Italy coach Luciano Spalletti says he may make up to five changes to his Azzurri squad when they face Ukraine this evening. A win or a draw will be enough for Italy to qualify for next summers EURO’s, but they face a Ukraine side that will have added motivation of their own. Speaking in his pre-match presser, Spalletti explained the challenges facing his team and how he plans to approach the match:
How will Ukraine play in your opinion tomorrow?
“The path taken, what the ranking says, is that Ukraine has the same points as Italy, there are no favorites. The coach of Ukraine has prepared the match in the best way and I expect an offensive match on their part, he has a way of working with the open football teams, he gives quality as a coach. This can be read in the analysis of the matches played by Ukraine.”
Is it better to have a small centre-forward or a big center-forward?
“I try to give you a wider hand… There will be 4-5 changes, but that’s all I’ll tell you”
Can the first match be a reference for tomorrow’s game?
“We know through our way of being on the field since we started our habits, our thoughts. We created a lifestyle that we will also bring in tomorrow night’s race. There is some attention to be made, but we have created a way of being on the field that in my opinion is very correct. Then we must always maintain the right balance, they from an offensive point of view, are very strong and therefore what becomes fundamental is to be always found in order with the defending, with preventive marking. We cannot go wrong this behavior, as happened against North Macedonia. The same thing. They in my opinion will be a bit forced to spend time to force the game, but nothing changes us, when there will be time to press them, we will do it.
Will Jorginho still be penalty taker?
“We have other players who can pull the penalties, it would be wrong to go and force Jorginho on the spot again. It would be a difficult to put him in trouble asking him to take a penalty now.”
Which Ukrainian national team player would take for his national team?
“They have a strong national team, they are doing very well abroad too. I prefer mine to those of others.”
“In general, I am happy with what is an objective assessment of what happens. In reality we have improved, we have compacted in difficulties that we have all overcome together. In overcoming them we also maintained some flaws, but I saw the guys working in a serious and compact way so we have the right spirit to face this game, without giving more weight to one thing or another. Going to score goals is always more difficult than being able to fix a defensive attitude so as not to concede too many. Getting goals is always very complicated, especially in the international field.”
What are your feelings on the eve of this game?
“This is one of those days that will make you say that I have lived my days, or they can become regrets. Such a game can give pressure, of course, but these are above all great opportunities and nothing can limit our crazy desire to go and defend the European title. We are the holders and we have a duty to go and defend it. Many of our players know that effort cost that title, so we’ll be ready.”
Why did you compliment Zenit St. Petersburg after the title win? There was already Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
“In that team there are still many players that I have coached, the coach was a footballer that I coached. The president is the same as them. I received the compliments for the victory of my championship and it seems to me the minimum going to pay back the compliments for the victory of their championship. It seems to me totally unfair to approach what was a sporting title to the conflict that there is now, a conflict that I absolutely do not agree with. I don’t know the reasons, but any conflict disagrees with me, I’m against every war. And we as an Italian people are close to all those people who then suffer within these conflicts. Above all, our thoughts go to all those families who have nothing to do with it and would just like to live their lives in peace. We are close to the families of all the people who suffer, we are close to the families who have suffered the flood these days and close to the family of Giulia Cecchettin.
Ceferin said: ‘You can’t have a European Championship without Italy.’ Is that more pressure on you?
“We entered with the difficulties, we certainly had a result that could have been different, namely that in Skopje. Even if having seen the route of Ukraine, nothing would have changed. You can lose the game with England, so we created the conditions to play this game open. But then it happened to me many times to deal with things that scared me and then facing them I got excited, this is one of them. These matches put a little pressure on you, then you go in there and you will see who has more strength and quality. The real question is, ‘Can we do it?’ And all the answers say yes. You go to play it and then you see what bread we are made of.”
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