The bustling stadium in Skopje prepares to host a nail-biting encounter between North Macedonia and the reigning European champions, Italy, on September 9, 2023, at 7.45pm UK time. This duel in the Euro 2024 qualifying Group C holds particular significance as Luciano Spalletti takes the helm of the Italian squad for the first time, aiming to resurrect the team’s recently wavering stature on the international stage. The match serves as a chance for redemption for Italy, as they seek to overturn their previous playoff semi-final defeat to North Macedonia in 2022.
North Macedonia, guided by coach Blagoja Milevski, started 2023 on a high note, bagging a win against Malta and delivering an impressive performance against the Faroe Islands. However, the team faced a devastating 7-0 defeat to England recently, a game where England’s firepower showcased North Macedonia’s defensive frailties. Their defense has proved to be a weak link, having conceded 11 goals in recent fixtures, a record surpassed only by San Marino, Gibraltar, and Liechtenstein. Despite this, Milevski’s men have shown a consistent ability to find the back of the net, especially in home games, a streak they would be eager to continue.
Team dynamics indicate that North Macedonia’s defender Visar Musliu will be back after a suspension, bolstering their defense. However, internal issues seem to plague the team, with captain Stefan Ristovski being conspicuously absent following disagreements with the coach. The focal point in their attack remains Aleksandar Trajkovski, even though the seasoned striker is yet to find a club.
On the flip side, Italy, under the fresh leadership of Luciano Spalletti, are keen to reclaim their dominant stature following a series of lacklustre performances post their Euro 2020 triumph. The transition from Roberto Mancini’s reign hasn’t been seamless, with the team grappling with a Nations League setback and a rather disappointing World Cup qualification campaign. Spalletti, riding on his Serie A success, seems to have a promising start, inheriting a team blessed with skill and heritage. The Azzurri are in a recovery mode, aiming to solidify their defense while fostering new talents in the attack.
For Spalletti’s first Italy squad, seasoned stars like Leonardo Bonucci and Jorginho are missing, shifting the focus on the young brigade. Ciro Immobile, the captain, will play a central role in the attack, bearing the responsibility to revive his international career that has been plagued by injuries. The Azzurri’s main challenge remains finding a consistent goalscorer, with hopes pinned on newcomer Mateo Retegui to potentially shine.
Given the contrasting trajectories of both teams, the upcoming fixture seems to favour Italy. North Macedonia is caught in a vortex of internal disputes and a feeble defense, while Italy steps into the game with a renewed vigour and leadership.
Taking into account both team’s current forms and strengths, rezilta.com predicts: North Macedonia 1-3 Italy. This prediction rests on Italy’s superior squad quality and their determination to make a strong statement under new management, coupled with North Macedonia’s recent vulnerability in defense.Important Notice for All Readers:
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