European Cup 2024: Italy defends its title against Albania and Spain faces Croatia… tomorrow

Written By Mark

The Italian national football team begins the campaign to defend its title tomorrow, Saturday, when it faces its Albanian counterpart at the Signal Iduna Park stadium in Dortmund in the first round of the second group competitions of the European Nations Cup (Euro 2024), in its seventeenth edition, which begins today in Germany and continues until July 14. Next.
In a group considered the strongest ever, the Italian national team will be required to win from the beginning, after it defied expectations in the last edition when it won the title at the expense of the English national team on penalties.
The four-time world champions will return in Germany 2024, after the great disappointment that befell their fans by their absence from the Qatar 2022 World Cup after North Macedonia excluded them from the playoffs, only to find themselves once again faced with an attempt to compensate, this time under the leadership of a new coach, Luciano Spalletti, who took over the task after Roberto Mancini decided to leave. To train the Saudi national team.
The Italian national team realizes that mistakes are forbidden since its first match, which seems quite appropriate to gain the necessary confidence before its two very difficult matches against Spain and Croatia.
What increases the importance of the victory over Albania, which is competing in only the second major finals in its history, is that the top two teams in each of the six groups qualify for the quarter-finals, in addition to the four best teams in third place.
The task of retaining the continental title will not be easy at all, especially since no one was able to achieve this except the golden generation of Spain, which won the historic treble, European Cup 2008 – World Cup 2010 – European Cup 2012, and Chiesa is one of the few remaining elements of the squad that led Italy to win the title. European Cup Summer 2021.
Chiesa, along with Nicolo Barella, forms the pillar on which Spalletti relies in this tournament, but the latter’s participation in only the second official confrontation with Albania, after the first in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers (Italy won back and forth), is not decided yet, despite Spalletti’s optimism regarding the injury status of the Inter star. .
The task of the two-time champion of the tournament will not be easy against the Albanian national team, which is counting on its Brazilian coach Sylvinho and ten of its professional players in the Italian League, in addition to the audience that will fill more than half of the stands at Signal Iduna Park.
Within the same group, and at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, the Spanish national team clashes with its Croatian counterpart, led by Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric and his companions, as the date is renewed for the fourth continental finals in a row after the two sides faced off in the group stage of the 2012 editions (Spain won 1-0) and 2016 (Croatia won). 2 – 1), then the eighth final of the last edition, when the Spanish team won 5 – 3 after extra time.
Based on the latest official participation, the Spanish national team is considered a candidate to qualify after it defeated Italy and Croatia in the semi-finals (2-1) and the final (on penalties) of the European Nations League in June 2023.
By winning the continental championship in the Netherlands, the Spain national team, led by coach Luis de la Fuente, returned to the podium for the first time since winning the 2012 European Cup.
The two teams prepared for the continental finals with strong performances, as Spain defeated Andorra 5-0 thanks to a hat-trick by Mikel Oyarzabal, then defeated Northern Ireland 5-1 thanks to another goal from the Real Sociedad striker and a brace by Barcelona midfielder Pedri, who showed that he had returned to his previous level after injuries spoiled his season. .
The Spanish national team relies on many faces, led by Barcelona star Pedri, and Manchester City midfielder Rodri, who is considered by many to be the best midfielder in the world currently, in addition to captain and striker Alvaro Morata and experienced players such as Dani Carvajal, Nacho Hernandez and others.
In addition to its reliance on elements of experience and youth, the Spanish national team knows very well that history is on its side in the European Championship, in which it is participating for the 12th time in its history.
For its part, the Croatia national team participated in the European Nations Cup for the first time after secession from Yugoslavia in 1996, and in total qualified for seven editions of the continental tournament, including Euro 2024.
Over the course of its previous six participations in the European Nations Cup, the most notable successes of the Croatian national team were reaching the quarter-finals twice in the 1996 and 2008 editions, while it was eliminated from the group stage twice and from the round of 16 twice.
During his continental career, the Croatian national team played 22 matches, winning nine, drawing six and losing seven, scoring 30 goals and conceding 28 times.
In the continental qualifiers, the Croatia national team played 78 matches, winning 50, drawing 17, and losing 11 matches, scoring 148 goals against 50 goals conceded.
After the German national team opens the finals today, Friday, in Munich, against Scotland, the first round of the first group competitions will be completed tomorrow (Saturday) in Cologne, when the national teams of Hungary and Switzerland meet in a confrontation between the two teams nominated to compete for the runner-up, especially the latter, which reached the eighth final in its three participations. The last in the World Cup and reached the final 16 in the European Cup 2016, then the quarter-finals in the last edition after eliminating France in the 16th final before the campaign ended on penalties at the hands of Spain.