Reigning champions Italy are preparing for a decisive qualifier with Ukraine for a place at Euro 2024
Reigning titleholders Italy are preparing for a decisive qualifier with Ukraine for a place at Euro 2024, while former winners the Netherlands and 2016 semi-finalists Wales are also aiming to bespeak their tickets to the tests in Germany. The last two rounds of qualifying matches take place over the coming week, and a aggregate of 12 countries will secure their spots in coming month’s draw in Hamburg for the event to go with nine who are formerly guaranteed to be there.
International heavyweights Spain, France, England, Belgium and Portugal have formerly qualified along with hosts Germany, Turkey, Scotland and Austria for the 24- nation tests which will run June 14 to July 14 coming time.
Italy, who beat England on penalties at Wembley in the final of the last European Championship in 2021 to claim the title for the alternate time, still have work to do to avoid missing another major event.
Having failed to qualify for either of the last two World Mugs, there’s a peril the Azzurri won’t be in Germany to defend their title after a qualifying crusade during which trainer Roberto Mancini quit either side of defeats home and down to England.
Yet the equation is simple for the platoon now counseled by Luciano Spalletti– whatever happens when they face North Macedonia in Rome on Friday, win against Ukraine in Germany coming Monday and they will qualify.
A draw against Ukraine will serve if they beat North Macedonia first. Lose their last game, on the other hand, and Ukraine will progress to the tests rather, while Italy will drop into the play- offs coming March which will determine the final three qualifiers.
That’s a script they will desperately want to avoid, having failed to qualify for the 2018 and 2022 World Mugs after losing play- off ties to Sweden and North Macedonia independently.
“We’ve to handle the fear. It’ll be there by our side as we go,” indicated Spalletti this week when asked about the high stakes facing his platoon in the Group C homestretch.
Meanwhile, there appears little prospect of the Netherlands failing in their shot to join France in qualifying from GroupB.
A palm at home to the Republic of Ireland in Amsterdam on Saturday will do the job for Ronald Koeman’s side. And if they slip up, they will have another chance when they face Gibraltar on Tuesday.
Assuming they do wrap up qualification, that will leave Euro 2004 winners Greece to settle for a place in the play- offs, as determined by their performances in the last UEFA Nations League.
Wales have recovered from a wobble as they acclimatize to life without Gareth Bale and are now hopeful of securing a spot at a third successive Euro tests.
Rob Page’s side appeared up against it in Group D following defeats by Armenia and Turkey in June, but a 2- 1 palm over Croatia in Cardiff last month, when Harry Wilson scored doubly, has left them with qualification in their own hands.
A palm in Armenia on Saturday, and another at home to formerly- good Turkey three days latterly, will take them through.
“The mindset we have got is we can get a result against anyone. We have shown that,” said Wales captain Ben Davies.
Croatia are ready to take advantage of any slip- up by the Welsh, but else the 2018 World Cup runners- up, and 2022semi-finalists, will have to try again in the play- offs.
Other nations poised to qualify include Denmark, Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia and Slovakia, while Albania are set to go to a alternate Euro in three editions.
They need just a draw down to minnows Moldova on Friday in order to qualify from Group E, in which Robert Lewandowski’s Poland look likely to miss out.