Spalletti: ‘Donnarumma will play against Ukraine’


Luciano Spalletti confirmed that Gigi Donnarumma will play in Italy’s next EURO 2024 qualifier match against Ukraine. The Azzurri sit in third place in their qualifying group, knowing that they are in need of a victory following a disappointing 1-1 draw against North Macedonia at the weekend. Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Spalletti dismissed the idea that Donnarumma would be dropped from the starting XI and also explained Marco Verratti’s absence from the squad, amid reports the midfielder is set to move to Qatar:

“I want to thank AC Milan because they provided us with a beautiful centre and everything we needed. We also had the chance to do an eleven against eleven and I want to thank Terzi, the coach of the Rossoneri Under-18 team, for this training session.”

How many changes will you make? Will you also change the goalkeeper?

“Straight to the heart… Donnarumma will be a starter, straight away. For what is coming up is the role of the goalkeeper who always pays dearly for everything. Then he is not forgiven for being a child prodigy who burns the candle at the seams because he is given this talent, this quality. There is this way of thinking. It’s all quite normal, one can make mistakes if one can speak of a mistake and then towards someone there are stronger stances. Then the prodigy boys have to have respect for the talent they have been given because then you have to improve this talent with commitment, only then does it become more difficult for those watching you to hit you. If you don’t work on the talent, then it becomes conceit. Because working on it means that he doesn’t trivialise what he has been given and also provokes more respect in others.

Is there malice towards him?

“Unfortunately, sometimes I have done that too…. Because I started from the regional Allievi of Empoli and then arrived in Paradise where I am now. It’s all good, but so much effort.”

How many changes will you make?

“Today we have the misfortune of having a conference before training. I have an objective formation difficulty. But we sent a couple of them home…’.

Tomorrow Italy has to win…

“It’s easy to manage this situation because we have to beat everyone who is put in front of us. We can’t back down from trying to win any game, it has to be an obvious thing, there has to be, in seeing us play, the pleasure of the Azzurri. We must bring back this correct equation, we must work in that direction there. We want to win and also produce good football, something we didn’t do in Skopje. None of us are happy with that match, in the locker room it was evident that we were disappointed with the result and some moments of the match. I’m eager to see the lads again tomorrow night because there actually the pitch was penalised… I told them until one minute before not to make excuses, but there were obvious difficulties in playing football. We came onto the pitch to play the game and for those who want to defend it is easier. Proof of this are the words of Elmas, whom I respect very much and who said some very precise and harsh words.”

Verratti did not want to come to the national team, L’Equipe said today. Is that true? How do you handle in or out matches?

“I didn’t make time to phone everyone but I phoned someone and I did to him. And I don’t recall him telling me so…. It doesn’t seem to me that he said that, on the contrary, he told me that he was very pleased to have received this call and that he wanted to help, even though he was going to play far away. Bonucci also told me the same thing, he too wants to help the national team. That’s how everyone I phoned answered me. Even the coaches, those who answered, showed me this cooperation. You want to manage it correctly and as involved as possible, even if there is a project to be carried out and today the most important thing is to qualify. Anxiety? let’s manage it as we like, let’s call it what we want but that will always accompany us. Now with this result the pressure becomes even stronger and it will always be like that, as we said before. We have to be more and more professional and manage everything better. But then you need that personality… We have to live up to our history and to legendary champions like Buffon.”

What do youask of the San Siro?

“We must be able to react on any pitch, sometimes we react strongly with behaviour, other times with silence. We have to react to whatever is in front of us. Personality is when you have a lot to say and you keep quiet by being a chicken to gain later… At the San Siro stadium I have nothing to ask, it is us who have to deserve their behaviour. Since I have attended national team matches at the San Siro, I ask of them what they have always done. There has always been a warmth that then becomes the completeness of what our desires and quest must be.”

In what way are Ukraine more dangerous?

“They are more organised than North Macedonia and have a clear attitude in both phases of the game. We have to work on the flanks to find spaces, we have to be good at that. They will want to play the game based on counters. The goal they scored against England is precise evidence of what they thought in that match there: for 24 minutes they were all down low and then the ball was recovered, three passes and the goal. We cannot play vertically at the start, but the spaces must be there. Ball possession is said to count for nothing but you can’t do otherwise when they are there. You have to dig in and carve out a little more space to play in. Ukraine knows how to mount up, on long crosses they can catch the ball and they can also come and press you.”

Too much expectation about the result?

“Often footballers are mirrors that reflect what other people think. Sometimes footballers become a bit of an image of what people think of them if they don’t have a strong personality. If ten people tell a person that he is a weirdo he then acts like a weirdo…. But that’s not my thinking and this is a national team that has values, compact and united. Even when we have won with a very strong national team the characteristic of being a compact and united team, a team of friends, has always been evident. We have won with very strong players, but both in the strong team and in the team with a little more difficulty there must be unity and compactness, a correct group of players, which is a little bit our project. I talk to the president and the Federation, we don’t want to have a very large squad, we want to let young players play as Mancini did if they deserve it… But then you always need a compact and cohesive group. With my choices I will make some players happy and others unhappy, but I will make choices for the good of the national team. I don’t say it here, my history says it. I have always done things for the good of the team, not for my own stance. It’s my history that teaches me how to manage things and now that they have given me the chance to be coach of the national team this will happen even more and I will be fierce for the good of the national team.”



Serie A obsessive.