Across Europe, it’s time for people to return to work at the end of the summer holidays, and for Italy, it’s back in business, less than eight weeks after winning Euro 2020 at Wembley.
Sixty-three days after the joy of beating England on penalties on a feverish night in London, Azure will praise his own supporters while playing against Bulgaria in Florence in the World Cup qualifiers.
Roberto Mancini’s side cannot afford to rest on their laurels because unless they qualify for the final in Qatar, they will not be able to completely erase the memory of their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. ۔
Italy are unbeaten in 34 games – including winning their first three qualifiers for Qatar in March – and now have three more matches in eight days, including a trip to Switzerland and a home meeting with Lithuania.
“I want the boys to get up from where they left off,” Mansi said this week. “As a national team we can improve between now and the World Cup, but first we have to qualify.”
As Italy is well aware, the World Cup is a different ball game for the Euros, and not just because the next match is in November and December 2022.
Of the 10 qualifying groups, only the winners are guaranteed to qualify, with the remaining three places reaching the playoffs next March.
Italy’s game against Switzerland in Basel on Sunday will be their biggest rival in Group C.
Currently the biggest European names to work with are the Netherlands and Germany, two powerhouses that go in the fall with new coaches.
Hansi Falak is Germany’s new in-charge after 15 years under Joachim Loew.
He has been a longtime supporter of Falak Lou and, after winning the Champions League with Bayern Munich, is the man to restore the pride of the national team that was knocked out of Euro 2020 in the last 16.
“I’m looking forward to working with him,” said Byron and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. “I have big goals. I want to be a world champion.”
Germany’s last qualifier under Lewis ended in March with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Northern Macedonia, their first loss in World Cup qualifying being the third in Group J in 20 years.
Although the start of the skies looks soft, Liechtenstein, Armenia and Iceland are playing with Germany.
The Netherlands, who also failed to qualify for the last World Cup, sacked Frank de Boer and re-appointed Louis van Gaal after being knocked out of Euro 2020 in the last 16.
The man who led Orange to the 2014 World Cup semi-finals now leads a team that is one point behind Group G leaders Turkey.
This could be a challenging start for 70-year-old Van Gaal’s third term as national coach, as the Netherlands will play Norling in the Netherlands in Oslo before hosting Montenegro and Turkey.
For England, this is to put the pain of their Euro-final defeat behind them as they face potential losses in Hungary and Poland, both sides of the home match with Minos Andorra.
“There is no doubt that these players individually are getting better and will continue to get better,” England manager Gareth Southgate said after naming a squad that is very different from the youth group participating in Euro 2020. Less has changed.
Etter completed his transfer back to Manchester United, with Cristiano Ronaldo having the chance to become an all-time international goal scorer when Portugal play Ireland.
Ronaldo equaled Iran’s Ali Dai’s record of 109 goals for his country during the European Championship.
After a disappointing Euro 2020, incumbent world champion France returned to business in a triple header, including a testing tour of Ukraine.
European teams have been spared controversy over the release of players from clubs that have threatened to block future matches in Africa and South America.
VAR, meanwhile, will now be used in all European qualifiers when its implementation was initially postponed.