Euro 2022, aiming to beat Belgium to qualify for the quarters. Bertolini: “I expect a great performance”A victory is needed in Manchester to have a chance of progressing. Gama: “We need to play our best football”
Sunday, July 17, 2022
To progress to the quarter-finals, the team will have to perform like they know they can. The best version of the National Team will need to be on display, one which fans and experts have come to admire and, in many cases, fear thanks to great performances and results. Tomorrow, the Azzurre will take to the pitch at the Manchester City Academy Stadium in the hunt for three points that – if France beat or draw with Iceland – would secure their place in the quarter-finals.
“It’s true that it’s a straight knockout match, but it’ll be a night like any other because we’ve experienced such important moments in the past,” said Milena Bertolini in her pre-match press conference. “The first two games didn’t go as planned, but the girls did well to not get overwhelmed and put themselves back into contention, especially after conceding against Iceland. There was a reaction and I expect a great performance tomorrow.” In response to those who think the team still need to grow character-wise and get used to pressure and criticism, the Head Coach had the following to say: “We’ve made big strides forward and now people expect a lot of us. It’s a situation that this group has never experienced, but we need to stay focused on on-the-pitch matters and the way we play. This is the only way we can beat Belgium.”
Tomorrow, Italy will face a determined and organised Belgian side that play in a 4-2-3-1 formation whose attacking players – especially Davinia Vanmechelen, who bagged a brace against the Azzurre in 2018 – are given plenty of freedom to do damage. “They have players with a large amount of international experience,” continued Bertolini. “They play good football and are strong character-wise, so I expect it to be a very even affair. Our game needs to be our starting point and we need to stay focus, including in the face of unpredictable incidents. The important thing is to win; only then can we see how the other match has ended.”
Cernoia won’t be involved in the decisive showdown, with the midfielder “angry that she hasn’t been able to make a contribution. She’s not yet fit enough to play, despite the fact she’s trained with a huge amount of desire in the past few days,” concluded Bertolini.
Sitting next to the Head Coach was captain Sara Gama, who had the following to say: “We know that it’s a decisive match and we’ll therefore try to play our best football. Criticism can happen; we need to learn to live with it and, at the same time, only focus on what we do on the pitch. We’re the first to place high demands on ourselves; the bar we set on a personal level is very high. We shouldn’t be affected by everything that is being said, even if there needs to be balance in such assessments. It doesn’t matter who plays tomorrow; the important thing is to win.”