The time has come: a place at the Euros at stake against Israel. Bertolini: “We’re ready”In order to secure automatic qualification, the Azzurre will need to beat the Israelis and score at least two goals in the process
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
The Artemio Franchi in Florence is set to host a very important evening. At 17:30 CET tomorrow, Italy Women will take on Israel in the same stadium where they secured qualification for the 2019 World Cup almost three years ago. This time around, they’re aiming to earn a spot at the European Championship, which will be held in England in the summer of 2022.
In the past week, the Azzurre’s chances of securing automatic qualification were given a big boost. Their initial task was to beat Israel by six goals in order to avoid the dreaded playoff route. Now, thanks to Finland’s late victory over Portugal (Group E), Italy only need to beat the Israelis and score at least two goals in the process.
The Azzurre’s destiny is more than ever in their own hands. While they’ll be facing a tough and aggressive opponent, they’re now undoubtedly in an easier situation. “We need to win at all costs, so there is a bit of pressure,” said Milena Bertolini during her pre-match press conference. We’ve been training well, showing enthusiasm and remaining attentive in the process. We’ve studied the characteristics of the opposition and also focused on our strengths. The girls have done their best, we’re ready for the upcoming showdown.”
The Head Coach will have to do without Alia Guagni, who picked up an injury while in action for Atletico Madrid: “I’m disappointed for Alia, who’s one of the strongest players we have. We know how much the Italy shirt means to her. We’ll miss her and will also play for her.”
One player who was involved in that magical evening in front of 6,500 spectators on 8 June 2018 was Sara Gama, who is ready to achieve another vital objective together with her teammates. “We wrote a bit of history at the Franchi, so it’s always great to play here,” said the captain prior to the Azzurre’s final training session today. She continued: “In sport, you always need to look to the future and aim to achieve new goals. This is why we’re here.” Despite what’s at stake and there being an obligation to win, Gama isn’t unduly concerned about pressure. “The best way to manage it is to train as best you can,” she continued. “We’ve been doing this for nine days now, and our destiny is in our own hands. We need to approach the match with the right spirit so that all of our efforts during this very long qualifying campaign don’t go to waste. One last push is required.”
Before Wednesday’s match, a minute’s silence will be observed to remember Mauro Bellugi and the victims of yesterday’s ambush in the Democratic Republic of Congo, during which Italian Ambassador Luca Attanasio and police officer Vittorio Iacovacci lost their lives.