0-0 draw with Ukraine enough to seal qualification to Euro 2024An exciting game at the BayArena saw the Men's National team earn a well-deserved spot at the tournament. In June, they will go to Germany to defend the title won at Wembly
Monday, November 20, 2023
Auf Wiedersehen Germany, see you in June! In Leverkusen, a 0-0 draw with Ukraine was enough to book Italy's place in the European Championships Finals, where they will go and defend the title won at Wembley. To fly off to Germany next summer, a draw was all that was needed, and it came with a taste of victory. But not without suffering. Both sides spurned several chances, with Chiesa andf Mudryk the main stars on show in an exciting game that was played at 100 mph. Italy, though, didn't play for a point, coming close to opening the scoring through Frattesi and Raspadori in the first half, thanks to the Juventus winger's fast bursts away. But also Donnarumma proved vital with two big saves, one in each half, from Sudakov and Mudryk. The whole team dug in, showed the character and fight necessary to come out winners together.
THE MATCH. Four changes were made from the game with North Macedonia three days ago. After his suspension, Di Lorenzo was back in, while Buongiorno earned his second cap alongside Acerbi in the centre of defence. Jorginho and Barella continued in midfield, with Frattesi chosen to replace Bonaventura. The front trio saw Zaniolo come in for Berardi, while Raspadori got the nod over Scamacca to play alongside Federico Chiesa. Ukraine were able to count on their big names, from Zinchenko to 100 million-euro man Mudryk, with Dovbyk leading the line in a 4-2-3-1 that became a 5-4-1 formation out of possession, Zinchenko dropping back on the left - a role he knows well and plays regularly in the Premier League.
The atmosphere was rocking and the cries of ‘Italia, Italia’, rang around the stands at the BayArena, with more support there for the Azzurri than just the 1800 tickets sold out for the away sector. The tempo of the game was fast and inside five minutes the first effort on goal came from Tsygankov, with Donnarumma getting behind it comfortably. The pace of Dovbyk was causing some issues for Acerbi first and then Buongiorno, who was forced into a booking early on for stopping the Girona centre-forward's run away. In the 14th minute, Donnarumma did well to get down low to his right with a strong hand to deny Sudakov, and a minute later, at the other end, Trubin made a flying stop to keep out Barella's drive from the edge of the box. There was no waiting game for either side: on 27 minutes, Dimarco's corner found Di Lorenzo, who headed inches wide. And a minute later, Italy had the best chance to break the deadlock: Chiesa went on a surging run; he played in Frattesi, who bore down on goal but couldn't beat an onrushing Trubin. Immediately after, another great piece of play from Chiesa, following Dimarco's delightful backheel, saw him cross for Raspadori, who failed to arrive in time and the ball flashed across the face of goal. It was an attacking Italy, who were not content on playing for a 0-0 draw, with the most danger coming from Dimarco and Chiesa on the left flank. Only the goal was missing.
At the break, Scamacca came on for Raspadori. The Atalanta striker had a chance right from the off, but shot over from close range. But the assistant raised his flag for offside anyway. Chiesa, hugging the touchline on the left, often got past his marker, just as Mudryk showed on the other side with that extra burst of pace. On 65 minutes, there was a scare in the Azzurri box: a misunderstanding between Di Lorenzo and Donnarumma saw the shotstopper hesitate in taking a cross, but he redeemed himself by getting across goal and saving well from Mudryk's cleanly struck shot. With a lung-busting attempt to get back to defend, Chiesa showed his great physical condition, receiving applause from his teammates.
A double change on 70' for Italy saw Zaniolo and Jorginho coming off for Politano and Cristante. Ukraine had to win and stepped up the pressure in search for a goal, bringing Zubkov and Pikhalyonok into the mix. Then, one Juventus player replaced another with Kean for Chiesa, while Rebrov played his last cards with Tymchyk, Sikan and Malinovskyi. The BayArena was bedlam, and Italy had to dig deep right until the end. Politano's match lasted only 20 minutes, as he was subbed off for Darmian. There was another scare at the death when Cristante tackled Mudryk in the box, but the Spanish referee, Gil Manzano, let play continue and VAR didn't intervene. Following five endless minutes of stoppage-time, the final whistle blew. Mission accomplished, the play offs avoided, Italy off to the Euros. The draw for the group stages will take place on 2 December in Hamburg: we'll be in the pot, too.
RESULTS AND GROUP C STANDINGS
Ukraine 0-0 Italy
North Macedonia 1-1 England
Table: *England 20 points, *Italy and Ukraine 14, North Macedonia 8, Malta 0
*qualified for Euro 2024