Sudakov manages to win the ball high against Jorginho, then after a short dribble from the right he brings the ball flat into the middle. However, due to a deflection, Mudryk missed the ball at the second post.
After Chiesa moved into the penalty area from the left, there was great chaos in the Ukraine penalty area. A shot from Barella is blocked, ultimately there are 14 players in the box and there is a lot of fighting. However, a truly dangerous conclusion does not result.
The Italians let the ball run through their own ranks for a long time, but they couldn’t get through against the deep Ukrainians. At least the yellow and blue can now somewhat limit Squadra Azzurra’s chances.
Konoplya can get started with a long ball to the right side. However, his subsequent flat cross finds no taker as no teammate has yet crossed into the penalty area.
Ukraine is now hardly able to provide any relief. Dovbyk can hold onto a long ball well, but then the attack comes to nothing.
Italy is close to scoring the first goal. Chiesa is sent to the baseline on the left, triggered by a one-two with Dimarco. The Juventus player gives the ball flat and sharply inside, but the sliding Raspadori narrowly misses it. None of the defenders had been able to follow.
There is almost the next opportunity, but Dimarco is offside when he passes to the right in the box. Spalletti’s team is very variable, with players always appearing in positions where you wouldn’t expect them.
Frattesi has a great chance to take the lead! Chiesa sends the well-started midfielder into the box on the left from a central position. He then looks for the flat finish from an eleven-meter half-left position, but fails because Trubin, who has come out well, is blocked by his foot.
Dimarco brings in a corner from the left, Di Lorenzo can prevail in the six-yard box. However, the header from a six-meter central position poses no danger.
Incidentally, contrary to expectations, Ukraine sometimes plays with a five-man chain, in which Mykolenko moves into a position and Zinchenko plays at left back. Situationally, the Arsenal player sticks forward and in the middle.
Mudryk wants to pick up the pace on the left after an unsuccessful header defense from Acerbi. However, he doesn’t put the ball in front of him enough and it bounces out of bounds.
Every now and then the yellow-blues manage to throw in periods of possession of their own. However, the Squadra Azzurra is already in a very good position and can no longer be combined as with some previous counterattacks.
So far it’s been a very interesting and fast-paced game that more than lives up to its final status. Ukraine is lower, but has already become dangerous. Italy can by no means be sure that this will end well here today.
Dimarco passes a corner from the right to Raspadori, who crosses from the edge of the penalty area to the second post. Di Lorenzo climbs up there, but can’t press the ball properly. This way there is no dangerous conclusion.
First a corner from the left and the subsequent rebound brings Raspadori into the middle with very sharp crosses. The defense was able to clear twice, but those were fine crosses that could certainly cause danger.
Dovbyk is almost able to run a long ball, but then Donnarumma is there from his box. However, he almost goes under the bouncing device, but gets there with his head and then his defense can clear.
The Italians take a corner from the left again briefly, so Barella gets to the ball in a central position. However, his hard shot from 25 meters was too unplaced, so Trubin was able to deflect it to the side. The keeper has to parry that too.
Donnarumma saves! In a central position, Sudakov has plenty of space after a short pass from Tsygankov. From a central position of 20 meters he then shoots low to the left corner, but the Italian goalkeeper is quickly down and can fish the ball away. Then the defense clears up.
The yellow-blues combine bravely at the back and so there is an opportunity to counter. Mudryk is sent on the left, who can penetrate the penalty area and then leave Di Lorenzo standing. However, his cross found no taker at the back post, even though the Ukrainians had the majority there. However, no player got a decisive header.
The nominal guests have slowly but surely taken control of the game, letting the ball run through their own ranks and then looking for depth at certain points. This suits Ukraine, as they are better known for their counterattacks. As the playing time increases, they will also have to become active.
Yellow card for Alessandro Buongiorno (Italy)
On the right side, Buongiorno almost loses a running duel against Tsygankov and therefore works him hard with his arms. The Ukrainian ultimately falls and the central defender is immediately warned for the tactical offense.
Italy is almost in the lead! A short corner from the left is then hit long onto the second post. Zaniolo climbs up there and brings the play equipment into the middle again with his head. From a seven meter central position, Chiesa can finish with a dropkick, but hits the ball just over the crossbar. You can actually do that.
In the half-left position, Tsygankov has a lot of space and shoots from 25 meters after he had already been able to make a few meters unchallenged. Donnarumma can safely hold on to his central attempt.
When Frattesi passes on the right, Raspadori is there. It is signaled for offside, but the linesman loses his flag. After a short break you can continue.
Right from the start it’s wild back and forth, on the one hand Mudryk can’t find Dovbyk, who’s taking off. On the other side, Dimarco crosses from the left, but both Zaniolo and Raspadori are prevented from finishing at the far post.
Then the ball starts rolling and after a short delay it starts. The Ukrainians toasted.
At this moment the teams enter the pitch together with referee Jesus Gil Manzano from Spain. The game can begin in a few minutes.
The statistics clearly speak for the big favorite. Ukraine has never won against Italy, and the Squadra Azzurra have won in all competitive games. Another disadvantage is the venue, the Yellow-Blues have to play out of the country due to the Russian war of aggression, today in Leverkusen. Coach Rebrov also said before the game that he didn’t have to motivate anyone in his team given the current situation and that they would also play for peace. We can look forward to an exciting finale.
However, this also applies to the Italians, who recently managed a turbulent 5-2 win against their feared opponents North Macedonia. The Squadra Azzurra would qualify with a draw, but playing on that is very risky. After missing the 2022 World Cup, the pressure for the reigning title holder is huge. After all, the loser of today’s duel would still have a chance at the European Championship ticket in the play-offs in March. As is well known, Italy has not had such good experiences with this.
All or nothing, that is the motto of this game. Like Italy, Ukraine has 13 points, but only one of the two teams can secure second place at the end of the day and thus qualify for the European Championships in Germany next year. Schowto-blakytni, the yellow-blues, have to win due to the slightly worse starting situation. However, they have recently shown themselves to be in good form with victories over North Macedonia and Malta.
To start, let’s take a look at the lineups. Ukraine coach Serhiy Rebrov is making four changes compared to the last game. Konoplya, Svatok, Tsygankov and Stepanenko come in for Karavayev, Matvienko, Sydorchuk and Vanat. This leaves a similar basic formation in 4-1-4-1 with Zinchenko, who will act both as a sixth man next to Stepanenko and as an eighth alongside Sudakov. On the other hand, Italy coach Luciano Spalletti is also rotating in four positions. Darmian, Gatti, Bonaventura and Berardi will be replaced by Di Lorenzo, Buongiorno, Frattesi and Zaniolo. The inclusion of Buongiorno from FC Turin for central defense was quite surprising; the other changes were to be expected.
Welcome to the 8th and final matchday of the European Championship qualification, in Group C Ukraine and Italy face each other in the final showdown. Kick-off at the BayArena in Leverkusen is at 8:45 p.m.!