Oleksandr Zinchenko insisted Ukraine's win over Scotland will mean nothing if he and his team-mates cannot go on and beat Wales to qualify for the Qatar World Cup.

Zinchenko played a key role as Ukraine defeated Scotland 3-1 on Wednesday at Hampden Park in an emotional return to competitive action.

The World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final was delayed from March following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which is still ongoing.

But goals from Andriy Yarmolenko, Raman Yaremchuk and Artem Dovbyk mean that only Wales stand in the way of Ukraine and a place in Qatar.

Manchester City utility man Zinchenko, though, knows the requirements are clear heading to Cardiff for Sunday's contest.

"Everyone knows the situation right now in Ukraine and every single game is like a final for us," he told Sky Sports.

"We have dreamed to be at the World Cup, so we have one more game, one more final and we need to win it, otherwise this game is not going to mean anything.

"It's going to be a massive game for us. Everyone understands the situation. Every one of us needs to show the best performance in our lives and then we'll see what's going to happen."

In his post-match news conference, Ukraine coach Oleksandr Petrakov said: "I have no emotion, I left my emotion on the pitch. This wasn't a win for us, it was for our country."

Ruslan Malinovskyi, the Atalanta midfielder, told beIN SPORTS: "This win for our people, our country, in a difficult period they are living.

"Also my parents, my brother, they are there in Ukraine and we just want it to finish and pray for our people that this war is finished as soon as possible.

"Now we are not playing for ourselves, we play for our whole country. Soldiers, also normal people, will follow [the Wales] game with their phone, on their TV.

"I think it will be a similar game. It will be a battle, the same, we need to play our game, be fast and be ready for the duels."

Ukraine claimed an emotional win on their return to competitive football as they moved to within one victory of the Qatar World Cup by beating Scotland 3-1.

The World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final was delayed following Russia's invasion of Ukraine earlier in 2022, but Oleksandr Petrakov's side were deserved victors at Hampden Park despite Georgi Bushchan's blunder setting up a grandstand finish.

Scotland boss Steve Clarke said he was "desperate" to reach the World Cup despite Ukraine's hardship, yet his team could not match the intensity shown by the visitors until late in the match, after Bushchan had fumbled Callum McGregor's shot over the line.

But Ukraine held onto their lead – given to them either side of half-time by Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk – with Artem Dovbyk adding a third in stoppage time, and now only Wales stand in their way of a place in Qatar.

Craig Gordon twice came to Scotland's rescue early on, first tipping over Viktor Tsygankov's strike before smothering Yarmolenko's close-range effort, but Ukraine made a deserved breakthrough in the 33rd minute 

Having beat Scotland's offside trap, Yarmolenko controlled Ruslan Malinovskiy's lofted pass brilliantly before lofting a neat finish over the onrushing Gordon.

It was 2-0 four minutes after the restart – Yaremchuk heading home from Oleksandr Karavaev's right-wing cross after Scotland failed to clear their lines from a free-kick.

Ukraine almost gifted Scotland a way back into proceedings by overplaying at the back, with Bushchan's clearance slicing wide off McGregor.

John McGinn headed wide to let Bushchan off the hook for another error, but Ukraine's goalkeeper was punished when he failed to catch McGregor's poor shot.

Despite Scotland's pressure, Ukraine finished things off in injury time - Dovbyk, who had missed two glorious chances, making it third time lucky to ensure victory.

Graeme Souness believes FIFA should allow Ukraine to qualify automatically for this year's World Cup in Qatar, to send a message to the Russian government.

Souness' beloved Scotland hosted Ukraine on Wednesday in a World Cup qualifying play-off that was delayed from March following Russia's invasion of the country.

The attack was universally condemned but the fighting has continued since, with millions of Ukrainians displaced and thousands left defending their homeland.

While the winner of Wednesday's encounter in Glasgow will face Wales on Sunday to determine the final European team to reach Qatar, Souness passionately believes that regardless of the outcome, FIFA should ensure Ukraine feature in the tournament.

"It's the strangest emotion I think I've ever had about a football match. I'm Scottish, was captain of the team, every single game we play in I want us to win desperately," Souness said on Sky Sports before the match at Hampden Park.

"Every single game our rugby team plays in I want us to win desperately. I really have mixed emotions about tonight. What's happening in Ukraine right now, it transcends football.

"It's about life and death, we're witnessing pictures I've never seen in my life before, it's only four hours flying time from where we're standing, not the other side of the world, that could visit us one day.

"So we have to stand up and support Ukraine, we have to get right behind them as much as we possibly can. Football has such a big part to play in so many people's lives today.

"For me, what FIFA should do, FIFA should say it doesn’t matter what happens [in the play-offs], this team should be going to the World Cup.

"Make a group of five somewhere. Ukraine should be going to the World Cup. Simply keep the name of Ukraine at the forefront of everybody's mind."

Souness insists that allowing Ukraine to compete in Qatar will help prove to the leaders of Russia – who UEFA and FIFA both banned from their competitions – that they are truly alone in the world because of their invasion.

"We will get immune to the pictures we see, because it's on a daily basis," he continued. "Regularly, we're seeing horror stories that I never thought I'd see in my lifetime.

"We have to make sure that the people in the Kremlin understand that the world does not accept what they're doing, and football has a part to play because the profile football has.

"This team should be going to the World Cup to keep the name of Ukraine right at the front of everyone's head so that the people in Russia realise that they're standing alone and are in the wrong, they have to accept that."

Whoever progresses from the play-off path has been drawn with England, Iran and the United States.

Jordan Pickford has revealed England's defeats in the 2018 World Cup semi-final and Euro 2020 final have provided added motivation ahead of Qatar 2022.

Everton goalkeeper Pickford has been a key man in the most successful England team since becoming world champions in 1966.

But tournament glory has still evaded the Three Lions, who let early leads slip to Croatia in the last four in Russia and Italy in last year's Wembley decider.

The penalty shoot-out loss in the Euros final was particularly painful in front of a home crowd, yet Pickford is confident that experience can benefit Gareth Southgate's side.

"Yes," Pickford replied when asked if England can win the World Cup this year.

"Obviously it is going to be challenging against the best teams in the world, but it is about us having belief in ourselves.

"We've come so far and had the disappointment in the World Cup semi-final and Euro final – that disappointment drives us. The disappointment is getting so close and losing, getting to the final and losing.

"We are proud of what we achieved, but when you get that close, it gives you that added extra confidence to go and win the World Cup."

Pickford was the only England player to play every minute of their Euros campaign, just as he had been at the World Cup, but he faces fierce competition for his place in Qatar in November.

Rival Aaron Ramsdale impressed many onlookers in his first season at Arsenal – including Pickford.

"Rams has had a really good season – first season at Arsenal, and he's been unbelievable," the former Sunderland man said.

"But for me, it's always concentrating on yourself as well. I know I've got to be at my best every day in training, because you're always going to have that competition, for England and at club level as well.

"You've always got to keep pushing yourself and keep setting yourself targets and become better and get better.

"You want other people playing well, you want other people pushing, so I think when we're training together, we're pushing each other every day to get better and better.

"When you've got three lads, pushing each other to be the best, it sets you up to do well."

An emotional Oleksandr Zinchenko expressed his hopes to make Ukraine proud by qualifying for the World Cup as conflict with Russia persists.

Zinchenko lifted the Premier League title with Manchester City earlier in May, three months after Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine following heightening political tensions between the two countries.

The 25-year-old dedicated the English top-flight triumph to the people from his homeland, and will now look to deliver more success for Ukraine when they face Scotland in the World Cup play-offs.

The delayed play-off match on Wednesday will mark Ukraine's first outing since the Russia conflict began, with the winner of the game with Scotland facing Wales for a spot in Qatar.

Zinchenko was reduced to tears as he addressed a news conference on Tuesday, detailing his desire to make Ukraine proud once more.

"Every Ukrainian wants one thing – to stop this war," he said. 

"I spoke to people from different countries, all over the world and I spoke to some Ukrainian kids who just don't understand what's happening back in Ukraine.

"They only want the war to stop. They have one dream to stop the war.

"When it comes to football, the team, we have our own dream. We want to go to the World Cup, want to give these incredible emotions to the Ukrainians because they deserve it so much at this very moment."

Hampden Park will host the play-off match and the Scotland supporters will be provided with a translated version, provided by language learning app Duolingo, of the Ukrainian national anthem to show their support.

Zinchenko was quick to thank Scotland for their warm welcome in Glasgow, as he suggested the conflict in Ukraine could happen to any country.

"I would like to say as well that a lot of countries maybe don't understand that – today it is Ukraine but tomorrow it can be you," he added.

"So that's why we need to be united and need to defeat aggression altogether. I am sure that the whole of Ukraine will be watching us. We will feel the support.

"We can talk a lot, but we need to prove everything on the field. We will try to make our people happy and proud."

Eden Hazard hopes to prove he is "not done yet" but remained non-committal on his future past the World Cup with Belgium.

The Real Madrid winger has endured another frustrating season, despite Los Blancos wrapping up a 35th LaLiga title with ease and 14th European Cup with Champions League victory over Liverpool on Saturday.

Hazard started just seven games in LaLiga this season for his 18 appearances, totalling 713 minutes of action, and recorded just one assist without finding the net.

That has been the disappointing trend for the 31-year-old, who has managed just 48 outings in the league for Madrid since leaving Chelsea for a reported fee of €100million in 2019.

Hazard remains a well-liked member of the Madrid dressing room, regularly seen surrounded by team-mates at the various celebrations this campaign, but he is striving to improve next season.

His next task sees him lead Belgium into their Nations League campaign, starting against the Netherlands on Friday, and Hazard is hoping to prove a point with his country, who will aim for World Cup glory in Qatar.

"I was disappointed at the European Championship. I had done everything I could to stay fit, but then I missed out against Portugal," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"Now we have even bigger players and young people who will show themselves. We have to go to Qatar with the hope of winning. I want to be able to play without any problems and get back to my old level. 

"But I don't know yet if I will continue after Qatar. It depends on so many things. My family, but also my body for example. I also have to be able to handle it physically.

"I don't know if I'm going to play all the games. You should not forget that I have played very little football in recent months.

"But I want to use these matches to find my feeling and the rhythm again. Ideally, I'll do good preparation to play everything next season and be strong for the World Cup."

While he remains unsure on his future past the World Cup with Belgium, Hazard insists he will give his all to succeed with Madrid before his contract expires in 2024.

"My career was already beautiful," he continued. "Playing at the most beautiful club in the world is great, although the past three years have not been great. 

"For me personally it was bad, but I have come across great players and people. My contract has two more years left and everything points to it getting better. 

"There are no more physical problems and I want to show that I am not done yet. I never thought of leaving. I didn't want to leave. I know I can show something when I get to my level. 

"I just have to play again to be the old, the real Eden Hazard. For me, the new season started three weeks ago. 

"I knew it would be difficult to play this season, but the most important thing for me is to prepare well and be ready for next season."

Scotland boss Steve Clarke is "desperate" to reach the Qatar 2022 World Cup as his side prepare for an emotionally charged encounter with Ukraine.

The two sides meet in a UEFA qualifying semi-final playoff at Hampden Park this week, with the winner set to face Wales for a spot at the end-of-year tournament.

The match will mark Ukraine's first competitive fixture since the nation was invaded by Russia in February, with neutrals likely to be cheering Oleksandr Petrakov's visitors on in Glasgow.

Speaking ahead of the clash, Clarke says the emotional tenor of the game will be led by their opponents, but insists his side will only be focused on their own on-field goals.

"We always said we would be guided by the Ukrainians as to how they felt," he stated.

"They made a decision to get their football players out of the country and into a training camp to prepare for the game because they want to play, they want to try and give their nation a boost by qualifying for Qatar.

"The game goes ahead but still with the horrific outside influence, for us we focus on the game on football.

"Nothing but good thoughts and good wishes for them, except during the game.

"They want to go to Qatar to represent their country but I'm desperate to go to Qatar with Scotland.

"My staff are desperate to go and most importantly our players are desperate to take their country to a World Cup final so that's what we focus on."

Olivier Giroud says he still harbours hopes of featuring for France at the World Cup later this year, having contributed to Milan's extraordinary Serie A title win in his first season in Italy.

Giroud has been left out of Didier Deschamps' squad for France's four UEFA Nations League fixtures next month, with the World Cup holders' schedule including a double-header against 2018 final foes Croatia.

But the striker, who appeared in all seven matches during France's second triumphant World Cup campaign in Russia, has impressed since joining Milan at the start of the season, joining Rafael Leao (both 11) as the Rossoneri's highest league goalscorers as Stefano Pioli's men won their first league title since 2010-11.

Giroud and has 112 caps for France and is just three goals away from equalling Thierry Henry's record of 51 goals for Les Blues, but will be 36 years old by the time his country begin their World Cup campaign on November 22.

But the former Arsenal and Chelsea striker admits he is keen on making a final appearance at world football's showpiece competition, although he is currently focused on celebrating a successful club campaign.

"It would be a lie to say that I don't want to play a third World Cup, certainly my last competition," Giroud told Europe1 Sport.

"At that point I will be 36 years old. And if I am still competitive with my club, yes, I hope to continue helping France. 

"There are still many months to go. Until then, I'll take advantage of my holidays and savour this title with my club. Then we'll see what happens."

While Giroud has World Cup, Champions League and Europa League winner's medals, his Serie A triumph represented just the second league title win of his career, and his first since winning Ligue 1 with Montpellier in 2011-12.

Having held off the challenge of rivals Inter to move level with the Nerazzurri's tally of 19 league titles, Giroud says the current Rossoneri squad have earned a place in the storied history of Milan.

"There have been great players who have passed from Milan," he added. "But it is a source of pride to have contributed to the construction of this Scudetto, eleven years later with experienced players like [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, it is fantastic. 

"We had a great season, we were rewarded for all our efforts and yes, we are entering the history of Milan. We are still a long way from the big names in Milan, but it's nice to be associated with all these great players."

Referring to the side's incredible celebrations, Giroud added: "I think you really realise the impact it has had in Milan and Italy on the open bus, seeing these hundreds of thousands of Milanese fans who have been waiting for a while. 

"We are all very proud to bring Milan back to the top. It was a tough fight to the end, and you realise you are joining a very big club when you see all this passion around you and the class that reigns in this historic club. 

"Not everything was written when we arrived this year. The goal was to qualify for the Champions League, to get back on top of the table. The goal, initially, was not to win the Scudetto. 

"Being at Milan and fully participating in this beautiful story is incredible. It was another challenge that I needed and in addition, it led to a Scudetto. I could not have dreamed of better."

Meanwhile, Milan's successful title tilt was aided by several French players, including goalkeeper Mike Maignan and defenders Pierre Kalulu and Theo Hernandez, as well as a number of other French speakers.

And Giroud says it has been a great source of pride to contribute to the success of a side with a significant French influence.

"The Milanese dressing room has a strong French accent, so to speak, with all the French," he said. "There are also other players who speak French, like Franck Kessie, Ismael Bennacer, [Fode] Ballo-Toure. There are other French players, like [Tiemoue] Bakayoko. 

"We speak French, so it is true that there really is this slightly French team, as there was at Arsenal at the time. We are fortunate to have spent most of the season with four Frenchmen in this team and it is a pride."

Leon Goretzka says Germany are not setting any firm World Cup targets after two disappointing tournaments, but hopes Die Mannschaft can "make a good impression" in their upcoming UEFA Nations League games ahead of their trip to Qatar.

The Bayern Munich midfielder has won 41 caps for his country, scoring 14 goals, but has enjoyed limited tournament success with the national team, featuring in underwhelming campaigns at the 2018 World Cup and Euro 2020.

Germany crashed out in the group stages in Russia in 2018 before being eliminated by England in the last 16 at the Euros last year, also missing out on qualifying for the Nations League semi-finals in 2020-21.

Goretzka, who missed Germany's 2014 World Cup triumph after suffering an injury in a pre-tournament friendly, recalled those negative experiences as he insisted Hansi Flick's side had yet to set any targets for their trip to Qatar.

Asked by Sky Sports Germany whether winning the tournament was a realistic aim, the 27-year-old said: "Answering the question doesn't do us much good. 

"We'll play our Nations League games first and see that we make a good impression and can go to the World Cup free. 

"I've already taken part in tournaments where we were considered one of the favourites and we failed quite a bit. Then there were tournaments where nobody expected us [to perform well] and we won. 

"Basically, we are an absolute footballing nation with great successes in the past, and accordingly we have our expectations in such a competition."

Germany have been drawn into a tricky Group E for the tournament, alongside Japan, Costa Rica or New Zealand, and Spain, having lost their last meeting with La Roja 6-0 in November 2020.

Before that, Flick's side face several tough Nations League fixtures, including a home clash with England and a double-header against European champions Italy, and Goretzka believes those contests will provide Germany with a real test after Flick won eight of his first nine games at the helm. 

"The opponents we have now are much more important," he added. "These are top games at the very highest level.

"We haven't had one under Hansi yet, so [with] many games against top opponents, which is why we made a good impression. Now we can prove that at another level, higher up."

Meanwhile, at club level, Goretzka endured an injury-hit campaign with Bayern, making just 19 league appearances as Julian Nagelsmann's men won the Bundesliga title, fewer than fellow midfielders Marcel Sabitzer (25), Joshua Kimmich (28), and Jamal Musiala (30).

Despite their domestic dominance, the midfielder said Bayern's Champions League quarter-final exit against Villarreal meant the team's season "wasn't satisfactory", and is targeting better things next term.

"We have a lot of things to improve. We played a pretty good, if not excellent, first half of the season. We were in the flow then," he added.

"You can't say that about the second half of the season. We weren't up to par in the important games - that wasn't Bayern-like. Getting kicked out in the Champions League hasn't happened to us against such an opponent in recent years. 

"That's why this season overall wasn't satisfactory, but that's what makes many in the club extremely motivated to do better next year."

Harry Kane is hoping to break Wayne Rooney's England goalscoring record at the World Cup later this year, as he looks to help the Three Lions improve on their 2018 semi-final appearance.

Kane has scored 49 goals in 69 appearances for England after moving level with Bobby Charlton's international tally in a 2-1 friendly win over Switzerland at Wembley in March.

The Tottenham striker is now just four goals behind Rooney's Three Lions record, despite playing 50 international games fewer than the Manchester United legend.

Indeed, Kane has averaged 0.71 goals per game for his country, compared to Rooney's 0.45, and it looks to be a matter of time before Gareth Southgate's captain establishes himself as the greatest goalscorer in the national team's history.

Kane also enjoyed a successful season at club level, registering 17 goals and nine assists in the Premier League to help Antonio Conte's Spurs to Champions League qualification.

 

Speaking on The Tonight Show, the Spurs talisman expressed his excitement for England to build on their 2018 World Cup semi-final loss to Croatia, as he targeted breaking Rooney's record in Qatar.

"I'm excited," Kane told host Jimmy Fallon. "In the last World Cup we got to the semi-finals, which was the furthest we've gone in the tournament for 30 years.

"The country was going mad, but we fell just that one step short. I'm looking forward to this one as we've got a really good coach and a really good team. 

"We've been building nicely to this World Cup, and hopefully I can break the goal record while we're there."

Kane could even break the record before the tournament, with England facing four Nations League contests next month, including clashes with Germany and Euro 2020 final conquerors Italy.

The 28-year-old scored six goals as England progressed to the final four of the last World Cup in Russia, and a repeat performance would also see him become his country's record goalscorer at the competition, with Gary Lineker having scored 10 goals across the 1986 and 1990 tournaments.

Brazil legend Cafu believes anything other than winning the World Cup in Qatar will be deemed as a failure for the Selecao.

Tite's side breezed through World Cup qualifying as they topped the South American group after going unbeaten through their 17 games, winning 14 and drawing three.

The world's number one ranked side and five-time winners have been labelled by many as favourites to lift the World Cup come December.

Brazil, who boast the likes of Liverpool pair Alisson and Fabinho, along with Paris Saint-Germain duo Neymar and Marquinhos, have been drawn into a group with Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon.

However, the Selecao have not appeared in a World Cup final since 2002, when they won the competition, with the last four editions seeing European teams triumph.

Cafu – the only man to appear in three consecutive finals, winning in 1994, losing in 1998 and captaining in the 2002 win – believes it is time for Brazil to claim a sixth World Cup.

"Every competition that Brazil steps into there is the pressure to win it. They are a huge country in the world with a huge history," Cafu told BBC Sport.

"The pressure to win is always there in any game, not just the World Cup. We have a very good generation of Brazilian footballers coming through so the expectation is there as usual.

"It is about time we won, it is clear if we don't win the World Cup it will be a failure. We all have the expectations and hopes that we can do it."

Gareth Southgate's England must negotiate a group with Iran, the United States and one of either Wales, Scotland or Ukraine.

England are on the opposite side of the draw to Brazil, meaning the two sides cannot meet before the semi-final stage.

Cafu, who is his country's most-capped player after making 142 appearances, suggested a meeting between the two nations would be a dream for Brazilian fans.

"For the Brazilian people it would be considered a dream final because of the historical weight of the two nations in football," he said.

"This match would carry huge emotion and it would be beautiful not only for the fans of England but also for football in general."

Brazil great Cafu feels he and "one of the best right-backs in the world" Trent-Alexander Arnold share many similarities, while he heaped praise on England's transformation under Gareth Southgate. 

Alexander-Arnold remains in contention for an unprecedented quadruple with Liverpool, who have already won the EFL Cup and FA Cup and face Real Madrid in the Champions League final next Saturday. 

Jurgen Klopp's side also head into the final day of the Premier League season just a point behind leaders Manchester City, requiring a win against Wolves and hoping Pep Guardiola's side falter against Aston Villa. 

Alexander-Arnold has again been one of Liverpool's stars this campaign, with his 120 chances created far ahead of any other defender in Europe's top five leagues – David Raum in second has 88. 

The England international also leads the way for assists in the same group this term, with his 18 putting him three clear of Liverpool team-mate Andy Robertson. 

Former right-back Cafu, who played most of his career in Serie A with Roma and Milan, was quick to hail the progress Alexander-Arnold has made. 

"I have been following Alexander-Arnold and the campaign he has had at Liverpool," he told BBC Sport. "His progress over the last few years has been amazing and for sure is one of the best right-backs in the world. 

"He is young, strong and has developed hugely considering his age. He also has a lot of experience and I see a lot of similarities between him and myself. 

"We both had a will and commitment to attack, to go forward and have the boldness to shoot and to put the crosses in. The diagonal movements he makes on the pitch are also similar to what I was making as a player." 

Alexander-Arnold will hope to carry his club form into international duty in the Nations League with England before aiming for World Cup glory in Qatar in November and December. 

Southgate's side made their first major final since 1966 by reaching the Euro 2020 showpiece and Cafu credited the changes the England boss has overseen. 

"I have been following England and the evolution of their national team has been very good under Gareth Southgate," he added. "Along with Portugal, I consider England as the team to have evolved most on the pitch in the last few years. 

"They have a very strong squad with individual players who are performing at a very high level for their clubs. This helps the national team and the progress they have shown with their players means they have a good chance to go far in the [World Cup]. 

"If the England players listen to their coach as a group, then they have a better chance of winning." 

Pep Guardiola would be an ideal coach for Brazil as his style of play would benefit the likes of Neymar and Vinicius Junior, according to Julio Cesar. 

Brazil are on the hunt for a new boss with Tite leaving the role after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and Guardiola has been linked with the position.

The Catalan is under contract at Manchester City, who he could lead to Premier League glory on Sunday, until June 2023 but has previously expressed a desire to move into international management.

Julio Cesar thinks he would be a great fit for the Selecao as his possession-based approach would help Brazil's most talented players.

"He has all the qualities to do it. He is one of the best in the world, his style of play is very Brazilian," Julio Cesar told Stats Perform courtesy of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. 

"Everyone knows that Brazilian players love to keep the ball; the majority of them also play in Europe and they are learning to play better on the pitch.  

"We have so much quality on the Brazilian national team: Neymar, Raphinha, [Lucas] Paqueta, Vinicius Junior. All these players are very talented and having a manager like Guardiola would give these players the opportunity of playing the ball more. 

"Every player would love to work with a manager like him. It wouldn't be a bad idea, although we also have really good managers in Brazil. He is a big name in the football world and it wouldn't be a bad thing having him representing our national side. I like the idea." 

Tite's only previous World Cup campaign with Brazil ended in a quarter-final defeat to Belgium in Russia four years ago. 

He steered the Selecao to Copa America glory in 2019 but they were unable to defend their title two years later, with Argentina defeating them in the final. 

Julio Cesar already believes Tite will leave a lasting legacy but has no doubt that leading Brazil to glory in Qatar would achieve him an even higher status. 

"This is what the World Cup gets you, it will level you up. If you can bring the World Cup to Brazil, you can leave with your head held high, you have done your job," he said. 

"He won the Copa America in 2019, he got to the final again against Argentina. He did very well so far, even in the [World Cup] qualifiers he got first place ahead of Argentina.

"He can leave with his head held high, but winning a World Cup with Brazil will take him to the top." 

Roberto Mancini suggested the failings of Italy are due to the problems within Serie A where "coaches don't let young players play because they are afraid of making mistakes".   Italy secured their first European Championship since 1968 with a penalty shoot-out win over England last July, but World Cup play-off heartbreak followed in March for the Azzurri against North Macedonia.   The narrow 1-0 defeat meant Italy missed out on a second successive World Cup, having failed to qualify for both Russia in 2018 and Qatar four years later.   Italy's failure was met with widespread criticism of the domestic game in which critics suggest younger players are not offered as many opportunities to develop, with a preference to rely on foreign players.   This was represented by Mancini's reliance on the likes of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne, with the younger players largely remaining on the periphery at Euro 2020.   Mancini, speaking at a forum to discuss Italian football on Friday, acknowledged little has changed in Italy to develop homegrown talent in recent years as he expressed his concern.   "In the last four years, little has happened and in fact in the national team we are always the same," he said, as quoted by CalcioMercato.   "The first thing is to give more confidence to the coaches as Milan did with [Stefano] Pioli: two years ago he seemed to be leaving, today he is winning the championship.   "Many coaches they don't let young players play because they are afraid of making mistakes. Being down to 32 per cent of Italian players [in Serie A] is highly limiting for all national teams.   "[Nicolo] Zaniolo arrived in Coverciano [Italy's training base] for the first time and looked like a child, after two months everything has changed. The boys improve quickly."

Mancini was quick to praise the race for this season's Scudetto, with Milan requiring just a point on the final day at Sassuolo to secure the title ahead of Inter, who have an inferior head-to-head record.

However, he reiterated his desire to see younger players provided with more opportunities.

"First of all we must say that it was a beautiful championship, where many have fought for the Scudetto until recently," he added. 

"I don't know who will win, I think Milan are at a bit of an advantage. But the matches must be played, then whoever wins will deserve it, be it Inter or Milan. Both have had a great championship anyway.

"Honestly I hoped more players could come through, but in recent years the situation hasn't changed: there are many good young people who can't find chances."

As for Italy's failings in World Cup qualification, Mancini is targeting a response from his side, who start their Nations League campaign at home to Germany on June 4.

"We absolutely didn't deserve to go out, but we have to accept defeat and start again," he continued. 

"We know we don't have big choices, but we have to come up with something like what happened four years ago."

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti suggested Italy are falling behind in international football due to an inability to find a new generation of footballers and a failing Serie A system.

Italy lifted the Euro 2020 title last July with a penalty shoot-out victory over England in the final, the Azzurri's first European Championship since 1968, but followed that up with failure to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar.

A play-off defeat to North Macedonia in March condemned Italy to a second successive absence from the global competition, having also missed out on qualification for Russia 2018.

Roberto Mancini and the Italian football system were met with widespread criticism for their reluctance to utilise younger players, instead relying on the experience of the likes of Giorgio Chiellini and Ciro Immobile.

There were also suggestions the problems were more deep-rooted in the Italian game, with a lack of opportunities granted for homegrown talents in Serie A that failed to establish a clear path to the national team.

Ancelotti, who featured for Italy as a player and has managed five Italian clubs, echoed those sentiments as he reflected on the improvements needed in his home country.

"I believe that Italian football must seek an improvement in the spectacle it offers," Ancelotti said at a forum to discuss Italian football, as quoted by Tuttomercatoweb. "It is not attractive for several reasons.

"There is the technical aspect, in the sense that there is a lack of figures to look up to in a generation of footballers that has had difficulty producing great champions after the 2006 World Cup, where there were the likes of [Francesco] Totti, [Alessandro] Del Piero, [Andrea] Pirlo, [Gennaro] Gattuso.

"Italy struggled to find a generation of new talents. It is true that the unexpected success at the European Championships arrived, but the individual quality of Italian players at the moment is not that of 15 years ago."

As for how Italy can improve, Ancelotti pointed towards the development opportunities in Serie A as a vital factor.

"In my opinion, right now young people are struggling to find chances in Serie A," he added. "Especially with the new rules, which benefit foreign players and do not allow Italians the time they need.

"In 2019 there was a youth final between Italy and Portugal: the Portuguese players included the likes of [Rafael] Leao, now they play in the top Portuguese or English leagues.

"If you look at the squad, the Italian players are much less active."

Italy will look to get back on track when they face South American champions Argentina in a match billed 'Finalissima' at Wembley on June 1.

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