Daniele De Rossi was impressed by Italy’s World Cup debutants and revealed the strain of facing England in Manaus.
“The debut is always difficult and important, even more so considering the Uruguay result. Winning was fundamental this evening,” he told RAI Sport after a 2-1 victory.
The Azzurri were forced to reshuffle after Mattia De Sciglio and captain Gigi Buffon picked up injuries in training.
“It’s always annoying when you lose a player, above all a symbol like him and in such a daft way. It’s a shame, as Buffon also had an injury at the start of the last World Cup.
“Having said that, Salvatore Sirigu did really well and he stepped up when needed after years of coming in as part of the group.
“Matteo Darmian, Marco Verratti, Ciro Immobile and even Mario Balotelli were all making their World Cup debuts and proved themselves to be up to the task. We’ve got a great squad.
“If we win the next game, then we will have made a huge step forward.”
Italy will face Costa Rica, who crushed Uruguay 3-1 today, while England go head-to-head with La Celeste.
De Rossi played in a new role in front of the defence and found himself regularly clashing with Wayne Rooney.
“It was a fair duel. He is accustomed in England to playing a very physical game, so I doubt he could’ve been surprised by my treatment of him!
“I don’t think it came across on television how hard it was to play in these conditions, how tough to breathe and continue with that humidity. There were moments when it was really difficult to run two metres, as we were suffocating.
“It’s a shame, as that affected the tempo of the match and we wanted to go faster, but it was tough in those conditions.
“England spread the play and take you on one-on-one. We weren’t focused enough when conceding the equaliser, it wasn’t the best performance in the world, but in these conditions it was difficult to do better.
“There is always scepticism around the Nazionale going into a major tournament with factions saying one thing or the other. Plus this season we left behind players like Giuseppe Rossi and more, so there was bound to be controversy.”