Numerous chances were wasted and the final 10 minutes were pure excitement, with Ukraine needing to win a potential penalty. Italy leave tonight in Leverkusen with the joy of knowing that they will return to Germany in June, to participate in Euro 2024: qualification has come directly, without going through the damned play-offs. The 0-0 scoreline against Ukraine was enough, even if it was undoubtedly the worst of the good, and was perfect for an exciting final: despite the Azzurri’s dominance, all it took was a Ukrainian blip, an Azzurri error, and a misfire in the net. Created by Spalletti.
It is also for this reason, as well as the fear of ill-fated play-offs these days, that the Italians’ joy at the end of the match was uncontrollable. Now a new page begins for Spalletti, one of building his team peacefully, with a great desire to return. We’ll start with Chiesa as the driving force this evening, from his continued difficulties in finishing on goal and putting a lot of play into play, and from his defensive solidity. The coach was aiming for a win, but given the times the Euro 2024 ticket is considered a success.
On the other hand, Ukraine is in the qualifiers, and who knows if it will be rewarded for the decision of the Spaniard Manzano, who in the 90th minute passed over Cristante’s entry on Modric’s foot inside the area, without even a goal. Resort to var. On Leverkusen’s neutral ground, Spalletti prefers to pin Raspadori physically on Scamacca, in an attack that relies on Zaniolo in terms of muscles; Gatti is making changes in defense with Torino player Bongiorno and in midfield Bonaventura with Fratesi. On the other hand, Rebrov, who had to win to secure his ticket to Euro 2024, only fielded one real striker: Dovbek, the giant of Girona who leads the Spanish League, but he was assisted by the attacking duo of Modric and Sudakov. In the stands, the riot of yellow and blue flags, such as the one surrounding the Ukrainian 11 on the pitch with the national anthem, is balanced by many Italian immigrants. As expected, Ukraine was quick to raise the tempo immediately, while Italy wanted to surround him with prevarication.
Between the Fratese-DeMarco combination that led to a shot (saved by) Raspadori and Chiesa’s drop to the left, in the fifth minute, the first chance was a shot from the outside by Tsygankov, one of his best players, which was saved by Donnarumma. Chiesa responded by raising his right foot very high at the ball in front of goal, but the assist came from a ball over the goal line. Dovbek leads the Italian defense, opening the gaps for the Ukrainian arrows, before Bongiorno saves him: Modric from the left places a very dangerous ball in the middle, which Demarco clears from Konoplia’s head, and then Donnarumma takes over to block the shot. Land by Sudakov. He is only eleven. Italy understands, and takes the ball in its hands: shake it, O Church, with its tears. On the quarter-hour mark, Barella forced Tropin to clear the ball, and Di Lorenzo tried twice with a header from a corner kick, lifting too high in the 20th minute and touching the post 8 minutes later. Immediately afterwards, Fratesi had a great chance, sent into the penalty area by Chiesa who quickly entered a central gap: the Inter player missed it with a shot at goalkeeper Tropin.
It’s Italy’s best moment. In the 31st minute, Chiesa runs away again, this time to the left, on his ball directed into Raspadori’s centre, just a hair’s breadth from behind. The first half ends with Barella’s right-foot shot (42) and the excitement resulting from Jorginho losing the ball in front of the defense. It ends without a rebound, given the pace. On his return to the field, Scamacca was alongside Raspadori and a fine shot was taken after 3 minutes, even from an offside position. Ukraine accepts the Azzurri’s control of the match, while relying on quick counterattacks in space. In the 13th minute, Chiesa tried to hit the ball with his right foot next to the post. The 0-0 score that stood and the passing time frightened Italy, and in the 20th minute they came close to absurdity: a long throw-in for Ukraine, on the rebound in the middle of the area, Donnarumma let it slide until Modryac shot with his left foot. Fire, which he must prevent. Immediately after that, the Tsygankov-Dubvik triangle became very dangerous. Spalletti is angry with Scamaka who does not keep the ball, and here lies the key to the Azzurri’s suffering at the present time. In the 25th minute, Politano came on instead of the hurting Zaniolo, and Cristante replaced Jorginho. With his energy remaining, Chiesa delivers a fine ball to Scamaka, who waits for him in front of goal, before coming off for Kane ten minutes from time. They are the Ukrainian pressure that sends all physical attackers onto the field: 2′ from the end Donnarumma blocks Sudakov’s shot, then Cristante and Modric’s contact and the suspense of the decision hangs over Italy. This means passes for Euro 2024.
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