Giacomo Bonaventura says Italy must be fearless in crucial Euro 2024 qualifiers

By Sports Desk November 16, 2023

Italy midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura says they cannot allow the pressure of their fragile Euro 2024 qualification hopes to affect performances.

After defeat to Group C leaders England last time out, Luciano Spalletti’s side sit third, three points behind Ukraine – whom they face in their final game – with a match in hand.

But first they must get past North Macedonia, a country they have not beaten in their last three meetings and who famously won a play-off 1-0 in Palermo in March last year to end Italy’s hopes of making the World Cup.

Although Italy would have the fall-back of another play-off if they fail to overhaul Ukraine, it is something they are desperate to avoid.

“We must not burden ourselves with too much pressure, fear or worry,” Bonaventura told Raisport.

“On the pitch you have to make decisions quickly and this is something that only works well when you are calm and serene.

“Two tough games await us. It is important to start well against Macedonia to send a message, taking advantage of our quality.

“It won’t be a walk in the park, we are obliged to win, which is never easy.”

Spalletti’s defensive options worsened on Thursday when Alessandro Bastoni was sent back to Inter Milan for further treatment after reporting a calf muscle problem.

Roma vice-captain Gianluca Mancini was called up as cover as the Italy coach is already without injured defenders Rafael Toloi, Giorgio Scalvini, Destiny Udogie and Davide Calabria and the suspended Giovanni Di Lorenzo.

Federico Gatti or Alessandro Buongiorno will likely replace Bastoni in the side. Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi has also been drafted in as a precaution with Guglielmo Vicario suffering a minor fever.

Reports suggest when the team arrives in Rome, Spalletti will meet Francesco Totti to put an end to their feud stemming back to 2017 when he was Roma coach and the local hero’s 19-year spell at the club ended somewhat ignominiously as a substitute for most of the campaign.

“I’m happy to talk to him again, to be able to call him again because when I had him as a coach he was a source of inspiration for me, as a footballer he showed me important things on the passing lines full of creativity and imagination,” Spalletti said earlier this week.

Aberdeen striker Bojan Miovski insists there is no pressure on North Macedonia as they prepare to face two of Europe’s elite in Italy and then England.

“We have no pressure and in the last few games we have achieved excellent results against Italy,” he told a press conference.

“The next matches will allow us to understand what level we are at, and I think this is the right time.”

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