Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio

UEFA European Under 17

Roma 15/05/2018

Azzurrini set for semi-final against Belgium on Thursday. Russo: “We must go all the way”

Azzurrini set for semi-final against Belgium on Thursday. Russo: “We must go all the way”

The Netherlands recently beat Ireland on penalties to join Italy, England and Belgium in the semi-final of the Under-17 European Championship. Daniele Zoratto’s side will be taking on the Red Devils in the final four; desperate to reach their first final since 2013. 

Yesterday saw the team granted a day of rest following their hard-fought 1-0 win over Sweden, although they were back to work this morning to take part in a light workout and a practice match. The entire squad are all available for the match on Thursday, although Alessio Riccardi will be suspended after reaching the yellow card limit. 

A goal from Vergani helped Italy sneak past Sweden in the quarter-finals, however, a penalty save from Alessandro Russo was also just as key. The Genoa goalkeeper displayed great composure to keep out Hammar’s spot-kick, once again saving his side under pressure as he also did in the Elite Round in March: “We’d studied the way Sweden take their penalties with Fabrizio Ferron (goalkeeping coach),” said Russo. “I didn’t think twice about it and intuition and luck also helped.”

Born in Reggio Calabria to sporting parents, he made the decision to leave for Liguria two years ago: “It was a decision that we all took together. We looked at all the possibilities and we decided that that was the best option. My mum is originally from Turin and she moved to Reggio Calabria to pursue her sporting career when she was young. She gave me good career advice.”

Initially starting out at Reggina, he eventually opted for football after some stiff competition from basketball: “I found the right atmosphere and the right people at Genoa,” he added. “However, I still find time for my studies despite my commitments.” He’s inspired by Handanovic, however, he can also rely on Perin as a constant source of inspiration: “Despite his injuries, he’s always had the mental strength to come back. This is a key skill for a goalkeeper. He is a gifted player with a strong personality and this is something that really comes across in training. He is always available to lend a hand.” 

Despite business still unfinished at club level with Genoa, the young goalkeeper remains fully focused on the task at hand with Italy: “We will need to show everything that we’ve done so far and really show our squad strength. We have nothing to lose and we must go for it right until the very end. We’ve made it to this point and we can’t let this opportunity pass us by.” 

Fixtures, results and standings in Group A

Matchday One (4th May)
ITALY 2-0 Switzerland
England 2-1 Israel (Chesterfield,)

Matchday Two (7th May)
ITALY 1-2 England (Banks’s Stadium, Walsall)
Israel 0-3 Switzerland (St. George’s Park, Burton upon Trent)

Matchday Three (10th May)
Israel- ITALY 0-2
Switzerland-England 1-0
Standings: ITALY, England, Switzerland 6 points, Israel 0

13th May: ITALY 1-0 Sweden
13th May: England 2-0 Norway
14th May: Belgium 2-1 Spain
14th May: The Netherlands 1-1 Republic of Ireland (5-4 d.c.r.)
17th May: ITALY vs. Belgium, 14:00 CEST, Rotherham FC Stadium
17th May: The Netherlands vs. England 20:00 CEST, Chesterfield FC Stadium