Italy manager Luciano Spalletti insists there are no favourites in Monday’s crucial match against Ukraine in Euro 2024 qualifiers.
Ukraine and Italy will face each other on Monday in a game that will directly decide who qualifies for the UEFA Euro 2024. England has already qualified and the second spot in Group C is up for grabs.
Italy will finish in second place with a draw, but Ukraine needs all three points to qualify.
‘There are no favourites‘
“The table says that Ukraine have as many points as Italy, so there are no favourites tomorrow,” insisted the coach in his press conference.
“Ukraine prepared in the best possible way, I expect them to be attacking, as Serhiy Rebrov has a positive approach to the game. We need to keep focused, but I think our way of taking the opponents on is correct. One has to have a balance, naturally, as Ukraine are very dangerous on the counter-attack, so preventative marking will be crucial.
“That is something we got wrong against North Macedonia and we must not do it again. When the time comes to press, we press, when it’s time to keep organised, we will be organised, even if it means leaving them a little bit more of the pitch at certain moments. I feel as time goes on, they will be forced to push forward more.”
Spalletti replaced Roberto Mancini in September after he decided to resign from his post.
“This is one of those days that can become your greatest achievement, regret or remorse. A game like this can put pressure on, certainly, but these are above all huge opportunities and nothing can limit or frenzied desire to defend the European title,” explained Spalletti.
“This is who we are and it is our duty to go and defend that title. Many of our current players know how hard they fought to win that title, so we will be ready.
“Many times in my life, I have faced things that frightened me, but then that proved exciting. The real question is: Can we do it? And the answer is yes. So we’ll see what we’re made of.”
Spalletti: There are going to be four or five changes
Italy has only not conceded against Malta in 2023, but Spalletti is not worried about his team’s defense.
“This is part of our approach. It is more difficult to score goals at international level than it is to protect the defence, so both are important.
“I will tell you that there are going to be four or five changes, but that’s all I’m telling you…”
After Jorginho missed his fourth penalty in a row, Spalletti insisted that he would remain Italy’s number one penalty-taker. However, Spalletti now says it would be unfair to give the next penalty to Jorginho.
“We have other players who can take penalties. It would be wrong right now to force Jorginho back onto the spot. It would put undue pressure on and put him in a difficult situation asking him to take a penalty now.”