SENT TO LEVERKUSEN – The provocation is a thin blade, which arrives when you least expect it, on terrain that would be slippery for anyone. Because talking about football is one thing, talking about war is another, totally different plans. Approaching them is cowardly. But on the eve of Ukraine-Italy it’s this too. What happens, then, is that the provocation: «Why did you compliment Zenit on winning the championship? The Ukraine-Russia conflict had already begun”. Spalletti’s face has become more “sculpted”, if possible: «Such a question is incorrect. They complimented me on my championship victory. In that team there are still many players that I coached, the coach was a footballer that I coached. Zenit belongs to Gazprom whose president is the same as back then. It seems to me the least thing to do to reciprocate the compliments for their championship victory. It seems totally incorrect to me to compare what was a sporting title with the conflict that exists now, a conflict with which I absolutely do not agree, I am against any war”. And taking advantage of the first part of the translation, Luciano broadens the field of vision on the point: «We as the Italian people are close to all those people who then suffer in these conflicts, to all those families who would only like to live in peace. We are close to the families of all the people who suffer. This is why we are close to the families who have suffered the floods in recent days in Tuscany and close to Giulia Cecchettin’s family». Spalletti-Ukraine 1-0.
Italy, Spalletti wants to turn the page
Here, now we can talk about the pitch, the one Spalletti prefers. Clear concepts, which the Azzurri have memorized: «The ranking says that Ukraine has the same points as Italy, there are no favourites. Rebrov prepared it in the best way possible, I expect an offensive game from them. We have the right spirit, in our desire to attack and press we must never lose order and balance. This is one of those days that will make me say that I lived my days or they can become regrets or remorse. We’ll play hard». Freely based on the song of the same name by Pierangelo Bertoli.
Italy, the playoff nightmare
Tonight’s match at the BayArena will decide our future, immediately in Germany or the nightmare of the playoffs. Motivations matter, the Italian coach doesn’t need to remind them: «Nothing can limit our mad desire to go and defend the European title, many of these players know what effort it took. Fear? The question to ask yourself is: “Can I win it?” The answer is: “Yes”. This nullifies all those fears.”
Spalletti on Jorginho and the penalties
Then there’s the question of who will take the penalty, should referee Gil Manzano give us one. At the Olimpico Spalletti had said clearly that Jorginho would still be our penalty takeryesterday he adjusted the shot: «Jorginho has personality, he is used to managing the team, he has great experience. The penalty? That’s his way of beating, maybe he could have angled it a little more, he also beat it well because of how the goalkeeper had moved. But perhaps we would put him in difficulty by sending him to the spot, we will evaluate other situations.”
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