Wednesday October 10 2018
Italy reign over Ukraine

As the Azzurri prepare to face Ukraine tonight, Daryl Hammond looks back on the history of the fixture.

"The Italians have a great team and they don't forgive mistakes," said former Ukraine manager Oleg Blokhin. And a ruthless Italy side capitalised on a fair few of them when the sides met on the biggest stage.

In the grand scheme of things, Italy's quarter-final meeting with Ukraine at the 2006 World Cup was a mere speed bump on their way to lifting the famous trophy in Germany.

Luca Toni scored twice as they ran out 3-0 winners, in what was their biggest win of the tournament.

For Ukraine it was their greatest World Cup achievement. Lead by perhaps their greatest ever footballer in Blokhin, they not only qualified for their first and only

World Cup as an independent country, they made it as far as the last eight.

Confidence in either side is not as high as it was back then.

With seeds of doubt around the formidability of this current Azzurri side, this match represents a chance at finally finding a chink in the armour for the Eastern

European nation. At least that would be the hope, though history suggests little reason for Milan legend and Ukrainian Coach Andriy Shevchenko to be optimistic.

In seven meetings Ukraine have not won once, with a 0-0 draw in 2006 the only result to take solace from.

Regardless of their achievement back in Germany, the squad was far from 'star-studded' and the football wasn't much to write home about either.

Back then the only man they feared in that team Is the one who will be sitting in the opposition dugout. One of Serie A's greatest imports, Andriy Shevchenko, led the line for Ukraine.

A Ballon d'or winner and Capocannoniere in 2004 with Milan, he was their greatest threat. The Azzurri backline did a good job of marshalling him as he only scored once in his four appearances against Italy, drawing a blank in that World Cup match.

But for a thumping late free-kick that stung the palms of Gianluigi Buffon, his contribution in the game was rather minor as he was well-marshalled by Fabio Cannavaro and Andrea Barzagli.

They could have done with his shooting boots that day as they peppered Buffon's goal to no avail in search of an equaliser.

He soon rectified that with a goal in their European Championship qualifier the following year, though a brace from Antonio Di Natale spoiled the party.

Speaking ahead of the game, Sheva said the Azzurri currently struggles for a true striker, and with Federico Bernardeschi rumoured to be unleashed in the false nine role, he might be right.

Though he himself struggles with the same problems as wingers Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmalenko are the main source of goals, with the latter's absence through injury a blow.

Shevchenko even featured as a fresh-faced teenager in the very first meeting between the two sides back in 1995, when the 18-year-old was humbled by Paolo

Maldini and co. in a 2-0 reverse. The last time these two sides met was 2011, another 2-0 win. Only Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini remain in the current Italy squad.

Much like today they were adapting to a new regime, with Cesare Prandelli not long at the helm. Roberto Donadoni's first win as Italy boss came against Ukraine after an opening five games without victory.

With only one win from five games, like Prandelli and Donadoni, Roberto Mancini will be looking to use this fixture to take an important next step in transforming Italy in his image.

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Have your say...
Mancini is as bad a s Ventura. I would be giving Qualiarella a chance!
on the 11th October, 2018 at 10:55am
I'm still waiting for the revolution that was supposed to happen after we didn't qualify for the World Cup.What will it take for something to be done about Italian football and the lack of players we have.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 9:46am
Yet again a half empty(small)stadium for an Italy game.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 9:43am
This team will not qualify for the Euros.Mancini is a disaster.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 9:42am
This is even worse than I ever thought possible. Just a shame Ventura is taken otherwise we would have been better getting him back in.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 9:02am
Mancini made 6 substitutions and did not even give Giovinco a single minute. WTF.
on the 11th October, 2018 at 12:42am
Pfft... wow Italy managed to score ....ONE GOAL. but also gave up a goal. So 1 - 1. Again against a nation ranked lower, UKRAINE >29th. ITALY who’s ranked 20th ( all time low) and NEVER lossed to UKR, can only manage a draw with an all out attacking trident.
Dare I say back to drawing board for Mancini. I really don’t see them improving by 2020. I don’t see them winnng a single game for rest of NL,and year. 2019 will be winless too,unless the play nations ranked 90 and below.
on the 10th October, 2018 at 10:26pm
hey Daryl, your post isn't receiving many comments neither football italia site is covering a whole lot more about Azzurri. This shows how the club level is more important than national team news! this is absolute disgrace! the game will start after 2 hrs no news about the line-up, formation, and the team overall. this website should be ashamed of themselves.
on the 10th October, 2018 at 5:48pm
Well they'll never have a better chance to beat us than just now that's for sure. Let's hope there is some improvement at least.
on the 10th October, 2018 at 4:24pm
The most important thing is that we score in open play to redress the team's final-third confidence issues. It's extremely worrying though to see that the predicted line-up for tonight is basically our strongest team: why not rest players against Ukraine so that our best 11 are fresh for the Poland game, which is actually in a competitive competetition and counts more towards our co-efficient!? Can anyone remember what it was like when the Azzurri wasn't run with short-sighted stupidity?
on the 10th October, 2018 at 12:53pm

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