There is still Ukraine on the road that separates Italy from the 2024 European Championships. Both teams have 13 points in the standings, but with a decisive difference for qualification purposes. Italy - in the event of a level point finish with coach Rebrov's side - are ahead by virtue of a 2-1 win at San Siro. In Leverkusen, therefore, the Azzurri have two results out of three. A match to control, but given Italy against Macedonia, even to win, the Azzurri have every chance.
Due to the war that is scourging Ukraine, the "home" team is forced to play all its matches away from Ukraine. Also in this case the match will be played on a neutral ground and, specifically, in Germany. The crucial match for both teams will be staged at the BayArena in Leverkusen. The feeling is that the Italian fans will be in the majority, for a challenge that, in the end, will see us almost as hosts. The stadium, renovated in 2009, has a capacity of 30,210 spectators and will be the ideal stage for a match of such great importance. Against Ukraine, a draw would be enough, as mentioned, a draw, the Azzurri led by Luciano Spalletti will have two results out of three at their disposal. The clear victory against North Macedonia allows the Azzurri to breathe. This is the situation in Group C.: already mathematically qualified England with first place with 19 points 19, the runner-up remains to be decided, one between Ukraine and Italy, who both have 13 points, the Azzurri absolutely must not lose to reach Euro 2024. The weight of the match and the obligation to attack at all costs is therefore on the shoulders of Ukraine, which has 13 points like the Azzurri but lost the direct clash in Milan 2-1 with Spalletti already on the Azzurri bench, Italy, will also have to be ready to strike on the counterattack at the moment when the rivals will inevitably unbalance to look for the winning goal. The record smiles on Italy, who in nine games against Ukraine have won 7 and drawn 2.
BayArena in Leverkusen
The atmosphere in Italy is charged, qualification is within reach, coach Ranieri also intervened in this regard, "Spalletti has recreated the right environment, they play well, as one man. It will be a decisive match, very important, but I am confident", these are the statements of the Cagliari coach to 'Radio Anch'io Sport', on Rai Radio 1 Sport, a few hours before Ukraine-Italy, a decisive match for the Azzurri's qualification for Euro 2024.
"We go to Germany with the certainty that it is a game in which we can get a result." Luciano Spalletti goes straight to the press conference, an important challenge. An inside or outside match because at stake is qualification for the next European Championships, of which we are the title holders, but also the bracket from which the Azzurri will start for the draw. Two results out of three, but a win is vital to avoid the risk of finishing in the last pot and then having an iron group in Germany in 2024. And just before Leverkusen, this evening, Italy will have to show that they have important quality and potential, as the coach pointed out. Ahead of the match, the former Napoli coach released the list of players called up with some surprise exclusions.
For Spalleti's side, Scamacca has the advantage over Raspadori in the role of first striker. On the right, Politano comes on in place of Berardi who remains out of the squad and goes to the stands for technical choice, Frattesi is also seen from the start while Jorginho is confirmed in the director's chair. In defence, Mancini is ahead of Juventus' Gatti. Di Lorenzo returns from suspension. There is a problem: the choice of penalty takers. Jorginho's mistake from the penalty spot was the Arsenal midfielder's 4th in a row in the Azzurri. A slight mistake, this time, after the decisive one that cost Italy the World Cup in Qatar. Spalletti wants to trust him, but if another penalty were to happen in the decisive match against Ukraine, are we sure that the former Napoli playmaker would take it? Should it be necessary to change, however, the queue to pull is not that long, we'll see.
Here are the possible line-up choices of the two coaches.
Ukraine: Bushchan; Konoplya, Zabarnyi, Krivstov, Mykolenko; Stepanenko, Zinchenko; Yarmolenko, Sudakov, Tsygankov; Dovbyk.
Italy: David; Di Lorenzo, Gatti, Acerbi, Dimarco; Barella, Cristante, Bonaventura; Berardi, Raspadori, Chiesa.