Italy, as promised by Luciano Spalletti on the eve of the match, did not play for a draw. Italy definitely played to win. And the coach of the Squadra Azzurra was right a thousand times when he chose just such a game plan, because by trying to be content with little, you can ultimately lose it.
From the point of view of the compactness of the game, its intensity and intensity, the Italians played an excellent match. Somewhere close to ideal. Personally, I liked this particular meeting against our team performed by Squadra more than the first one in Milan, where the hosts won. Because at San Siro there were a lot of mistakes performed by the current European champions. And at the Bay Arena this marriage was practically absent from their performance.
Why did I start with laudatory odes to someone else’s team? Yes, it’s simple: against the backdrop of almost perfect work in determining a cooler and more skilled team, our team did not get lost, did not fade into the background, and did not fade into the background. Our team did almost everything in its power to solve the tournament problem. I managed not to lose. But they failed to score.
However, I would like to repeat Sergei Rebrov: our players showed a good game, I can only thank them. After such a match, after such collective actions in the performance of the “blue-yellows,” there really can be no complaints about them. They really did everything they could.
Why didn’t they do more, why didn’t they jump over their heads? And here everything is simple: read above. We played not against Malta, but against the European champions. Throughout almost the entire game, with the possible exception of the final stretch of the match (about fifteen minutes), Italy looked better. This is if you look at things objectively. And if the nominal guests had been able to translate into scored goals what they created (well, at least in the first half: chances from Chiesa and Frattesi), we would have been in a different mood after the final whistle.
Getty Images/Global Images Ukraine. Federico Chiesa was one of the best in the Italian national team
All I mean is that despite all the visible and invisible problems of the Italian national team, this team remains cooler than ours. We don’t have players of Chiesa’s level now. We may not lose to this team in character, attitude, motivation and other elements not related to skill. But we won’t surpass her in skill now. These are objective realities.
Yes, sometimes order beats class. But only in those cases when the class is deprived of motivation and this very order, when the element of surprise is inherent. Or underestimation. In our case, it so tragically happened that, like us, Italy also played its main match of the year. And they, like us, approached this main match with all responsibility.
Therefore, unfortunately, everything is natural. Italy got directly to Euro 2024, but we will have to get there through the “back door”.
Admit it, how many of you, after the Euro 2024 draw, believed that our team would leave the group with a “living” European champion and vice-champion? That’s what I’m talking about. It was a cruel coincidence of circumstances, a grimace of blind fate, that in one group there were two such strong teams, against which, with all our desire, we could oppose only fighting qualities and character.
Getty Images/Global Images Ukraine. Vitaly Mikolenko stops Nicolo Zaniolo
We didn’t lose to them twice – in our home environment, having played these “home” matches at the highest level. But on the road in both cases we naturally lost. Having gained our dues in the fights with the other participants in the selection (Macedonians and Maltese), we finished exactly in the place where we could.
And it’s very cool that until the last match day the Ukrainian national team retained its chances of direct access to the Euro. Kept the intrigue.
Let me quote Rebrov again: “We showed character, we fought for our country.” And the fact that after a draw with us the European champions rejoiced as if they had won the Euro again speaks eloquently for itself. We really forced ourselves to be respected at this level.
We really fought and did almost everything we could. Therefore, don’t even try to throw a stone at our garden: you will get change.
Now – about the most resonant episode of the match, which occurred already in added time to the second half. Of course, I’m talking about the contact between Cristante and Mudryk in the Italian team’s penalty area.
Rebrov said after the match that “emotionally this is a penalty.” I completely share his point of view. “Emotionally.” But in fact… It seemed to me – and I watched that ill-fated episode a dozen times – that the Italian nevertheless played the ball right away, and only then slightly caught Mikhail’s leg. In fact, it’s not a penalty. I repeat: in my opinion.
Why didn’t the referee in the field decide to check this episode with VAR? Well, probably because I was sure that there was no penalty. And the video assistants told him the same thing via “special communication”.
It is unlikely that in this case there is any need to look for a reason for “for the sake of” the name of Čeferin. Although, of course, the current UEFA president is still a scoundrel.
But we need to do our own thing. Our opponents for the playoffs will be determined, and we will again make plans to qualify for the Euro. If we manage to maintain the current enthusiasm and character, then we should get to the European Championship.
Let’s wait until spring.
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