Alessandro Florenzi maintains Italy are ‘as solid as Euro 2016, but with more entertaining football’ ahead of their Nations League trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
It kicks off in Sarajevo on Wednesday at 19.45 GMT and a win would guarantee passage to the Nations League Final Four tournament.
“We’ve got to earn it, because this will not be an easy game,” warned the PSG full-back in his press conference.
“Bosnia caused us a lot of problems last time, as they clammed up in defence and tried to hit us on the counter. It’s going to be a battle, so we are fired up and eager to get this result.”
Florenzi’s former Roma teammate Miralem Pjanic will be in the squad, but not Edin Dzeko, who is self-isolating after contracting COVID-19.
“I did speak to Dzeko before coming on international duty, as I heard he had contracted Coronavirus. We also watched back the last game with Bosnia and Edin did so much of the work for the team, they always looked to him. We need to repeat our performance against Poland and break the deadlock early, because there’s only one result we want.
“It’s important that Italy consider every game to be a cup final, that’s what the coach asks of us every day. We cannot and must not allow our concentration levels to drop, especially with what this game means for us.”
The second goal against Poland, scored by Domenico Berardi, had 30 consecutive Italy passes leading up to the ball hitting the back of the net.
That shows how far the Azzurri have come with Roberto Mancini’s vision of the game.
“In terms of squad, this Italy is similar to Euro 2016 level, although probably our style of football is more entertaining now. So we retained the solidity and added more creativity.”