Three months after Argentina’s dramatic victory in the Qatar 2022 World Cup title over France, the wheel of the national teams is back in rotation with the start of the 2024 European Cup qualifiers in football.
And while host Germany ensured that the finals scheduled for its home tournament will take place between June 14 and July 14, 2024, 53 teams will compete in qualifiers that will continue until next March.
And while it was the largest team to miss the World Cup in Qatar due to its failure in the qualifiers, Italy begins the campaign to defend its title with a fiery match against its guest England, Thursday, in Naples, in a repeat of the 2020 edition that was held in 2021, where “Squadra Azura” won the title with a penalty shootout.
Despite the failure of not qualifying for the World Cup, Roberto Mancini remained a coach and summoned new faces, including Matteo Retigui (23 years), the Argentine-born and top scorer in the Argentine league with Tigre last year.
“Years ago it was said that you had to be born in Italy to represent the national team,” Mancini said. “But the world has changed, and all teams have players who are naturalized or come from other countries.”
Italy is expected to qualify with England for the third group, which also includes injured Ukraine, North Macedonia and Malta.
Mbappe the leader
In his first match as captain of the French national team, replacing retired goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, Kylian Mbappe (24 years old) carries the hopes of France, which receives the Netherlands in a fiery match on Friday in a second group that includes Ireland, Greece and Gibraltar.
France coach Didier Deschamps said of the Qatar World Cup top scorer and hat-trick in the final, “Killian meets all the requirements to take on additional responsibility.”
Mike Mignan (Milan, Italy) will be the main goalkeeper, and midfielder Kevrin Thuram was called up for the first time, so that the son of the former international player, Lilian, will be present, along with his brother, striker Marcus.
New Spanish era
After the disappointment of its exit from the World Cup against Morocco at the final price, Spain dismissed its coach, Luis Enrique, and appointed Luis de la Fuente (61 years), who has experience with age teams since 2013.
He made several changes, including the re-calling of Chelsea goalkeeper Kiba Arisabalaga.
In light of the retirement of Sergio Busquets, and the failure to call up his Barcelona colleague Jordi Alba, the “La Roja” squad does not include any crowned person from the 2012 edition.
She begins her campaign on Saturday in Malaga against Norway, which is missing its lethal top scorer Erling Haaland, who scored 42 goals this season in all competitions with English Manchester City, in a first group that includes Scotland, Georgia and Cyprus.
Ronaldo is steadfast
And for those who thought that Cristiano Ronaldo would miss the Portuguese national team, the 2016 champion, after his move to Al-Nasr Saudi Arabia, the thirty-eight-year-old was called up to the squad of the new Spanish coach, Roberto Martinez, to face Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, in a group that includes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland and Slovakia.
The former Belgium coach commented on summoning the former Real Madrid and Manchester United top scorer and the best player in the world five times, despite his advanced age, “I don’t look at age.”
Cristiano holds the record for the number of international goals (118), and he can lead the way in international matches, which he shares with Kuwaiti Bader Al-Mutawa (196).
The new training presence is not limited to Spain and Portugal. Ronald Koeman returned to the Netherlands seat after the departure of veteran Louis van Gaal after the World Cup.
After eight years with Portugal, Fernando Santos will coach Poland. Italian-German Domenico Tedesco is going through an important experience with Belgium, replacing Martinez. While Michael O’Neill returned to a second trip with Northern Ireland, which took them to the round of 16 in the European Cup 2016.