(Football news) Italy is in third place in Group C going into the Euro 2024 qualification match, three points behind Ukraine, who are in second place with one game less played. Spalletti was persuaded to end his self-imposed hiatus by the Italian federation after Roberto Mancini resigned as Italy’s head coach to take the helm of Saudi Arabia.
Spalletti was back in charge of the Napoli team for Saturday’s Euro 2024 qualifier against North Macedonia, just four months after leading Napoli to their first Serie A championship in 33 years.
A late Enis Bardhi free kick ensured that Italy left Skopje with just a point to show for their efforts as they faced North Macedonia for the first time after losing 1-0 in the World Cup qualifying playoff last year. Italy looked on course to exact revenge when their captain Ciro Immobile headed home the opening goal in the 47th minute.
Italy finished third in the most recent UEFA Nations League, which guaranteed them a playoff spot. However, they will be anxious to avoid that second-best option, and a victory on Tuesday that would move them ahead of Ukraine into second place would increase their chances of qualifying automatically.
The Azzurri’s last home setback came against England, but it was their first home loss in European Championship qualifying since September 1999, underscoring the success that Tuesday’s hosts typically have in front of their own fans.
Ukraine has gone on a winning streak to earn seven points from three games and climb into second place after losing 2-0 to England in their debut Euro 2024 qualifying encounter.
Sergiy Rebrov’s team returned to action on Saturday with a strong performance against the Three Lions in Poland, where the designated hosts were playing due to the current conflict with Russia. This came after they won back-to-back matches against North Macedonia and Malta in June.
Oleksandr Zinchenko of Arsenal gave his nation the lead in the 26th minute as he guided the ball home after a cutback from Yukhym Konoplya. Kyle Walker then tied the score in the final seconds of the first half.
As both teams failed to score in the second half, Ukraine celebrated a significant point that puts them in a strong position in Group C as they seek to qualify for a fourth straight European Championship.
In eight efforts (D2, L6), Ukraine has never defeated Italy. Despite the fact that a first victory would be an enormous accomplishment, getting a point in Milan will be their first aim.
Italy Euro Qualifiers Form
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Ukraine Euro Qualifiers Form
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Prior to Saturday’s draw with North Macedonia, Federico Chiesa and Lorenzo Pellegrini opted out of the Italy team, and Spalletti has since suffered two more setbacks due to injuries. Gianluca Mancini, a defender for Roma, and Matteo Politano, an offensive player for Napoli, have both departed the camp because of thigh and calf issues, respectively.
Riccardo Orsolini of Bologna has been inserted into the lineup in place of Politano after Spalletti decided not to call up a replacement for Mancini. Nikolai Matvienko, who was forced to leave the England game at halftime due to an injury, is questionable for the game on Tuesday for the visitors.
Matvieko was substituted by Sergiy Kryvstov of Inter Miami on Saturday; if the Shakhtar Donetsk defender is unable to play in Milan, Kryvstov may be given the opportunity to start. After being substituted with a calf injury in the 90th minute of Saturday’s draw, Ukrainian fans will be hoping that Chelsea winger Mykhaylo Mudryk will be declared fit.
Also read: Switzerland set to play Andorra at the Euro Qualifiers