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Written By Onyeka Daniel

Italy was able to seal a place in the Euro 2024 tournament set to hold in the summer in Germany alongside England, after their 0-0 draw against Ukraine in Leverkusen.

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The Azurri needed just a point against the ‘home’ side and they managed to get it, and they’ve now been grouped in Pot 4 for the draw of the EURO 2024 group phase when it takes place on December 2. They needed Croatia to slip up against Armenia, but that ended 1-0 with a goal from Ante Budimir.

Vincenzo Montella’s Turkey also held Wales to a 1-1 draw, so his side is top of the group, while the Welsh go into the play-offs. The group qualifying is now over, though 12 teams will go into the play-offs in March and only three of those will make it through to the competition in Germany next summer. Those three will be in Pot 4 for the draw, along with Switzerland, Serbia and Italy.


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Pot 1 Germany, Portugal, France, Spain, Belgium, England

Pot 2 Denmark, Hungary, Austria, Albania, Turkey, Romania

Pot 3 Netherlands, Scotland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czechia, Croatia Pot 4 Italy, Switzerland, Serbia, play-off winners

Play-Offs Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Poland, Ukraine, Wales. Italy’s game against Ukraine wasn’t without controversy. According to Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis, there’s absolutely no doubts that Ukraine ‘were robbed’ in the crucial EURO 2024 qualifier.

The Azzurri knew a point would suffice to qualify for the tournament in Germany next summer and secured a 0-0 draw on neutral turf in Leverkusen. Deep into stoppages, Bryan Cristante appeared to catch Mykhailo Mudryk inside the penalty area, only for referee Jesus Gil Manzano and the VAR to wave play on.

While the incident was debated in the media and among the coaches and players too, Napoli President De Laurentiis is steadfast in his conviction. “Nobody wants to see a team robbed the way Ukraine were last night by Italy. They clearly should’ve had a penalty,” said De Laurentiis as part of the presentation of a new book.

Making the situation a little awkward was the fact De Laurentiis was at the time sitting with Napoli defender Giovanni Di Lorenzo and winger Matteo Politano, who were both playing for Italy last night. “In truth, you played well, better than most times I have seen the Nazionale, and you deserved to qualify.

Ukraine were motivated by the war, they had a dream and it was not made into reality. Then again, if everything was easy, it wouldn’t be a dream.” He further added. This was also the opinion of the Ukraine national team manager, Serhiy Rebrov. Ukraine can still qualify for EURO 2024, as they are one of 12 teams entering the play-offs in March 2024.

Meanwhile…

FIGC President Gabriele Gravina aimed a sideswipe at Roberto Mancini by praising Luciano Spalletti after the EURO 2024 qualification. ‘Today Italy have a great coach and a great man in charge. He does not wear masks.’ The Azzurri had won the EURO 2020 title under Mancini.

But he suddenly resigned in August to take over the Saudi Arabia job, leaving his team in the middle of a tough qualifying campaign. Spalletti was drafted in just days before two crunch games against North Macedonia and Ukraine, finally securing their place in the tournament last night.

“Today Italy have a great coach and a great man in charge, so I am satisfied above all for our fans,” said Gravina at the DLA Piper Sport Forum in Milan. “We had made a promise that they would be in the Euros and we did it without going through the play-offs, which as we saw can be a lottery.”

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Gravina was asked how Scudetto-winner Spalletti differs from predecessor Mancini, and replied; “I would not like to make comparisons with Mancini. We must always be grateful to him for the work he did for Italian football, including an unbeaten world record and winning the Euros. Of course, there is also the blemish of not qualifying for the World Cup.”

The praise for Spalletti also highlighted how the Federation chief feels about Mancini and the way he left the Nazionale in the lurch. “Spalletti has no secrets, wears no masks, he is very open and direct. He spoke for a long time to the lads and told them clearly that his desire is to start a new project that is absolutely innovative.

“He said the good times start now, as there are two friendlies in March and another two before the Euros. The Nazionale does not have many windows at its disposal to come together, but Spalletti will keep everyone in contact by personally visiting all the club training grounds. That is a wonderful example to set.” That is not all, as Spalletti also got all the players signed up to an app that allows them to view tactical instructions, videos and lectures even from a distance.

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