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Football Around the World Weekly | Latest News & Stories – Mar. 28, 2022
Hello, footy fans, and welcome to our weekly review! Many things happened in the past couple of days, so we will not make this introduction long. Let’s start with the latest news, stories, latest results, and what holds for next week! Also, don’t forget to read our free footy predictions!
A Macedonian Sensation Marks the Week
The international break isn’t exactly a favorite period in the seasonal calendar for most football fans and bettors who like to place their bets on the most popular football leagues. Especially this one in March, when the club season is approaching the finish line and when the names of trophy winners in both domestic leagues and European cups are being decided.
But the main news last week was the North Macedonia national football team sensation, which eliminated the European champion Italy in the semifinal play-off match for the World Cup in Qatar after Aleksandar Trajkovski scored in the 92nd minute. Thus, the popular “Azzurri” remained without a place in the second consecutive World Cup tournament.
Right before the match, there was a completely different atmosphere. The draw put the European football superpowers Portugal and Italy in the same section, so many have already talked about the duel of the last two European champions. No one even thought that the national team of a small Balkan country that has never participated in the World Cup could shock the favored rivals.
Look what it meant to North Macedonia after knocking out Italy! ❤️💛
(via ffmacedonia/IG) pic.twitter.com/PqUAbZFzXr
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 24, 2022
North Macedonia have already made one surprise in the current qualifying round and beat Germany in Duisburg 2-1, with a goal by Eljif Elmas in the final minutes of the match. Also, they won a historic place in the last European Championship and demonstrated a rather satisfying level of football for a country with a population of just over two million people in the group with Austria, Ukraine, and the Netherlands. But still, nobody believed that Italy will lose this game, and popular betting sites before the match heavily overpriced odds on North Macedonia.
Many probably weren’t aware that this sports nation had enviable results in various sports in the recent past, just when nobody expected that of them. To refresh your memory, handball club Vardar won the title of European champions in the 2016/17 and 2018/19 seasons, knocking out giants such as Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, and Hungarian Veszprém. They showed up in the last two tournaments as complete outsiders, and in 2019, with the addition of serious financial problems and the fact that the club will fall apart at the end of the season.
The Macedonian national basketball team won fourth place at the Eurobasket 2011, led by naturalized American Lester Bo McCalebb and Pero Antić, eliminating Lithuania’s national selection along the way.
Just like last Thursday, the Macedonians were given almost no chance to make a surprise in 2011, 2017, and 2019. And the match with the Italians was really going in that direction. Roberto Mancini’s stars dominated the ball possession and the field, with many chances in front of Stole Dimitrievski’s goal. Italy had 33 shots to the opponent’s goal, but a patient and disciplined defensive line of the Macedonia national team resisted.
And then, in the 92nd minute, after the goal kick of the Macedonian goalkeeper, the ball reached Aleksandar Trajkovski, who hit the right corner of Donnarumma’s goal with a precise shot for a grand celebration of Macedonians and a complete shock and silence at the Renzo Barbera stadium in Palermo.
North Macedonia in the 92nd minute to eliminate Italy.
— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 24, 2022
Interestingly, the North Macedonian winger spent the best and most effective days of his football career right at this stadium in the Palermo jersey. He played 104 games for the popular “Rosaneros” and will be remembered as the last goal scorer for the team that declared bankruptcy in 2019 and that raised many football players with a rich playing career.
Before traveling to Porto, the representatives of North Macedonia stayed in their Skopje for several days, where thousands of compatriots greeted them on the streets of the capital and made it clear that they were already heroes of the nation.
On Tuesday, North Macedonia will have a strong opponent led by Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandez, Bernardo Silva, Diogo Jota, João Cancelo, and others. If they manage to make a new wonder, they’ll go down in the books of European and world football.
This nation has shown many times that it can overpower seemingly insurmountable barriers. Whether the brave troop of coach Blagoja Milevski will manage to do it again remains to be seen. The one who believes in miracles works miracles…
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