Antonio Conte promises a “bold” Italy at the European Championships but “we’re not favourites”.
The Azzurri are gearing up for the tournament in France this summer, facing holders Spain in a friendly in Udine tonight and the CT spoke to El Pais about Euro 2016.
“I have one certainty,” Conte explained. “We have a group of players who get along, a team where there is harmony. We know we aren’t the favourites, there’s Germany, Spain, France, Belgium, and England who I think are being underestimated.
“That said, we’ll play the right way, boldly. I prefer conceding a goal on the counter to having everyone locked behind the ball.
“Let’s try and take the match by the horns, impose our game. We’ll have to give everything, with no fear.”
Conte then discussed some of the players in his squad - as well as one notable absentee.
“Who has surprised me the most? [Alessandro] Florenzi. He’s grown a lot, he’s improved incredibly. He’s a versatile player, with quality and a good engine.
“He’s a humble lad who works hard. I don’t know what we’ll do in the European Championships, but I know we’re going to France with a good group, working as a team.
“Insigne? Lorenzo has grown a lot this year, he’s got great talent and he’s approaching maturity. He’s young, growing well and making his mark at Napoli.
“He has to be consistent and want to continue to play well in these two games if he wants to be in the squad [for the tournament].
“We have a lot of quality and I’m looking for the best tactical solutions.
“Mario Balotelli? I haven’t had a chance to evaluate him, he’s only come once.
“The biggest challenge has been not seeing much of the lads and being unable to work with them, but it’s still been an amazing experience.
“I can’t wait until the Euros, I’ve always envied Coaches when they have the whole nation behind them. I enjoy having so much responsibility.
“I’ve tried to convey the importance of the shirt, that the Azzurri must be your second skin. We’ve evolved tactically too.
“Keep in mind that when we were world champions [Marcello] Lippi had a pool of 64 per cent [Italians in Serie A] to fish from, I have 34 per cent.
“It’s hard to find people to call-up.”
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