Nazionale A

A Euro 2024 spot at stake against Ukraine

The Azzurri carried out one final training session at Coverciano this morning before flying to Leverkusen, where they will play their decisive European qualifer tomorrow evening

Sunday, November 19, 2023

A Euro 2024 spot at stake against Ukraine

The Azzurri carried out one last training session at Coverciano this morning before jetting off to Leverkusen in the afternoon, where they will face Ukraine at the BayArena tomorrow evening (20:45 CET, live on Rai 1) in their final Euro 2024 qualifying group game.

Italy have known for a month or so that tomorrow's head-to-head clash with the Ukrainians would be decisive, with just a point needed to book their place at Euro 2024 in Germany. This is also thanks to a convincing win over North Macedonia on Friday, which has provided them with two results out of a possible three to qualify. Despite being on the same points, the Azzurri find themselves in second place in the table courtesy of a 2-1 win in Milan over Ukraine last September, following a brace from Frattesi, for Italy, and a goal from Yarmolenko.

“The lads are well," said Luciano Spalletti in his interview for FIGC's social media channels. "Everyone is available and I'm spoilt for choice. There's quality in every department and the potential is great. We go to Germany with the knowledge that we can get a result. Some important players have joined back up with us, like Chiesa, who know how to make the difference, and we've got to know some new elements that can take this National side forward in the future. Our attitude must be to play the game the way we have prepared and spoke about it, not only from this week but since we started working together.”

Italy only need to do what they have done in nine previous meetings with Ukraine tomorrow evening, not get beat. They remain undefeated with seven wins and two draws in the head-to-head record. But it won't be easy against Serhij Rebrov's National team who have proven to be a tricky opponent, with players such as Zinchenko and Mudryk, and who at home - despite having to play on international soil beyond their borders due to the continuing war – have yet to lose, even managing to earn a 1-1 draw against leaders England.

“They are strong and powerful in attack," warned the gaffer. "They have players who are in good form in the leagues they play in. We'll have to play as a team and give everything we have. The magnitude of the game tells us that we need to go beyond our capabilities; we want to steal Italians' hearts and this is the right moment to do it. It's the game to take that step up in quality that allows you to work with more ease.”

BARELLA'S DREAMS. If Federico Chiesa took the front page headlines the day after, with his brace at the Olimpico against North Macedonia, Nicolò Barella was once again a shining light. After an excellent start to the season, the Inter midfielder served up two assists: the first with a genial backheel for Chiesa to make it 2-0: “Tomorrow, even a simple assist, or one from out wide, will be nice," he jokingly said in his interview with FIGC's social media channels. "The most important thing, if the Coach picks me to play, is to contribute to a win that will send us to the Euros. We can't slip up, and need to put our heads and hearts into the game. We're ready and, as always, have studied the opposition and will give everything we have to get where we want to.”

Italy have their destiny in their own hands: “We so desparately want this qualification. There have been some difficult moments, but we have earned the right to be in this position. We just need to think about getting a result without having to rely on others.”

He picked up his 50th cap on Friday, not bad for a 26-year-old who has become one of the senior members of the squad: “I hope to get many more. The best thing to come out of the game with North Macedonia was the reaction we gave after conceding those two goals: we kept on looking to play and score more goals, which eventually paid off with the final result.”