we also want to try to win the group.” A month ago we annihilated the Netherlands at the Cruyff Arena with a beautiful and substantial game, decided by a goal from Barella. In the meantime, the orange have changed coach, passing into the hands by Frank De Boer, who returns to Italy where he took over from Mancini in the summer of 2016: «I have a lot of respect for Roberto, who has coached great clubs and achieved important results. I’m not here to seek revenge, I wanted to stay in Milan for many years but it didn’t work and now I’m only thinking about Holland. We will certainly not leave the initiative for 60-70 minutes to our rivals as we did in Amsterdam », the severe criticism of his predecessor Lodeweges.
Mancio will choose the formation only today after many reflections also on the psychological condition of the group. «For sure Chiellini and Immobile will play and then I’ll make another four or five changes». In the trident the Church on the right will be confirmed (HERE the report cards of Poland-Italy), while on the other lane Lorenzo Pellegrini and Kean are in a runoff.
Tonight we play in Bergamo and for Bergamo, the manifest city of resistance to the virus. Among the thousands of privileged people present at the stadium, the 243 mayors of the province and of the Bergamo municipalities, as well as a large representation of doctors and nurses. In the north curve, which will remain empty, a tricolor stands out while this morning at 12 an Italian and a Dutch delegation will visit the monumental cemetery.