Sunday June 15 2014
Prandelli: 'An epic performance'

Cesare Prandelli said Italy put in “an epic performance” to beat England, but warned Mario Balotelli “can do much more.”

The Azzurri were forced to completely reshuffle their side ahead of the 2-1 win in Manaus, as Mattia De Sciglio and Gigi Buffon picked up late injuries.

“I am convinced that in a few days Buffon will be back in the squad, though with a sprain you can never really quantify it,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

“Salvatore Sirigu is doing well, not just for the Nazionale but also his club. He was excellent this evening.

“This was an epic performance, one we will remember for all our lives against a great England side. However, it is absurd that FIFA would not allow time-outs in these conditions. If we want football to be a spectacle, we have to give players the opportunity to give their best.

“We do not have players who are good at the one-on-one like England do, so we made the most of our own characteristics, namely the technical quality in short passing.

“Andrea Pirlo is a player who brings quality to every corner of the pitch. He has such experience that he can control each zone of the field.

“Italy often controlled the game, though we should’ve done better in defence, but we are on the right path. This is the approach we’ll build on.

“The team did well to suffer under pressure and the response from my players was extraordinary. We weren’t perfect for 90 minutes, as in the few times we didn’t cover the spaces we ran big risks.”

Balotelli scored the winning goal and was denied another by Phil Jagielka’s goalline clearance, but Prandelli wants the Milan man to push himself.

“I think Balotelli can do much more. He has enormous potential and has to convince himself that the movements of a centre-forward are targeted at finishing the move. There is margin for improvement.”

Matteo Darmian of Torino was a revelation at right-back and constantly gave England problems.

“Darmian played very well, he is a lad who arrived with the right enthusiasm and is making his mark.”

Italy are now joint top of Group D with Costa Rica, who they face in the next game on Friday.

“We haven’t done anything yet in terms of qualification, but the second match will be decisive for going through. Costa Rica are a side who know how to cover the field, but we’ll have time before discussing our next opponents.”

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