North Macedonia has shocked the world already by knocking out the reigning Euro 2020 champion Italy. They want to destroy Cristiano Ronaldo‘s probably last world cup in Qatar next winter. The Balkan nation president has sent a warning to football’s all-time top scorer about a threat over Twitter posts. Now, Macedonia is eyeing to bag another glorious victory to seal a spot in the next football world cup.
Portugal and Italy were supposed to meet in the playoff finals as both teams got an easy test, but Azzurri was stunned by Macedonia. While Portugal bagged an easy win over Turkey with an emphatic 3-1 scoreboard. However, this doesn’t tell the whole story, as the Portuguese struggled to defend because of suspension and a lengthy injury list before the match.
An early goal from Otavio and Diogo Jota put ahead Fernando Santos’s side in the first half in Portugal. Later Turkey’s main man Burak Yilmaz cut the gap but failed to equalize with the spot-kick. Debutant Nunes took the advantage and enhances the lead in the dying time of the match. Ronaldo somehow failed to increase his remarkable international tally to 115 in Lisbon, but his team got the job done.
Ronaldo’s Qatar World Cup Dreams
It would have been daunting for Portugal to face the Euro Champion side in the finals, and everyone was expecting this match. Hard luck for Italy as Mancini’s boys fail to score after taking 32 shots on Macedonia’s post. Italy is now absent in consecutive football world cups as they fail the easy test against North Macedonia.
Italy was completely wasteful in front of Macedonia’s post. They were desperately scrambling in front of the goal to get the winning advantage but in vain. Aleksander Trajkovski hit the winning goal when the extra-time was looming with a low shot to the far corner of the left post. This goal sparks a wild celebration on the Macedonian side while breaking Qatar world cup dreams of Italy.
It is the second time that Aleksander Trajkovski has ended the hopes of Italy in the World Cup qualifying stage. In 2017, Trajlovski scored to equalize 1-1, which sent Italy to the World cup playoffs. Later Italy failed to manage a seat in Russia world cup 2018. Trajkovski has developed a habit of being an Italian party destroyer.
Italy produces heavily experienced and top-tier set players compared to Macedonia. Macedonia featured 15 players. Among them, only two players have the experience to play in the top five leagues in Europe. Other players are from the second tier of Germany, Saudi Arabia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Cyprus, and Moldova.
The standard of leagues the two teams’ players are in have no comparison at all, but the desire to win was very clear by any means. After the match, the manager of Macedonia stated that “we won in Italian style against the Italians. I told these guys to have fun, and they did it just that way.” The Balkan nation showed great strength against the four-time world cup winners.
It is not the first time that this Balkan country is doing magic in the world cup qualifier. Last year this time, they did the same against Germany. They bagged a win over in Germany with the goal of 37-year old Goran Pandev, Macedonia’s crown jewel. It was one of the biggest shocks in world cup qualifying history.
There are no reasons to consider them as the new giant killer in Europe. North Macedonia qualified for the Euro 2020, which was held under a new format under coach Milevski. The new era of North Macedonian football has undergone since then. The Portuguese coach Santos has already warned his guys that Macedonia is a very difficult team to beat.
The 67-year old experienced manager said to his team that “I told you before we could be playing them, and those games are not a joke. It’s like a final, and anything can happen.” He added that a team like Macedonia could beat the Euro champions, and they need no introductions. He concluded that “We have to face it with the focus and concentration that it deserves.”
Italy was devastated by the defeat as they failed to seal a single victory in the international knockout stages since the final in the 2006 world cup. Azzurri looked confident about beating England in the Euro last summer. During the fall season, they lost their winning mentality and failed to qualify for the Qatar world cup bagging only one victory in the last five qualifier matches. Roberto Mancini’s side even loses in the final of the Nations League.
North Macedonia is now preparing to qualify for its maiden world cup appearance in Qatar next December. They are now playing on and off the field to secure their spot against the Portuguese in Porto on 30 March. Their wild celebration is a message to Ronaldo that they are coming for him.
Portugal is blessed with the all-time top scorer Ronaldo on their side. Santos has several talented attacking options like Jota, who scored against Turkey, Bruno Fernandes, Andre Silva, Goncalo Guedes, and Bernardo Silva who are capable of destroying any defense in their day. But the absence of Pepe and Ruben Dias at the defense line will be a threat to Santos’s team.
Portugal has suffered at the backline against Turkey which will be encouraging for the Balkan side to snatch a victory. North Macedonia already displayed great defense performance and ability against the Azzurri. If they manage to score it will be very difficult to beat them. Probably Macedonian coach will try to score as he knows what the weak point of his opponent is.
For Ronaldo, he will try his best to reach the Qatar world cup because he is 37 already. Who knows, it might be his last world cup appearance and he cannot make a mistake at this level. This determination will fire up his nation to seal a spot in the Qatar World Cup tournament.
Macedonia and Ronaldo both will be at the edge to notch the opportunity which is at their fingertips. Football fans will be lucky to witness the great match on 30 March.