Marco Verratti admits “Spain are a step ahead” after Italy lost the European Under-21 Championship Final.
The 4-2 defeat in Jerusalem  saw the Azzurrini capitulate and La Rojita retain their 2011 title.
“It was an extremely difficult game, but we stepped on to the field with the belief we could do well and eager to give our all,” the PSG midfielder told Rai Sport.
“We did everything we could, but Spain are a step ahead of us. They deserve all the praise, while we are slowly improving and hope to soon be at their level.
“I think there were individual errors, as tactically we played well and had scoring opportunities, but it’s not easy to recover when you are 3-1 down, especially against Spain.
“That third goal really hit us hard, though we did try to get back into it, but the fourth finished us off.”
Verratti is one of several full internationals who dropped down to Under-21 level for this tournament, but has his eyes set on next year in Brazil.
“It would be a dream to take part in the World Cup and I know that I must earn my place. Now I’m going on vacation to wind down so that I can start the new season well.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition  - £11,000 to be won monthly!