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Netherlands face Italy for World Cup slot

Published: Friday 21 November 2014, 12.00CET
The Netherlands and Italy meet in a play-off on Saturday and next Thursday to decide UEFA's last FIFA Women's World Cup slot. UEFA.com previews the tie.
Netherlands face Italy for World Cup slot
The ADO Den Haag stadium will stage Saturday's first leg ©Getty Images
Published: Friday 21 November 2014, 12.00CET

Netherlands face Italy for World Cup slot

The Netherlands and Italy meet in a play-off on Saturday and next Thursday to decide UEFA's last FIFA Women's World Cup slot. UEFA.com previews the tie.

The Netherlands and Italy play off tomorrow and next Thursday for the last European slot at next summer's FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada. UEFA.com previews the action.

Play-off schedule
First leg: 18.30CET, Saturday, ADO Den Haag Stadion, The Hague
Second leg: 20.30, Thursday, Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi, Verona

Finals draw: 6 December, Ottowa
Finals: 6 June–5 July, Canada

Qualified
UEFA: England, France, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland*, Netherlands or Italy
AFC (5): Australia, China, Japan (holders), South Korea, Thailand*
CAF (3): Cameroon,*, Ivory Coast*, Nigeria
CONCACAF (4): Canada (hosts), Costa Rica*, Mexico, United States
CONMEBOL (2): Brazil, Colombia
CONMEBOL-CONCACAF play-off (1): Ecuador v Trinidad & Tobago (first leg 0-0, return 2 December in Port of Spain)
OFC (1): New Zealand

*Debut

©Domenic Aquilina

Can the Netherlands join Switzerland in earning a World Cup debut?

Netherlands v Italy preview
Head to head

• This is the nations' first competitive meeting although there have been 13 matches between them.

• Overall Italy have won seven to the Netherlands' two with four draws; the goal count is 23-10.

• However, both Netherlands victories have come in the last three games: a 2-0 triumph in Almere in 2007 and 2-1 Cyprus Women's Cup victory in 2012.

• Those results came either side of a 1-1 2011 Cyprus Cup draw; the last Italy success was in 2005 in Zwolle.

©womensports.gr

Thirteen-goal Vivianne Miedema

Netherlands facts
• The Netherlands qualified for UEFA Women's EURO 2009 through the play-offs and also 2013 directly – but have never got to a World Cup.

• The Netherlands beat Scotland 2-1 away and 2-0 at home to reach the play-off final.

• Lieke Martens and Manon Melis scored in both legs, as indeed they did in the 2012 Cyprus Cup defeat of Italy.

• The Netherlands' Vivianne Miedema is joint-top scorer in qualifying on 13 goals with England's Eniola Aluko, Scotland's Jane Ross and France's Gaëtane Thiney.

©Selene Scarsi

Italy top scorer Melania Gabbiadini

Italy facts
• Italy made it to the World Cups of 1991 and 1999; four years ago they were pipped in a play-off by the US.

• In their play-off semi-final they overcame Ukraine 2-1 at home and then drew 2-2 in Lviv courtesy of second-half strikes by Melania Gabbiadini and Patrizia Panico.

• That was captain Panico's 108th international goal; she has nine in 2015 qualifying, one fewer than Gabbiadini.

• Defender Sara Gama is back in the Italy squad after more than a year out.

They say
Manon Melis, Netherlands forward
It's superb that we've beaten Scotland already, and now we have two more finals to come against Italy. These will be two very important games, maybe even the biggest in all our careers as it's about playing at the World Cup for the first time ever and we are really close now. These will be two very tough games. But we are so close now, only two matches, so it will be all or nothing. For now we still have nothing so hopefully it will become everything.

Antonio Cabrini, Italy coach
The players are all fit. As far as their condition is concerned there has been an improvement in recent weeks. That is what we expected. We want to play the game openly, without thinking too much about the result. We will have to be positive and not change the way we usually play. I am very happy about the improvements in our team, and I am happy because I have been involved in a project that wants to make women's football grow. We do not have a magic wand but we do have a long-term project.

Last updated: 04/06/15 3.42CET

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https://www.uefa.com/womensworldcup/news/newsid=2180925.html#netherlands+face+italy+world+cup+slot