Thursday June 13 2013
Verratti has Dutch courage

Marco Verratti hopes his history with Holland can bring Italy luck in the Under-21 European Championship semi-final.

The Azzurrini topped Group A and will go head-to-head with the Netherlands in Petach Tikva on Saturday June 15, kicking off at 19.30 UK time (18.30 GMT).

Verratti was one of several senior Italy players pulled back into the Under-21 side for this tournament and scored his first full international goal in a 1-1 friendly with Holland back in February.

“I hope that goal brings me good luck this time,” 20-year-old Verratti told

“But the most important thing is to reach the Final because we want to go all the way. I’m glad to be here and I look forward to playing this game.

“We are in the semi-finals and we have to give everything. I have to say thanks to my teammates and my coaching staff, who put me in the best condition from the first day.

“Today we will start to study our opponent. When you meet teams like Holland you can hinder them with speed and by attacking the spaces. They always like to press high in defence, so we must try to attack the depth of the pitch in the best way possible and try to be very quick with the ball.

“They are a very physical team and they are also good technically. We have to play as we know, keep the ball on the ground and be clinical in front of goal.”

Verratti may have senior Italy experience, but the Dutch squad includes 12 players who have full international caps.

“Experience for a player is very important in these competitions. You can be more relaxed and confident on the pitch. We have less experience than them, so this is a disadvantage.”

Italy topped Group A by beating England 1-0 and Israel 4-0, then a last-gasp 1-1 draw with Norway.

“I would give Italy 8/10 now, but we can improve and we can reach 9/10 or 10/10,” concluded the Paris Saint-Germain talent.

The other semi-final on Saturday is Spain-Norway.

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