What Italy must do to qualify for the European Championships

On Friday and then Monday next week, the men’s national football team will play the last two matches of the qualifying groups for next summer’s European Championship against North Macedonia and Ukraine. Qualification is not at all assured: Italy is currently third in its group behind England, first and already qualified, and Ukraine, second with 3 points ahead but also one match more than Italy.

The top two in each group will qualify directly for the European Championships, occupying 20 of the 24 available places. The remaining four participants will be decided in the play-offs, in which twelve national teams will participate based on the results obtained in the Nations League, the seasonal tournament organized by UEFA which replaced most international friendly matches. If they finish third, Italy can already be considered play-off safe, as can Croatia, Greece, Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands and Serbia.

To qualify for the European Championships and avoid missing another international tournament – which it is the holder of – after the last two editions of the World Cup, Italy is starting from a return but will have every chance of doing so. Indeed, it has two matches left to play, including a direct clash, to recover three points from Ukraine, which will only play one. And three points could be enough, given that in the event of a tie, the ranking order will be decided by direct matches: in the first leg, Italy beat Ukraine 2-1. It will therefore be enough to maintain the advantage during confrontations and score at least 3 points in two matches. For coach Luciano Spalletti, the primary objective is to immediately beat North Macedonia on Friday evening in Rome.

Italy have never had any major problems against Ukraine, having been beaten seven times in nine matches in which they have never lost. But Monday’s match, which will be played on neutral ground in Germany due to the ongoing war, will be a bit of a story in itself, given that the Ukrainians have a particular motivation to secure qualification for the European Championships , given the period they went through. They cross.

Regarding North Macedonia, the situation is different. Despite being one of the smaller European national teams, they still manage to put together a decent player selection, which has been enough to put us in trouble recently. In recent years, Italy’s weaknesses have often been highlighted by the Balkan national team. In 2017, a disappointing draw in Skopje heralded elimination from the World Cup qualifying play-offs, and in March 2022, it was again North Macedonia who eliminated us in the first round of another edition of the play-offs. But last September, another draw in Skopje complicated the path to qualification for the European Championships.

For those two matches, Spalletti initially called up 29 players, but then had to withdraw goalkeeper Alex Meret, midfielder Manuel Locatelli and defenders Davide Calabria, Rafael Toloi and Alessandro Bastoni due to physical problems. Manuel Lazzari, Cristiano Biraghi and Gianluca Mancini were called up in their place. The signings are Andrea Cambiaso and Andrea Colpani, while Alessandro Buongiorno and Jorginho were recalled five months after last time. Below all those called:

Goalkeepers Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain), Ivan Provedel (Lazio), Guglielmo Vicario (Tottenham)Defenders Francesco Acerbi (Inter), Gianluca Mancini (Roma), Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina), Alessandro Buongiorno (Turin), Andrea Cambiaso (Juventus), Matteo Darmian (Inter), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Federico Dimarco (Inter), Federico Gatti (Juventus), Manuel Lazzari (Lazio)Midfielder Nicolò Barella (Inter), Giacomo Bonaventura (Fiorentina), Andrea Colpani (Monza), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Davide Frattesi (Inter), Jorginho (Arsenal);Attackers Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Chiesa (Juventus), Stephan El Shaarawy (Roma), Moise Kean (Juventus), Matteo Politano (Napoli), Giacomo Raspadori (Napoli), Gianluca Scamacca (Atalanta), Nicolò Zaniolo (Aston Villa)

Source: ilpost

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