The Netherlands have been officially confirmed as hosts for the 2023 Nations League Finals.

The Oranje were widely expected to welcome their rivals to face them on home soil, as only them and Group A4 opponents Belgium, Poland and Wales expressed an interest in staging the knockout finale.

Having seen off the trio to qualify as group winners, the Netherlands will now welcome Croatia, Italy and Spain next year for the climax to the 2022-23 edition.

In the absence of the Johan Cruyff Arena and Philips Stadion due to concerts, the matches will be played instead at Feyenoord's De Kuip and De Grolsch Veste - the home of FC Twente.

The tournament commences with the semi-finals on June 14 and June 15, while the final and third-place play-off will take place on June 18.

The draw to determine the last-four pairings will be made at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon next January.

Argentina's World Cup hopes took a shuddering blow in their Qatar 2022 opener as they were sensationally beaten 2-1 by Saudi Arabia.

Having won the Copa America last year and embarked on a 36-match unbeaten run, La Albiceleste arrived in Qatar as one of the favourites to be crowned world champions.

Lionel Messi's penalty gave them an early lead in their first Group C match at Lusail Stadium, but second-half goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari ensured Saudi Arabia pulled off a huge upset.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at five of the other monumental World Cup shocks over the years.

Senegal 1-0 France (Korea/Japan 2002)

Perhaps the all-time upset in World Cup history, France headed to the 2002 edition four years on from a triumph on home soil with a squad brimming with talent and set on defending their crown.

Yet in the opening match, Les Bleus - without talisman Zinedine Zidane - were stunned by Senegal, the competition's lowest-ranked side, thanks to Papa Bouba Diop's first-half finish in Seoul.

France went on to finish bottom of Group A with just a draw against Uruguay to their name, and failing to score a single goal.

North Korea 1-0 Italy (England 1966)

Arriving in Europe for their first appearance at the World Cup, North Korea were widely expected to make an early exit after a defeat to the Soviet Union and a draw with Chile.

But Pak Doo-ik made history when his lone goal saw them shock two-time winners Italy at Ayresome Park in Middlesbrough.

North Korea have only been back to the World Cup once, at South Africa 2010, where they scored once and conceded a dozen, finishing bottom of Group G.

Cameroon 1-0 Argentina (Italy 1990)

This is not the first time La Albiceleste have been involved in one of the most unexpected results at a World Cup, having been stunned in the first match of their title defence over three decades ago.

Argentina arrived at Italia 90 looking to defend the crown Diego Maradona guided them to four years prior, but Francois Omam-Biyik's 67th-minute goal at San Siro left them shell-shocked.

USA 1-0 England (Brazil 1950)

Heading into their tournament debut in South America, England were fancied to make a big impact, particularly when they came up against a United States team dominated by part-timers.

But a goal for Joe Gaetjens made history for the USA, bringing England back down to earth after they started with a 2-0 win over Chile.

Walter Winterbottom's men were then on their way home after slumping to a 1-0 loss at the hands of Spain.

Northern Ireland 1-0 Spain (Spain 1982)

Fondly remembered four decades down the line, Northern Ireland's win against tournament hosts Spain ranks among the greatest in their history, as they defied the odds in Valencia.

Gerry Armstrong's goal early in the second half put then in front and although Mal Donaghy was shown a red card, Billy Bingham's team hung on to deliver an almighty upset.

Italy deserved to automatically qualify for the 2022 World Cup given their status as European champions, according to head coach Roberto Mancini.

Top seeds Italy finished second to Switzerland in their qualifying group and then suffered a shock loss to North Macedonia in March's play-off semi-final.

It means Italy have missed out on successive World Cups, having also failed to reach Russia 2018, though they did win Euro 2020 in between those qualifying disappointments.

However, Mancini insists the Azzurri should not have had to go through the qualifying process for Qatar on the back of conquering their continent last year.

"Not only the European champions but the winners in every continent," he added in an interview with Corriere Della Sera. "I am saying it for football's good. 

"Likewise, who won the title in the previous edition should always be involved. It used to be like this in the past. Football does not only make good decisions for itself."

Italy moved on from their World Cup heartbreak by advancing to next year's Nations League Finals, where they will be joined by Croatia, Spain and the Netherlands.

The longer-term aim for Mancini is to reach Euro 2024 and then the next World Cup, which will take place in the United States, Canada and Mexico a little under four years from now.

Mancini, who is under contract with the Azzurri until after that tournament, said: "I stayed because I want to take revenge [by reaching the World Cup]. 

"But right now we can't look so far ahead. The 2026 World Cup is far away. Now we must focus on the Nations League Finals and the qualification for the Euros.

"I wanted to stay to chase the World Cup, but nothing is definitive in football and things can still change. We want to go to the next World Cup and hopefully win it."

Italy lost 2-0 to Austria in a friendly on Sunday and are next in action in four months' time when hosting England in their opening Euro 2024 qualifier.

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini has conceded that his 3-4-3 formation did not work as intended against Austria, as he criticised his side's poor first half display against the hosts.

The European champions finished 2022 with defeat in Vienna, where two first half goals from Xaver Schlager and David Alaba put the hosts in control.

A poor showing in the first period was improved upon after the break, but Italy could not break Austria's defence, though Mancini believes his side did enough to deserve praise.

"We were better in the second half, in the first half we had the ball and we had to score. After that we suffered, making so many technical mistakes. In the second half, all we were missing was a goal," he said post-match.

"The formation didn't go very well, we did little pressing with the strikers conceding too many spaces.

"The team was too long, we did badly and this penalised us a bit, but in the second half I saw a very good team. We were unlucky and a bit inaccurate."

Italy are not scheduled to be back in action until March, where the defence of their European crown begins with the first qualifying match against England in a rematch of the 2020 final.

David Alaba scored a stunning free-kick as Austria swept past Italy in comfortable fashion with a 2-0 friendly victory on Sunday.

On the day the World Cup started in Qatar, two nations who failed to qualify for the tournament locked horns at Ernst-Happel-Stadion.

Austria came out the blocks flying and Xaver Schlager gave them an early lead before Alaba fired home a fierce free-kick to double the advantage before the break.

Roberto Mancini made numerous changes at the break, but it did not change the European champions' fortunes as they were beaten in Viennna.

The hosts took the lead after just six minutes, Schlager winning possession from Marco Verratti and exchanging passes with Marko Arnautovic before smashing a shot past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Austria continued to apply the pressure, Nicolas Seiwald and Junior Adamu firing efforts off target, the latter then striking the post after Francesco Acerbi failed to clear the ball away.

Ten minutes before the interval, Austria's assault on the Italy goal paid off again when Alaba thundered an unstoppable free-kick from 20 yards in off the crossbar.

The second half began in the same fashion as the first, Marcel Sabitzer forcing two fine saves from Donnarumma, while Italy offered little until Giacomo Raspadori tested Heinz Lindner from close range.

Italy continued to dominate possession but could not pose enough of a threat in the final third, as Ralf Rangnick's side saw out another victory.

Roberto Mancini has tipped Argentina to win their third World Cup as Lionel Messi and team-mates chase glory in Qatar.

Mancini's Italy side will not be involved after a shock 1-0 play-off defeat to North Macedonia in March.

Italy's absence from Qatar comes despite them being the reigning European champions, having beaten England on penalties in the Euro 2020 final.

That triumph subsequently saw them face off against Argentina in the UEFA/CONMEBOL Finalissima at Wembley in June, after Lionel Scaloni's men won the Copa America.

Argentina comfortably beat Italy 3-0, and Mancini says that performance plays a part in him ranking them as favourites for the World Cup.

"There are many strong teams," Mancini told reporters. "If I had to choose one, I'd go for Argentina.

"They really impressed when we played each other."

Italy have won their last three matches as they look to get over World Cup disappointment, most recently seeing off Albania in a 3-1 friendly victory on Wednesday. They face another game against Austria on Sunday.

Mancini is still upset about the failure to reach Qatar, but he has been pleased with his team's reaction, saying: "We immediately showed a desire to fight back, winning a Nations League group that was by no means easy ahead of Germany, Hungary and England.

"Unfortunately, we’ll have to keep this suffering until mid-December when the tournament is over. Next time, we need to be more precise."

Francesco Totti bemoaned Italy's absence at the upcoming World Cup, describing the upcoming tournament in Qatar as like "going to Rome without seeing the Colosseum".

A shock play-off defeat to North Macedonia knocked the reigning European champions out of the running to qualify for international football's premier competition, the second consecutive World Cup they have failed to reach.

Only Brazil have won more World Cup titles than Italy's five, and Totti says they will be sorely missed in Qatar.

"The World Cup without Italy is like going to Rome without seeing the Colosseum," Totti told Sky Sport, "we're talking about a great national team.

"For us Italians it is a negative thing, but these are things that happen in football. It will always be a World Cup, we will watch it with interest."

Totti, who was selected to the All-Star team as Italy won the 2006 World Cup, pointed out the nations he feels can win the tournament, declaring: "France, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Germany.

"They are always the same, I don't see one over the other. Then they will play in winter, which is strange."

Roberto Mancini was full of praise for Vincenzo Grifo after he played a part in all three goals as Italy came from behind to beat Albania 3-1 in Wednesday's friendly.

A crashing Ardian Ismajli header put Albania ahead in the first half, but a pinpoint Grifo cross allowed Giovanni Di Lorenzo to equalise just four minutes later before the Freiburg man put Italy in front before the break.

Grifo added his second after half-time to kill off the match and secure a third straight win for the European champions since a 5-2 humbling at the hands of Germany in June.

Mancini was delighted with the 29-year-old's impressive performance, telling Rai Sport: "Vincenzo is an extraordinary boy. Grifo is a great player and in the Bundesliga, he is scoring many goals.

"[He is] a very good player, with important qualities. Today he scored two beautiful goals. The whole attack went well.

"You have to play in the best way whatever the moment. We have done good things by also changing the system, that went well."

It was not all good news for Italy as midfielder Sandro Tonali was taken off on a stretcher after an awkward fall in the latter stages of the first half.

But Mancini was positive after the match over Tonali's condition, saying: "He took quite a hit, but he was conscious and I hope to get him back soon."

A Vincenzo Grifo double and a Giovanni Di Lorenzo strike gave Italy a 3-1 comeback friendly victory over Albania in Tirana on Wednesday.

Roberto Mancini's men will not be at the World Cup in Qatar after a play-off defeat to North Macedonia, and they looked on course for another embarrassing loss here as Ardian Ismajli nodded Albania in front.

But Italy hit back almost immediately through Di Lorenzo, before Grifo added goals either side of half-time to secure victory.

It is now three straight wins for the European champions since their humiliating 5-2 thrashing at the hands of Germany in June, as they look to bounce back from their World Cup disappointment.

Italy started brightly, but they fell behind when Ismajli rose highest to meet Nedim Bajrami's free-kick, sending a sublime header crashing into the top right corner.

Albania's lead lasted just four minutes, as Grifo's pinpoint cross picked out Di Lorenzo in the middle to side-foot home.

Creator turned finisher for Italy's second, Giacomo Raspadori squaring for Grifo before the Freiburg man smashed superbly past Etrit Berisha to make it 2-1.

Nicolo Zaniolo hit the base of the post in first-half injury time as Italy looked to build their lead, though Albania clung on to get into the break just a goal behind.

Marash Kumbulla's header shortly after the interval tested Alex Meret, while Grifo nearly scored his second when he lashed the underside of the crossbar.

Albania then hit the woodwork twice themselves, Myrto Uzuni's looping effort beating Meret but not the upper frame of the goal before Bajrami saw a shot deflected onto the bar.

Grifo made it 3-1 after 64 minutes, controlling a cross and dispatching into the far corner to round off the scoring and cap his sensational display.

Roberto Mancini claims Italy are unfortunate not to be at the World Cup, labelling their defeat in qualifying to North Macedonia as "absurd".

The Azzurri faced North Macedonia in a play-off in Palermo in March, only to lose 1-0 thanks to a late Aleksandar Trajkovski strike, despite leading the shot count 32-4 by full time.

It meant Italy would not be present at this year's World Cup, which begins in Qatar on Sunday, but head coach Mancini has dismissed what was perceived as a significant failure from his team to get past comparative underdogs who they will also face in Euro 2024 qualifying.

"The match against Macedonia was an absurd match, which I believe happens once every 100 years and, unfortunately, it happened to us," Mancini said at a press conference on Tuesday.

"It will be a difficult month for us. In the bitterness we may feel at the moment, games have to be played, there are things to see and evaluate."

Italy will play friendlies against Albania and Austria on Wednesday and Sunday as they look ahead to Euro 2024 qualifying, where from March 2023 they will also face England, Ukraine and Malta in Group C.

"It's a pretty tough group, but there aren't any easy groups," Mancini said. "We'll have England right away and then we'll see, but we'll have to fight."

Mancini is one game away from equalling Marcello Lippi and Cesare Prandelli by taking charge of Italy for a 56th time, with only Vittorio Pozzo (95) and Enzo Bearzot (88) having led the team more often.

"I am pleased to join Marcello, who was a great coach, and Cesare," Mancini said. "We hope to do more even if it is long enough to get to the next two."

Dave Rennie admits his Australia team were "not good enough" as they were beaten by Italy for the first time ever on Saturday.

Full-back Ange Capuozzo scored two tries as Italy claimed a 28-27 victory over the Wallabies in Florence.

Australia's debutant fly-half Ben Donaldson missed a late conversion to win the game as his team fell to a historic defeat.

Rennie was frustrated with his side's performance, telling reporters: "We didn't play well enough.

"We gave them a head start at 17-3, gave them hope and enthusiasm and brought the crowd into the game.

"We didn't dominate up front as we would have hoped. We gave them field position through penalties and turnovers

"It is hugely disappointing and not good enough. All I can say is the boys are hurt; they know we are better than that."

Rennie refused to blame Donaldson for the loss, despite his late miss.

"It's tough. He's hurting but we have an arm around him," Rennie added.

"You can always look at the last few seconds of the game, but there was lots we did wrong earlier to put Ben in that position.

"We feel for him but it is not the reason we lost today."

Italy had previously lost all 18 meetings with Australia, stretching all the way back to 1973.

Hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi spoke of his delight at the win, saying: "I have so many amazing emotions – it's an incredible victory.

"We felt we could do it from the first minute. We went out on the field with the right spirit, and attacked and defended really well."

Cristian Volpato's decision on his international allegiance is a personal one that "should not be sped up", Roma head coach Jose Mourinho has said.

With the 18-year-old scoring two goals and contributing one assist in just 106 minutes of Serie A football for Roma, a fierce battle for Volpato's services at international level has emerged.

Born in New South Wales, Volpato is also eligible to represent Italy and has featured at youth level for the European side.

Australia had hoped the lure of World Cup football, with the Socceroos tackling France, Tunisia and Denmark in Group D in Qatar, would persuade Volpato to select his country of birth – with European champions Italy not qualifying for the tournament.

However, Volpato rejected the call-up, not wishing to rush into a decision, and Mourinho believes it was the right call.

"I think it is a personal decision and the club has not been involved. As a coach, for example, I would refuse to call up a player, even a young one, in a situation like that," he said in a press conference.

"What I understand is that he is at the beginning of his career and that he's growing with Roma by getting more minutes in consecutive matches.

"It's not like last year where he played just one game against Verona and then he didn't play again, I think he has now played four games in a row.

"He is in a development phase where I think he has to focus on building his future and not on certain decisions where maybe someone else wants to accelerate a process that should not be sped up."

Volpato used social media on Wednesday to issue a comment on the matter.

"I've seen lots of speculation about decisions I have supposedly taken at international level: the truth is I am just at the start of my professional career and I am totally focused on continuing that process at Roma," he posted on Instagram.

"Making any sort of rushed decision about my international future at this early stage risks being extremely premature.

"There will be plenty of time for me to make the decision that feels right for me, but right now I know my focus needs to be continuing to work hard each and every day in order to continue improving as a player."

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi remains hopeful of a title charge despite Sunday's 2-0 loss to Juventus leaving them 11 points off the pace in Serie A.

The Nerazzurri were downed in the Derby d'Italia by second-half goals from Adrien Rabiot and Nicolo Fagioli, snapping their four-game winning run.

The Bianconeri climb above Inter into fifth, while Inzaghi's side slid down to seventh on 24 points from 13 games, well behind leaders Napoli.

"There are 25 games to go from now to the end," Inzaghi told reporters about their title prospects.

"This is a defeat that slows us down a lot with the progress of this championship but we must be good at putting this defeat behind us immediately.

"We have to improve in these matches, the performance has been there but we have to be better."

Inzaghi added to DAZN: "At this moment, Inter must focus on becoming more consistent. We were coming off four consecutive victories, we are back on the field in a couple of days and a defeat like this can leave some psychological scars, as it was an important match.

"We had been able to score in 24 consecutive Serie A matches, this time unfortunately we were unable to."

Scoring goals has not been an issue for Inter, but conceding them has, shipping 19 from 13 games this campaign, which is the equal sixth worst in Serie A.

The Nerazzurri have conceded 16 of those 19 goals away from home which is the leakiest record in Serie A, having managed only nine points from seven away league games this term.

"We played the most complicated games away," Inzaghi said, having travelled to Lecce, Lazio, Milan, Udinese, Sassuolo, Fiorentina and Juventus this Serie A season.

"Clearly we need to improve in the big matches and in the goals scored. Juve shot three times on goal and scored two goals and one hit the post. We shot eight, nine times, with clearer chances and we didn't score.

"This is a defeat that slows us down, that hurts and for what we have seen on the pitch it is not deserved. It's regret having ended the first half at 0-0."

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said the future of Italy's national team is bright after Nicolo Fagioli marked his first Serie A start with a goal in a crucial Derby d'Italia win over Inter.

Fagioli capped an outstanding Juventus counter-attack by beating Andre Onana with a deflected strike as the Bianconeri leapfrogged their rivals in the Serie A table with a 2-0 victory.

As well as making the points safe with his 84th-minute effort, Fagioli created two chances and completed a team-high 93 per cent of his passes, leaving Allegri enthused.

Asked whether Fagioli deserved an Italy call-up, Allegri hailed the 21-year-old and said Juventus' big-name absentees must compete with him and fellow youngster Fabio Miretti when they return.

"You have to ask [Roberto] Mancini," Allegri said. "One thing is certain, I believe that the national team has an important future with strong young players who need to grow, not only at Juve. 

"There is a good pool to face things in the best way in the coming years.

"Whoever is out will have to run, because these kids run. Fagioli and Miretti must be left alone. 

"Every now and then they will play less well, it is normal, but they must enjoy this moment in serenity."

At 21 years and 267 days old, Fagioli is the third-youngest midfielder to score for Juventus in a Derby d'Italia contest in Serie A, after Giacomo Neri in 1936 (20 years, 291 days) and Antonio Montico in 1955 (21 years, 115 days).

Meanwhile, Juventus have now won four consecutive league games without conceding, and Allegri hopes their improved run will breed additional confidence.

"Winning helps you win, especially because you create a team with values. You need to have important values to achieve your goals," Allegri said.

"Tonight, it was nice to see everyone participating in the match, those who played and those who didn't, with great enthusiasm. 

"We must enjoy the victory tonight but from tomorrow we must immediately think about Verona, otherwise on Thursday we risk throwing what we have done overboard. 

"We are two points from fourth place, let's see what happens in Verona."

Australia rounded off their Rugby League World Cup group campaign with another rout, this time crushing Italy 66-6 on Saturday.

The defending world champions have made light work of each of their assignments in Group B and ran in 12 tries against Italy at John Smith's Stadium in Huddersfield.

Six of them came in the first half as Valentine Holmes, James Tedesco, Campbell Graham, Latrell Mitchell and Murray Taulagi all went over, the latter claiming a double in the opening period.

There was no let-up from the Kangaroos after the break as Isaah Yeo, Liam Martin, Cameron Murray, Jeremiah Nanai and Lindsay Collins crossed, with Graham joining Taulagi in registering a brace.

Ronny Palumbo's try ensured Italy did get on the scoreboard, but they bow out after finishing third in Group B above only Scotland.

Australia progress having scored 192 points and conceded 14. As Group B winners, they will face either Lebanon or Ireland in the last eight, a prospective semi-final with England likely their biggest barrier to a return to the final.

The 11-time winners are on a 15-game victorious streak in the tournament and have reached every final save for the inaugural tournament held in 1954.

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