Reigning European champions Italy qualified for Euro 2024 on Monday night thanks to their 0-0 draw against Ukraine in Leverkusen (Germany) in the last game of the qualifiers, thus avoiding the trap of a play-off at the end of March. Luciano Spalletti's men will defend the trophy they won in the summer of 2021, while Ukraine will have to win their play-off at the end of March with Israel, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Finland to play the fourth Euro in their history.
Italy thus spared themselves the stress of a cut-off play-off that proved fatal in November 2017, in a home-and-away format against Sweden, and in March 2022, in a Final 4 format, beaten in the semi-finals by North Macedonia. Those setbacks had deprived them of the last two World Cups, in 2018 in Russia and last year in Qatar, a trauma for a country that had previously missed out on the World Cup only twice, in 1930 and 1958.
Spalletti narrowly escapes
Italy clinched a second continental title in July 2021, but saw their European champion coach Roberto Mancini unexpectedly resign in mid-August, before taking over as Saudi Arabia's coach two weeks later. His successor, Luciano Spalletti, has had a mixed start, hanging on in North Macedonia, beaten in England, but securing the necessary home wins against Ukraine, Malta and North Macedonia.
- Euro 2024