The Under-17 National Women’s Team today completed their final session in Kaunas before they leave for Marijampole tomorrow morning. It is here where they’ll face England in their final group match of the European Championship in Lithuania at 12:00 CEST.
It will be a decisive fixture for the Azzurrine, who after two goalless draws with Spain and Poland, will now be playing for a spot in the semi-finals. A win would guarantee qualification mathematically, while a draw would leave Italy hoping for Spain to beat Poland in the other game in Group B. As for England, only a win will do. However, for them to do so they’ll have to break down the Italy defence, who’re coming into the game after a run of five consecutive clean sheets.
“The girls know how important this match is and they are ready from a mental point of view,” said coach Massimo Migliorini. “This is their third game in quick succession and it’s only normal for them to have a bit of fatigue.” As for his starting line-up, Migliorini has admitted that changes may be inevitable. “I am assessing whether I need to make a few changes in comparison to our last game,” he added. “It is very hot here and I have to take into account the girls’ physical condition. In terms of their characteristics, England are the most difficult opponent for us. They have a great squad and have skill, pace and power. I hope that we can put in a great performance and to play on par like we did against Spain.”
Following this morning’s session, which saw Coach of the Women’s Under-19 side Enrico Sbardella present pitchside, Massimo Migliorini then met with the President of Lithuania Federation Tomas Danilevicius. During his playing career, Danilevicius enjoyed a long spell in Italy, playing for Livorno, Avellino, Bologna, Parma, Juve Stabia, Grosseto and Latina.
Yesterday saw the eight finalists enjoy a day of fair play at the Raudondvaris Castle in Kaunas. This event put on by UEFA allowed the teams to socialise off the field and duly reduce some of the tournament tension: “This is an opportunity that we can’t pass up,” said Captain Chiara Ripamonti. “We are prepared and we’ll give everything to reach the semi-final. We must play without fear and head out there with the aim of winning like we did against Spain. You really feel the heat here, as well as the tiredness, however, this is something that our opponents will also have to deal with.”
The groups for the Under-17 Women’s European Championship finals
Group A: Lithuania, Germany, Finland, The Netherlands
Group B: Poland, Spain, ITALY, England
*Schedule, results and standings from Group B
Matchday one (9th May)
Matchday two (12th May)
Standings: Spain 4 points, Poland and ITALY 2, England 1
Matchday three (15th May)
ITALY-England (13:00 local time, 12:00 CEST – Marijampole FC Stadium)
Spain-Poland (13:00 local time, 12:00 CEST – Alytus)
*The top two teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals. This tournament will also see three teams qualify for the World Cup in Uruguay in November