NEWS
Thursday June 20 2019
Barella: 'Italy boys must be men'

Nicolò Barella urged Italy to “be men against Belgium” and trust Spain to get the necessary result in the European Under-21 Championship.

The Azzurrini beat Spain 3-1 in their opener, but a shock 1-0 defeat to Poland last night means victory over Belgium on Saturday might not be enough to secure qualification for the semi-finals.

“We know that we’ve got to win the next one. Destiny is no longer in our hands, so we are disappointed, but also concentrated at the same time,” said the midfielder in his Press conference.

“We’ve got to be men against Belgium, play with guts and balls. We’ll keep an ear out for the other result, but I’m sure Spain will do their duty and win. We could even go through in second place, but if we don’t win against Belgium, then the rest is pointless.”

Only the three group winners go through to the semi-finals, along with the best runner-up, so Italy’s group is likely to go down to goal difference in head-to-head meetings.

After two games, Poland have six points, Italy and Spain three each.

Italy dominated the game with 60 per cent possession and had 31 attempts on goal, yet lost 1-0 to Poland.

“The first half saw us play some very good football and we had chances, but weren’t clinical enough. Then Poland put everyone behind the ball and basically had a defensive line of eight. The only spaces were down the flanks, so we had to keep putting crosses in.

“We prepared the game trying to play between the lines and send our most talented players into one-on-one situations. We got a lot wrong and could’ve made more of our supply for Patrick Cutrone and Moise Kean, but the Polish defenders forced us to go wide.

“There were the opportunities to score and we didn’t take them, as unfortunately we weren’t sharp enough. We’re all in this situation now, so all we can do is win and hope for the best.”

Barella is reportedly close to an Inter transfer this summer, even though Cagliari set a €50m price-tag on the Italy international.

“This tournament is too important for me to spend time reading the papers. I don’t set the price, the clubs have to talk it out between themselves.”

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