Defending champions Italy, the Czech Republic and Slovenia have qualified for the 18th to 20th round of next year’s UEFA European Football Championship in Germany (14 June to 14 July 2024). European Championship champions Italy were shaking during their Group C clash against Ukraine in Leverkusen for next summer’s final tournament. In the other finals, the Czech Republic won Group E against Moldova 3–0 (1–0) and Slovenia won Group H against Kazakhstan 2–1 (1–0).
Italy, mere spectators at the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals, were left to fear more than they had hoped for in an almost open exchange of blows with an equally brave Ukraine at the BayArena. Only the final whistle released Squadra Azzurra. Next spring, Ukraine will have another chance to take part in the playoffs of the European Championship.
Slovenia coped with Kazakhstan
In Ljubljana, Bundesliga ace Benjamin Sesko finally put Slovenia on track to qualify for the European Championships against rivals Kazakhstan. After a Leipzig player converted a penalty (41 minutes), the visitors only managed a temporary equalizer through Ramazan Orasov (48 minutes) before Benjamin Verbic (86 minutes) completed the home team’s success. However, the Kazakhs can still win Germany’s ticket to the playoffs.
The Czech Republic allowed a decrease in tensions in relations with Moldova in Olomouc. Leverkusen’s Adam Chlozek was the only Bundesliga foreign player in the starting line-up and the hosts held off the underdogs with little effort thanks to an early lead from David Dudera (14th), even without Chlozek’s club colleague Patrik Schick (calf injury). The necessary points were never in danger, especially since the visitors were only able to operate in the minority in the last 35 minutes after a yellow-red card against Vladislav Baboglo. Tomas Hory (72nd place) and Tomas Soucek (90th place) dispelled the last doubts regarding the resumption of the Czech Republic’s participation in the European Championship.
Trip to Germany second in group
All three “winners of the day” will go to Germany, finishing second in their group. Ahead of Italy, European Championship runners-up England, who had already won the group, remained unbeaten at the end of the qualifying round on a 1-1 (0-1) score thanks to an equalizing goal from Bayern Munich’s star striker. Harry Kane. Due to the direct comparison, the Czech Republic were unable to get past Albania, who successfully defended their lead with a 0-0 draw with the Faroe Islands. The Slovenes also had to finish level on points, behind group winners Denmark (0-2 in Northern Ireland).
As hosts, Germany were automatically confirmed as starters for the European Championship. The final spot of the 24 teams up for grabs through regular elimination will be contested in Tuesday’s long-distance clash in Group D between World Cup third-place Croatia and Wales. The remaining three places in the second final tournament in the 63-year history of the European Championship on German soil, after the premiere 35 years ago, will be played out in the playoffs at the end of March in three tournaments of four teams each. SID/jst)
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