Cesare Prandelli felt Italy’s fitness levels were “almost embarrassing” compared to Spain, so the quality couldn’t shine through.
The Coach spoke to RAI Sport after a 1-0 friendly defeat in Madrid was sealed by Pedro Rodriguez.
“At this moment of the season the fitness levels compared to Spain are almost embarrassing. We need to work hard, as to play with a high tempo we need intensity in our running.
“We wanted to win the ball back early, we never managed it because we weren’t physically sharp enough. I'll be honest, I did not expect the players to have these fitness levels.”
Prandelli made numerous changes, giving Parma defender Gabriel Paletta his debut and testing a 4-3-3 formation.
“In a friendly I had to evaluate things that you can’t even think about at a World Cup. The midfield, which in recent years has been a reference point, again gave us good guarantees.
“At this moment with these fitness levels it’s impossible to judge the difference in quality between us and Spain. Quite simply, they always got to the ball first.
“Paletta had a wonderful debut and at times Alessio Cerci also did well.”
Ciro Immobile received his senior Italy debut and Mattia Destro returned to the squad too.
“These are young lads trying to emerge from the Under-21 side and deserved this call-up. It was right to give them this experience.”