European qualifiers. The last match against Belgium in Helsinki. Fabbian: "We have all the ingredients to do well"It’s the last match of the European qualifiers and it’s do or die: the Azzurrini and red devils share the same number of points at the top of the group. Only first place can progress
Monday, March 28, 2022
Tomorrow we have the deciding match. At 16:30 CEST (live streaming on www.figc.it) the Under-19s will face Belgium in their final game of the second qualifying phase for the European Championships. After drawing (2-2) with Germany and winning (4-0) against the hosts, Finland, Nunziata’s boys will have to beat the red devils in order to be mathematically sure of cutting off any path for Slovakia (home of the European Championship finals from mid-June): "Let's take to the pitch and win” says the Azzurro coach, “we need to forget about any calculations." The two teams are at the top of the group 5 standings with 4 points apiece and it all boils down to how the other match between Germany and Finland will pan out; on paper, it ought to end in victory for the Germans. Should Italy draw, this would create the paradox of three teams with the same number of points (5), with all occupying the first place, despite only one outfit granted progression to the final stages. Given this conundrum, the Azzurrini's would need to draw with a scoreline of at least 3-3 to have progress as group leaders.
An evening split between training in the morning and rest in the afternoon. Regarding tomorrow, Giovanni Fabbian is calm. Born 19 years ago in Camposampiero (PD), and raised in the Padua youth academy, he is now a midfielder for Inter's Primavera, having joined the first team last July. A class act on the pitch, and an immovable fixture for the national team, alongside teammates at club level, Casadei and Zanotti. He’s been the star of the show in the previous two games, playing at a high-level; he shows great versatility in both the offensive and defensive phases of the game: "I have known everyone since the Under-16s and we are a fantastic group”, says Giovanni, “but it is helpful that I have my teammates with me because I see them on a daily basis and there is a familiarity there.” On tomorrow's match: "I am expecting a very difficult match and we will have to start well, to give ourselves the best possible chance of competing: we will have to put in a real effort if we’re to win and achieve European qualification". Concerning the opponent’s quality: "They are a really technical side, so we will have to follow their gameplan and move the ball as quickly as possible: we have all the credentials to do well".
Italy v Belgium form book: 4 wins, 3 draws, 3 defeats
Belgium. They had the second most prolific attack of the entire first phase of qualifiers (12 goals scored and just 4 conceded). They took top spot in Group 8 with 2 wins (5-1 against Azerbaijan; 5-1 against Luxembourg) and a draw (2-2 with Spain). They are probably the most dangerous opponent to assume the 4-2-3-1 formation with good technique, intensity and a lot of physicality. Two key components: Noah Mbamba (2005), the Bruges midfielder, who made 15 appearances in the first half of the season. During the first qualifying phase he found the back of the net in every game. Another star performer is Luca Oyen; originally born in England, and a very good attacking midfielder. He plies his trade for Genk with whom he has played 17 games and scored two goals so far this season.
Calendar, results and standings (Italian time – Finland +1)
Wednesday 23 March
Italy 2-2 Germany
Finland 1-3 Belgium
Saturday 26 March
Belgium 2-2 Germany
Finland 0-4 Italy
Standings. Italy and Belgium 4 pts, Germany 2, Finland 0
Tuesday 29 March
Germany v Finland, Helsinki Football Stadium, 16:30 CEST
Belgium v Italy, Myyrmäki Stadium (Vantaa), 16:30 CEST (live stream via the FIGC website)