UEFA has confirmed Russia will not be included in next month's qualifying draw for the 2024 European Championship.

Russia has been exiled by FIFA and UEFA following February's invasion of Ukraine, with the country's national teams and clubs banned from competing in any continental or international competitions.

UEFA confirmed ahead of the 2022-23 season that Russian clubs would be excluded from competing in their tournaments this season, although Euro 2024 was not mentioned in the previous update.

However, while confirming the procedure for the qualifying draw that will take place on October 9, UEFA has now confirmed Russia will not be among the 53 teams drawn.

"All Russian teams are currently suspended following the decision of the UEFA Executive Committee of February 28, 2022 which has further been confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on July 15, 2022. Russia is therefore not included in the UEFA European Football Championship 2022-24 qualifying draw," a statement read.

Germany, hosts of Euro 2024 and automatic qualifiers, will also not be in next month's draw, which will produce seven groups of five teams and three groups of six teams.

The 53 participating teams are seeded according to the overall 2022-23 Nations League rankings and divided into seven pots, with the 10 group winners and runners-up qualifying for the tournament.

Playoffs will decide the final three qualification spots for Euro 2024, which is scheduled to begin on June 14, 2024.

A senior German official has written to UEFA to request both Russia and Belarus are excluded from next month's qualifying draw for Euro 2024.

Following February's invasion of Ukraine, FIFA and UEFA issued a joint statement to confirm that Russia and Belarus, who are supporters of Vladimir Putin's regime, will be banned from competitions "until further notice".

That was followed up an update in May, where UEFA announced Russian clubs would be banned from continental competitions for the 2022-23 season, with Russia also excluded from the Women's Euros.

However, the European Championships in 2024, due to be held in Germany, were not mentioned in UEFA's most recent update.

That has led German federal minister of the interior Nancy Faeser, who oversees sport in her role, to write to UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin to call for both nations to be excluded from the qualifying draw, due to take place on October 9. UEFA did not comment on the matter but did confirm receipt of the letter.

German publication Der Spiegel carries reported quotes from the letter, which they say states: "Not only Russia, which is waging a war of aggression in violation of international law, but also Belarus as an essential supporter of the Russian leadership should be excluded from all international football matches and tournaments."

Faeser adds UEFA should include "the suspension of Russian and Belarusian officials from the influential bodies of international sports federations", as football must "live up to its responsible role and show a united stance against this form of disregard for human rights".

"All those responsible must be deprived of any possibility of sporting participation, influence or other representation."

The letter follows on from requests from Ukrainian Association of Football president Andriy Pavelko, who also requested Russia be excluded from next month's draw.

Ukrainian Association of Football president Andriy Pavelko has urged UEFA to omit Russia from qualifying for the 2024 European Championships.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, UEFA and FIFA jointly decided that all Russian teams, both international and clubs, would be suspended from their competitions until further notice.

That ban continues into the 2022-23 season, but Russia will be able to play friendly matches, having arranged a controversial clash with Bosnia and Herzegovina on the eve of the World Cup in Qatar.

Bosnia have faced backlash for agreeing to that game, including from current players Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko, with Pavelko also revealing he is doing "everything he can" to stop the game from going ahead.

In regard to qualifying for Euro 2024, the draw will be held on October 9 and Pavelko is determined for Russia to be excluded.

"UEFA's decision formally applies only to official competitions - therefore, it allows Russian football officials to negotiate the possible holding of friendly matches, but the Ukrainian Football Association immediately reacts to such attempts," he said in a statement.

"Recently we wrote letters to FIFA and UEFA with the demand to cancel the match between Russia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, scheduled for November 19.

"We also appealed to the association of Bosnia and Herzegovina, urging them to stand in solidarity with the entire civilised football world and refuse to participate in this match.

"There was also an appeal from our football legends to the players and coaches of the Bosnian national team to refuse to hold the match.

"An official decision has not yet been made regarding this game. But we are doing everything possible to prevent the match from taking place.

"We are taking similar actions in relation to the two friendly matches of the women's teams of Serbia U-17 and Russia U-17 in October.

"We are also currently making efforts at the UEFA level, the purpose of which is to prevent Russia from participating in the Euro 2024 selection draw, which is scheduled to take place on October 9 in Frankfurt.

"The aggressor country cannot be represented in competitions where the national teams of countries, unlike the Russian Federation, respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other states who participate."

Pavelko added that Russia should remain "completely isolated on the international stage, including football" until they "stop committing crimes" and compensate Ukraine for damages.

Over seven decades on the throne, the Queen oversaw a number of major events – not least in the sporting world.

Sport was a significant feature of Her Majesty's 70-year reign, from attending events to handing over trophies, most famously in 1966 when England lifted the World Cup at Wembley.

Following the announcement of her passing on Thursday, Stats Perform looks at the major sporting events that coincided with prominent milestones throughout the Queen's reign.

 

The Queen's Coronation, 1953

Princess Elizabeth was officially crowned Queen on June 2, 1953, a year after the death of her father George VI. Aged just 25, her ascension to the throne took place amid a glittering ceremony at Westminster Abbey. In the sporting world, Alberto Ascari won the Formula One championship for a second successive year shortly after the historic moment. He remains one of only two Ferrari drivers to have won multiple titles, along with the great Michael Schumacher, while no Italian has triumphed since. This was also the year Ken Rosewall, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, won the first of his eight grand slam titles with victory at the Australian Open, aged just 18. Incredibly, the last of those major triumphs arrived 21 years after his maiden success at Wimbledon in 1974.

The Silver Jubilee, 1977

The Queen's Silver Jubilee marked the 25th anniversary of her accession and was celebrated by millions throughout the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Known for her love of horse racing, Her Majesty would no doubt have had a watching eye on that year's Grand National, won that year for an unprecedented third time by Red Rum – a record that stands to this day. A week on from that event, Tom Watson edged out Jack Nicklaus in a thrilling conclusion to the Masters, and he did likewise later in the year when coming out on top at The Open.

The Golden Jubilee, 2002

The Queen's 50-year anniversary on the throne coincided with a bumper year of sport, the highlight being the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan – the first time the football showpiece had been held outside of the Americas or Europe – which was won by Brazil for a fifth time. While the World Cup, Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games garnered plenty of attention, that year's must-see one-off event was Lennox Lewis' heavyweight bout with Mike Tyson in Tennessee, with the Briton winning by knockout in the eighth round.

The Diamond Jubilee, 2012

The London Olympics was the biggest sporting event on home soil during the Queen's lifetime – bigger even than England's famous World Cup triumph of 1966 – and coincided with her Diamond Jubilee. The Games were a massive success, particularly for Great Britain, and proved one of many highlights in a remarkable sporting year. Europe produced one of the Ryder Cup's greatest ever comebacks in what is now known as 'The Miracle at Medinah', while Spain thrashed Italy 4-0 to win Euro 2012. Perhaps bigger than all that, though, was the news that Lance Armstrong had been banned from cycling for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after being found to have used performance-enhancing drugs over the course of his career.

The Sapphire Jubilee, 2017

Sixty-five years is a long time, with this Jubilee making the Queen the first British monarch to hit the Sapphire milestone. Sergio Garcia's wait for a first major would have felt just as long, the Spaniard claiming victory in a sudden-death play-off with Justin Rose at the Masters in what was his 74th major. The conclusion to that tournament provided drama aplenty, yet it was nothing compared to that year's Super Bowl as the New England Patriots recovered from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in the largest comeback in the showpiece's history. It also remains the only Super Bowl to be decided in overtime.

Gareth Bale insisted Major League Soccer is "not a retirement league", and he hopes his move to Los Angeles FC will allow him to stay in contention for Wales at least until Euro 2024.

While his initial deal with LAFC is only a one-year agreement, it could be extended through to 2024, when Wales will be hoping to compete in the European Championship.

Bale left Real Madrid at the end of June after his contract was allowed to expire, with the forward – who was once the most expensive player of all time – enduring a difficult final few years at the Santiago Bernabeu.

His attitude and commitment to Madrid were often called into question by supporters, who routinely voiced their frustration towards him in recent years.

But Bale has continued to be worshipped by Wales supporters, and he more than played his part in helping them secure qualification to the World Cup for the first time since 1958 earlier this year.

Keeping himself fit ahead of Qatar 2022 is undoubtedly a key reason for the move to MLS, although Bale was eager to stress how he sees the potential for a long-term future in the United States.

While MLS has garnered a reputation for being a league where high-profile European players go to retire, Bale is adamant that is no longer the case.

"Like I said, this is a league that's really grown, that's come a long way in the last 10 years," he told reporters at his official presentation on Monday.

"Everyone's striving to improve the league, the players who come over see that as well. I don't think anyone sees it now as a retirement league, it's really a league that's physical, demanding; the weather changes are difficult, the travel is difficult.

"But it's exciting, and to play football in front of fans like these is what you play football for."

Bale's new club were only founded in 2014, debuting in MLS in 2018, but have since gone on to make a real impression on the sport in North America, even reaching the final of the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League.

Many were surprised by Bale's decision to head for the States given he reportedly had offers from English clubs and boyhood team Cardiff City, but he is convinced the European perception of MLS is outdated.

"I've watched MLS for a long time," he said. "Obviously the time difference makes it difficult, but whenever I could watch I'd try to catch it on the TV.

"The standard is really increasing, it's a lot better than people in Europe really think.

"The quality is improving, the league is improving, the stadiums are improving, the teams are improving.

"It's a league really on the rise. Yes, it's a new club, but it feels like it's been here forever. The job Larry [Freedman] and John [Thorrington, co-presidents] and rest of the team here have done to create such an amazing fanbase so quickly is remarkable.

"It's testament to how well the club is run, and I'm happy to be a part of it.

"To have my first training session today was amazing, the first step in hopefully a long journey."

Jack Grealish, Harry Kane and a host of other stars have congratulated England's Young Lions after they won the 2022 European Under-19 Championship.

Ian Foster's side came from behind against Israel in Friday's final in Slovakia to win 3-1 after extra-time, five years after their last triumph in the tournament.

Callum Doyle's second half finish cancelled out Oscar Gloch's opener, before young Aston Villa duo Carney Chukwuemeka and Aaron Ramsey sealed the deal in an extended final half-hour.

It marked the second comeback win on the trot after the Young Lions were forced to recover against Italy in their semi-final.

Their triumph however has been roundly celebrated by senior stars, including former Villa man Grealish, who broke through at Euro 2020 with England following his final season with the club.

"Get in there boys! [A] massive well done to everyone involved!" the Manchester City winger wrote on Twitter.

Three Lions captain Harry Kane also offered his congratulations, adding: "Brilliant lads. Well done and enjoy the celebrations."

Several members of the winning squad will harbour ambitions of breaking into the senior set-up in the coming years, with Mason Mount and Aaron Ramsdale among those who won in 2017 to have since become full England internationals.

They were the unlikeliest of all European champions and to this day remain the poster boys for all underdogs.

Denmark, the Euro 92 winners, gave hope to generations of teams that would follow them onto the big stage.

How could a nation with a population of a little over five million in 1992 sweep away the competition, when that competition looked so formidable?

Michel Platini's France squad boasted Papin, Cantona, Deschamps, Blanc and Boli; Germany had Klinsmann, Hassler, Moller and World Cup final match-winner Brehme; the Netherlands fielded Van Basten, Gullit, Rijkaard and a young Bergkamp.

Nobody was tipping Denmark, who were called into the tournament 10 days before it began after the expulsion of Yugoslavia, a decision taken by UEFA amid war in the Balkans.

Denmark have given hope to teams who logically should have none. This hope has often been outrageously misplaced. The notion that 'if Denmark can do it, so can we' is a fallacy. The Danes opened the door and fantasists walked through.

The 1992 Denmark team were a band of brothers who seized their unexpected opportunity, facing on-field and off-field challenges along the way. Thirty years since the June 26 final, we celebrate them.

HOW ON EARTH DID THEY DO IT?

There was little indication of what was to come when Denmark followed a 0-0 draw against England by losing 1-0 to hosts Sweden; however, a 2-1 victory over France in Malmo snapped the watching continent to attention.

Peter Schmeichel. John Jensen. Brian Laudrup. Kim Vilfort. Torben Piechnik. The football world knew about goalkeeper Schmeichel, a year into his Manchester United career, and Laudrup was Denmark's star outfielder. But many in their side were barely known outside Denmark. Twelve of their 20 still played in the Danish league.

Michael Laudrup was in international exile, after he and Brian quit the national team in late 1990, unimpressed with new coach Richard Moller Nielsen. Brian came back shortly before the Euros, but Barcelona forward Michael continued to give international football a swerve. Denmark got by without him.

"We were very fortunate that we were one group of people who felt like pioneers in Danish football," Schmeichel told UEFA.com. "We felt we had responsibility to break the waves and go against the tide and prove to everyone that we can compete."

He said it was a "myth" that the Danes had been summoned from the beach, not least because the Danish season was still in full swing.

It was "like a funeral" in the Denmark dressing room after the England stalemate, according to Schmeichel.

"But from that moment on we felt we were definitely in a position where we can compete in this tournament," he said.

SLAYING THE GIANTS

In an eight-team tournament, scraping through in second place from Group 1 meant the Danes went straight into a semi-final.

Getting the better of the Netherlands looked beyond Denmark, given the defending champions were so strong.

Both teams knew Germany were waiting in the final, having got the better of Sweden 3-2 in the first semi-final. The Netherlands had beaten Germany in the group stage, but their hopes of a second clash with Berti Vogts' side were to be shattered in Gothenburg.

Henrik Larsen's double either side of a Bergkamp strike almost gave the Danes victory in 90 minutes, but Frank Rijkaard grabbed a late leveller. When it came to penalties, Schmeichel's save from Marco van Basten made all the difference, every other player scoring from the spot as Kim Christofte sealed the shoot-out success.

In an interview at the FIFA Best awards in 2022, Schmeichel recalled how he had found inspiration in the national team from a young age.

"I have to go back to even 1984 when Denmark lost to Spain in the semi-finals of the Euros," Schmeichel said.

"I was in the generation that came after that and [took] the inspiration from that, and the understanding that even though we are from a small country with a limited number of people playing football, if you work hard and look for your luck, and we always produce skilful players, then there is an opportunity to create very, very good results."

Denmark were winning their battles on the pitch, but the most important struggle was being fought away from the spotlight, with Vilfort's young daughter Line battling leukaemia.

He missed the France game to be with his family in Copenhagen but returned to Sweden before the semi-final. A movie dramatisation of Denmark's great triumph that summer portrayed Line telling her father he should go back and join his team-mates.

Come the June 26 final against Germany, the Danes were not alone in thinking the improbable might just be possible.

At the Ullevi stadium, Germany began strongly but were caught out in the 18th minute when Jensen sent a sizzling strike past Bodo Illgner.

Schmeichel and his defence defied Germany, and in the 78th minute came a magical moment for Vilfort when he found space between Brehme and Thomas Helmer before sending a low left-footed shot in off the right post, sealing a 2-0 win.

Schmeichel said Denmark's achievement came "from not accepting we're a small country".

"If we get the right circumstances, we can go and do whatever job we want to do, so it's more a mentality thing," he said. "I think that, more than anything, was why we won the European Championship. It was magical and unexpected."

Coach Moller Nielsen later reflected on his sudden change of plans for June 1992.

Moller Nielsen, who died in 2014, was quoted by UEFA as saying: "I was supposed to fit a new kitchen [in my house] but then we were called away to play in Sweden. The kitchen is finished now. I got a professional decorator to do it."

From a hospital bed, Line Vilfort got to see her father lead Denmark to the country's greatest footballing success.

She died a few weeks later, at the age of seven. Dad was a national hero, but this would be the cruellest of final chapters in the story of these great Danes, a personal tragedy amid a summer-long national celebration.

Kylian Mbappe denied he almost quit France duty due to criticism of his Euro 2020 displays, revealing it was racist abuse that almost pushed him to retire from Les Bleus.

French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet told Le Journal du Dimanche that Mbappe was angry and did not want to play for his country again after facing flak from angry fans.

The 23-year-old failed to score in any of his four outings in last year's competition, with France surprisingly eliminated by Switzerland in the last 16.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe missed the decisive spot-kick as the reigning world champions suffered a shock defeat on penalties following a 3-3 draw after extra time.

Mbappe responded to Le Graet's comments by saying on Twitter: "Yes, however, I explained to him clearly that it was in relation to racism and NOT to the penalty. But he considered that there had been no racism..."

As the young figurehead of the France team, Mbappe faced stiff criticism as he struggled to make an impact on the tournament.

Le Graet said in Sunday's newspaper interview: "I met with him after the Euros. He felt that the federation had not defended him after his missed penalty and the criticism he faced on the networks.

"We met for five minutes in my office. He was angry, he didn't want to play for the French team any more – which he obviously didn't mean.

"You know how it is; he's a winner, he was very frustrated, like all of us, by the elimination. He's so media-friendly. He's a great guy."

Mbappe has gone on to play a further nine times for France since last year's disappointing Euro 2020 showing, helping his country to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. He has scored 27 goals in 57 senior appearances for his country.

A study has shown that over 55 per cent of players who featured in the finals of Euro 2020 and this year's Africa Cup of Nations were abused online.

The independent report, released by FIFA five months prior to the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, identified that homophobic and racist comments were the two main areas of concern.

Over 400,000 social media posts were examined, spread across Twitter and Instagram, and 541 cases of direct discrimination or other forms of abuse were discovered.

The majority of hate comments were found to have originated from the home countries of targeted players, with 38 per cent having been made in the United Kingdom.

The study showed that 40 per cent of abusive messages contained homophobic content, and 38 per cent were racist. A further three per cent were categorised as containing a threat, while 58 per cent of the racist remarks were found to be still visible online in April 2022, with 87 per cent of non-racist abuse also still live.

The report comes after England players Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford received racist abuse online after missing in the Euro 2020 final penalty shoot-out against Italy, which England ultimately lost.

It was revealed that 78 per cent of the abuse aimed at players involved in that game contained racist remarks.

Such abuse was heavily condemned by England manager Gareth Southgate as well as UK prime minister Boris Johnson, who vowed to take action against racist trolls. 

For the AFCON final between Senegal and Egypt, the abuse was found to be 26 per cent racist in tone, and 62 per cent homophobic.

FIFA said it would collaborate with global players' union FIFPRO to start a moderation service to monitor hate speech during upcoming tournaments, in the hope it will stop the messages being seen by the intended targets.

"Our duty is to protect football, and that starts with the players who bring so much joy and happiness to all of us by their exploits on the field of play," FIFA president Gianni Infantino said.

"We want our actions to speak louder than our words and that is why we are taking concrete measures to tackle the problem directly."

As well as the moderation tool, educational and mental health advice will be offered to players at FIFA tournaments in 2022 and 2023 to help them deal with online abuse.

England manager Gareth Southgate has labelled Germany as one of the benchmarks in international football due to their continued presence in the latter stages of major tournaments.

The Three Lions head to Munich on Tuesday for their second Nations League game, having suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat to Hungary on Saturday in their first League A Group 3 game.

Meanwhile, Germany shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw with Italy as preparations for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are stepped up.

England and Germany met only last June at Euro 2020, with Southgate's side 2-0 victors at the last-16 stage in front of a buoyant Wembley crowd.

Germany have failed to score in their past two matches against England, as many as in their previous 16 games combined.

But Southgate still views Hansi Flick's side as a force to be reckoned with looking forward to the clash at the Allianz Arena and further ahead to the World Cup in November.

"You can see elements of what he did with Bayern Munich, I think seven either current or had just left Bayern, a lot of have cohesion and experience working with him," Southgate said of Flick on Monday.

"You can see the counter-pressing and the general pressing of the forwards, we have to be prepared for that. With the ball, they have some talented players.

"We saw that in summer, I think in some respects the result in summer was overlooked, I'm not sure why. The quality of the team was still very high, World Cup winners everywhere, Champions League winners.

"Real experience of those big occasions. For me, I think Brazil and Germany are still the benchmarks for teams who have regularly won tournaments, regularly making finals, even when you look at the 5-1 here [in 2001], they ended up in the World Cup final.

"You have to respect what they are and where they are as a footballing country, we have to try and replicate that and instil that mentality.

"We have to keep getting to the latter stages of competitions and games like tomorrow are exactly what we need. I think it's a great measure for us, this will be a brilliant test of what we're about and where we're at.

"It won't define where we're at in six months' time, if we win tomorrow, it doesn't mean we are going to win the whole thing in five, six months.

"One of the challenges before was can we beat the bigger teams, we've beat Belgium, Germany and Spain, we're starting to do that so now it is can we continue to do that."

England have not come out on top in consecutive games against Germany since a seven-game winning run between 1935 and 1966, the last game of which was the World Cup final.

Southgate vowed to rotate once again after offering the likes of Jarrod Bowen and James Justin starts in Budapest.

"We are going to push. We want to perform well. We will manage their load. Everyone of them wants to play tomorrow night," he continued. 

"There is huge motivation in the group. I don't think the long season was the cause of the result the other day. The heat was a huge factor.

"To talk about the season is a psychological thing. It is no different to going into the Euros or the World Cup.

"It varies slightly from game to game, you are always trying to win. You always pick a team strong enough to win a game of football. We are trying to manage players coming back.

"To play Saturday and Tuesday is very challenging. Always trying to learn things, there's the performance and result. We go trying to win and the learnings after it is how you develop and improve as a team.

"James [Justin] won't be ready for tomorrow but we are hopeful he will be back for the next game if not the one after. Marc [Guehi] should be ready for tomorrow. Fikayo [Tomori] we could probably put him in the squad but given it's a hamstring we will give him a bit longer."

Italy will become the laughing stock of international football if they continue to hypothesise routes into the World Cup, federation president Gabriele Gravina said on Saturday.

The Azzurri failed to qualify for Qatar 2022 after losing to North Macedonia in a play-off semi-final in March, a stunning result that has caused much upset.

Former Juventus star Roberto Baggio said this week it was "shameful" that Italy were not automatically allocated a World Cup place on the basis of their Euro 2020 triumph.

There has been speculation Italy could get in through the back door if Ecuador are thrown out, after FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings into allegations the South American team fielded an ineligible player in their successful qualifying campaign.

According to Gravina, head of the FIGC, now is the time for Italy to accept their fate, however painful it might be.

"A few weeks ago we launched a new way of working," Gravina told Italy's Sky Sport. "We said that we must work trying to be, all together, focused on regaining credibility.

"We know very well that it is not easy, and we know that there are critical issues, but credibility is linked to a very delicate phase, that is to eliminate everything that makes us not very credible.

"Allow me also to clarify the issue of World Cup repechage, which is making us not very credible. Football has winners and losers. Italy was eliminated and did not qualify, Italy does not participate in the World Cup.

"If we have to work because we believe that the rules must be changed, we will do it later. Today, Italy's out of the World Cup.

"Let's take it for granted because otherwise we continue to say things that honestly put everyone, even internationally, in a position to make fun of us."

Speaking on Friday, Italy head coach Roberto Mancini spoke of his desire for new beginnings with Italy, whose European Championship success at last year's delayed tournament has been dampened by the failure to reach two consecutive World Cups.

"The victory of the European Championship is part of the magic that are part of those tournaments. Now we have to start again and go back to that magic," said Mancini, whose team were due in action against Germany in a Nations League game on Saturday.

"I have never had this type of problem. In football, however, when you win everyone is with you and when you lose almost everyone against you. That's how it is. The restart is from now."

Roberto Mancini vowed to start a new era with Italy as the Azzurri look to rediscover their Euro 2020 magic, but warned not to expect instant fixes as he cannot "invent players".

Italy lifted the European Championship last July, their first since 1968, with a penalty shoot-out victory over England at Wembley.

The Azzurri followed that up by failing to make a second straight World Cup, following play-off defeat to North Macedonia in March, which led to questions over coach Mancini's tenure.

Development problems were also cited with the Italian system, which was bemoaned for struggling to produce younger players for the national team with Serie A coaches reluctant to trust the youth.

Italy were 3-0 losers to Argentina in the 'Finalissima' on Wednesday, a meeting between the Euro 2020 winners and Copa America champions, and Mancini promised change after that game.

The former Manchester City coach reiterated his desire for new beginnings with Italy, although he does not expect quick solutions ahead of the Nations League opener at home to Germany on Saturday.

"The victory of the European Championship is part of the magic that are part of those tournaments. Now we have to start again and go back to that magic," he told reporters on Friday.

"I have never had this type of problem. In football, however, when you win everyone is with you and when you lose almost everyone against you. That's how it is.

"Against Argentina we paid for the loss of players, one after the other. We weren't such a huge group and the injuries affected us: Argentina were better than us, they had fresher players and maybe it's the first game in three and a half years where we find a team that has put us under pressure, even if we made two mistakes on goals in the first half.

"It takes time, we cannot invent players and we know that we will have to suffer enough.

"The restart is from now. The new cycle starts again from tomorrow.

"The common thread is the same: looking for players with quality, speed, who they will not be like [Marco] Verratti and Jorginho who played in certain teams and therefore it will take a little longer.

"If we can give some minutes to these guys who have never played in the national team, and see them integrated well, it would be better."

Italy host Germany and Hungary before visiting England on June 11, with a return trip to Hansi Flick's side three days later capping off the internationals for this month.

Mancini believes that England and Germany pose two of the toughest tasks in international football at the moment, and cited Brazil, France and Argentina among the favourites for the World Cup in Qatar.

"We face the two strongest teams at the moment, Germany and England," he added. "They are among the best, they have great players and we take a lot of risks by changing a lot, it could be a good start.

"The most important thing will be to defend well and attack better. We face one of the strongest teams in the world along with Brazil, Argentina, France...

"Germany are technical, very fast when they counter-attack and come to press. They will be among the favourites for the World Cup victory in Qatar.

"We must defend all together and attack and press as we did for three and a half years: we did it for three and a half years with players who didn't seem able to do it, yet they have done."

Roberto Baggio has labelled Italy not qualifying automatically for the World Cup for their Euro 2020 triumph as "madness".

Italy were penalty shoot-out victors against England in the Euro 2020 last July, but followed that up with World Cup play-off qualifying defeat against North Macedonia in March.

That meant the Azzurri have failed to qualify for two straight World Cups, having missed out on both Russia in 2018 and Qatar four years later.

Roberto Mancini's side met the Copa America winners Argentina on Wednesday in a match between the champions of European and South American football, but were thoroughly outclassed in a 3-0 defeat.

Argentina displayed the gulf in class between the two sides, with some suggesting Lionel Scaloni's side could be favourites for the World Cup in November.

Scaloni declared in the build-up to the 'Finalissima' that Italy deserved a World Cup spot, and Baggio echoed those sentiments by suggesting the Azzurri should have been offered automatic qualification.

"The biggest shame is that Italy didn't go straight to Qatar having won the European Championship," Italy legend Baggio said on Thursday, as quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"It is scandalous, it seems crazy to me. Will these guys have earned a reward or not? If I had been in their place I don't really know how I would have reacted...

"It's the worst thing to accept, because in a 90-minute match anything can happen, one action goes wrong and you stay at home?"

Baggio was also quick to point towards the difference in quality between Argentina and Italy at Wembley Stadium.

"Scaloni's team has great talents, but the Azzurri have suffered greatly from being eliminated from the World Cup, the psychological backlash it was enormous," he added.

"The level of calmness of the two teams on the pitch was not comparable."

Italy will hope to somewhat make amends for the Argentina loss and World Cup failure when they host Germany in their Nations League opener on Saturday.

Kevin De Bruyne says he is excited to work with "top striker" Erling Haaland at Manchester City, admitting the arrival of the 21-year-old might enable him to build on his already impressive assist figures.

De Bruyne was named Premier League Player of the Season as City won their fourth top-flight title in five seasons last month, with the midfielder top-scoring for Pep Guardiola's men with 15 league goals during the 2021-22 campaign, also adding eight assists.

Despite his impressive goalscoring return, the Belgian fell some way short of his tally of 20 Premier League assists in the 2019 -20 campaign (a joint single-season record in the competition, along with Thierry Henry in 2002-03) – but De Bruyne's attempts to record similar figures in the future could be aided by the presence of Haaland.

The striker scored 86 goals in 89 appearances for Borussia Dortmund after joining from RB Salzburg in January 2020, and is expected to thrive with De Bruyne providing him with service after agreeing a move to the Etihad Stadium.

Speaking to Belgian outlet HLN, De Bruyne said City's acquisition of Haaland was good news for both the team and himself.

"Erling Haaland is a top striker. His move should help us to grow as a team," he said.

"Everybody expects a lot. They [the club] have always been looking for a number nine, but I think it'll be good to have that striker that maybe scores 20 to 25 goals a season."

Asked whether the Norwegian's arrival would help him to up his own already outstanding creative numbers, De Bruyne added: "Maybe. There have been years that I have more assists.

"But my chance creation and other things have remained consistent. Numbers are a part of football but they never tell you the full story."

No other City player came close to the 87 chances De Bruyne created in the Premier League in 2021-22, with fellow midfielder Bernardo Silva second on 59.

Meanwhile, De Bruyne, who will turn 31 later this month, was also asked whether the upcoming World Cup in Qatar – at which Belgium will face Canada, Morocco, and Croatia in Group F – could be his last.

The midfielder, who says the Red Devils are "slightly more of an outsider" to win the tournament than they were in 2018 when they reached the semi-finals in Russia, plans on playing international football until at least Euro 2024 but will not give any assurances beyond that date.

"I will continue with the national team," he added. "I don't know how long. In any case, until the European Championship in 2024 – if bad things don't happen. 

"We'll see how I feel. Quality trumps quantity for me. 

"It is also difficult to find the perfect balance between the family and the life we lead. My wife understands that, the children occasionally. They sometimes regret that daddy cannot be there. Later they will understand."

Giorgio Chiellini bowed out of international football and warned a "difficult period" awaited Italy as Roberto Mancini bids to get the Azzurri back on track.

The joy of winning last year's delayed Euro 2020 tournament has been replaced by rapid deflation after Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup.

Having also missed out on the Russia 2018 finals, falling short of a place at Qatar 2022 represented crushing disappointment for the four-time winners.

Chiellini, the 37-year-old defensive titan who is leaving Juventus and expected to join Los Angeles FC, has called time on his Italy career.

He played the first half on Wednesday in a 3-0 defeat to Argentina at Wembley, in a match tagged as the Finalissima, a clash of the champions of Europe and South America.

"We were hoping to win the match and the trophy," Chiellini told Italian broadcaster RAI. "We knew it would be tough, but the defeat does not cancel what has gone before.

"Now I expect a difficult period. We need everyone to support this group."

Chiellini lasted just 45 minutes in his farewell game, with Italy 2-0 up by the time he departed.

This was the first staging of the CONMEBOL/UEFA 'Cup of Champions' since 1993. Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria and Paulo Dybala got the goals as Lionel Messi pulled the strings

It was a sorry way for Chiellini to go out, and he said: "It's a shame because in the first half we made a lot of mistakes and we ruined the match by ourselves."

Turning his attention to Argentina, he added: "Above all, at this moment they are too strong, they have confidence and they are a team. They look like us a year ago."

Italy, without Chiellini, will switch their focus to the Nations League. They face Germany on Saturday and again on June 14 – matches against Hungary and England are sandwiched in between.

Writing on his Instagram page, Chiellini reflected on the end of a 117-cap career.

He wrote: "Thanks to everyone, it's been a beautiful journey."

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