Giorgio Chiellini insists “if there was a team that should’ve won tonight, it was Italy” after a shoot-out defeat to Spain.
“We are disappointed by the result, as we had confidence and knew the Euro 2012 Final was not really us,” he told Rai Sport after a 0-0 Confederations Cup semi-final.
“It was affected by a crazy fixture list, as you can’t have three days to recover from a semi-final to a Final.
“We were confident we’d have a good game and in all honesty it went better than expected, as if there was a team that should’ve won tonight it was us.
“There are regrets, as we should have been 2-0 up by half-time. Obviously as the energy levels drop and fatigue sets in, you can get sliced apart by players like Andres Iniesta, especially when losing Andrea Barzagli to injury.
“In extra time I couldn’t wait for it to end, as I was wrecked. The heat was incredible, we were struggling to breathe and could barely finish the match.
“It’s a shame and we go out with heads held high, but Spain should’ve been in that position rather than us. At the moment all we feel is frustration.”
Leonardo Bonucci missed the decisive penalty in the 7-6 shoot-out defeat.
“I tried to console Bonucci, but there are no words that can make a difference in these moments. Leo was unlucky, he took the responsibility and that ought to be appreciated. You can only miss a penalty if you take one. If Roberto Baggio could miss in a World Cup Final, then anyone could.
“Everyone is talking about Mario Balotelli, but Alberto Gilardino has been a reference point for many years and his movement helps the team. He was unlucky not to score, as he is usually pretty clinical.
“We were aware Spain were strong, but also aware that we could hurt them. Spain were frightened after the break and didn’t press us anymore, as they were afraid of our counters.
“We didn’t play catenaccio, as we created several scoring opportunities and moved the ball around well.”
Italy will face Uruguay in a play-off for third place on Sunday in Salvador. It kicks off at 13.00 local time, 17.00 in the UK (16.00 GMT).
“Now it’s unthinkable to prepare for another game in two and a half days, played at lunchtime in this heat. It feels like torture. The organisers have to look at the fixture list and consider the health of the players.”
“Before the Confederations Cup I said we should see this as preparation for the World Cup. We played Brazil without Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi. Today we deserved to win against Spain, so there is clearly some growth.”