Italy-Norway Under 21, the Azzurrini must win (but it may not be enough) -

Italy-Norway Under 21, the Azzurrini must win (but it may not be enough) -

Of Carlos Passerini

The Italian team wants the quarterfinals. Nicolato's plan, the fear of the "biscuit"

The risk is there, but you don't have to think about it. Wasting mental energy on what could happen in France-Switzerland would be a serious mistake: tonight in Cluj against Norway (8.45 pm, TV on Rai1) the Azzurrini must think only and only about winning, remaining concentrated on themselves, to maximize the chances of qualifying for the quarterfinals but also to avoid having painful regrets. The last day of group D of the Under 21 European Championship will be a 90-minute thriller plus recovery. No ending is excluded, everything is wide open, the Azzurrini can pass first or be eliminated. With one game to go, the situation is this: France 6 points, Italy and Switzerland 3, Norway zero. By beating the Scandinavians, Italy would go to the quarter-finals. Unless in the other match Switzerland overcome France with a single goal difference and scoring more than 2 goals at the same time: a 3-2, as well as a 4-3 or 5-4 for the Swiss, would trigger the mechanism of the detached classification and it would send them to the quarterfinals with the French. Hence the nightmare of the "biscuit", which has already gone sideways in the past. A bad thought that shouldn't distract us though.

«We are happy with what has been done so far – admitted coach Paolo Nicolato -. We hope to move forward, improving the things we didn't do well in some part of the game. It's as I thought: this is a very difficult group, these are all matches that you can't expect to dominate from start to finish. There is great balance, with all the teams still in the running. We will adapt to Norway, there is a tactical strategy designed on purpose ». Also because the Scandinavians, despite being last in the group with zero points, still have a few chances. There won't be the phenomenon Erling Haaland, potentially of age to play in the Under 21 European Championship ("A centre-forward like him doesn't invent every day", smiled Nicolato), but Norway still remains an opponent not to be underestimated. Watch out for Ceide from Sassuolo and Botheim from Salernitana, but above all Bobb, an excellent striker, born in 2003, Manchester City's baby prodigy.

As far as training is concerned, the (outgoing) coach of the Azzurrini should confirm the eleven that beat Switzerland, with captain Tonali in the heart of the game and Pellegri-Gnonto making up the attack department. «The most beautiful Italy is yet to arrive» said the Turin centre-forward loud and clear, who was also the starting side against the Swiss, only to be replaced at half-time. «I would have liked to stay on the field to help the team – confessed the grenade – but I had taken a yellow card. The coach decided so, and it was right».

It's a compact group, that of the Azzurrini. Of quality and personality. The important thing, however, is not to repeat the resumption of the match against the Swiss, with that blackout that risked compromising everything, after the 3-0 win in the first half. We can't afford it, because the mission is twofold: to win the European Championship and conquer the Olympic pass that has been missing for 16 years. At stake is the future.

June 28, 2023 (change June 28, 2023 | 07:10)

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