Friday July 1 2016
Conte: 'Germany are the best'

Antonio Conte hinted Daniele De Rossi could start for Italy, but warned Germany are “the most complete team in the world.”

The Euro 2016 quarter-final kicks off in Bordeaux on Saturday at 20.00 UK time (19.00 GMT).

The first questions were on De Rossi’s fitness levels after he limped off during the 2-0 win over Spain and only returned to training this morning.

“Daniele’s conditions are decent,” replied Conte in the Press conference. “We won’t get ahead of ourselves, as these are games to be played at 120 per cent and very, very physically demanding.

“We must be not in good condition, but great. I have a lot of faith in the entire group. We are facing a very strong opponent, at this moment stronger than Spain, as they are the World Champions.

“Germany have everything to be a strong side, as they have technique, talent, physicality. They are organised and in my view the most complete team in the world. They have strong individuals and the team is just as strong as a unit.

“We consider Germany to be absolutely the best opponent in the tournament. We tried over the last few days to study and understand their play, so it will be a very different match to the one against Spain.

“We must do well to limit our opponents and also hurt them. It is a quarter-final, so if we want to go forward there has to be an attacking and a defending approach.

“In my view Germany are the best in the world. We’ll try to play our cards as best we can. This is a knockout match, you are in or out, so it’s a huge occasion.

“If we were to look back to a month ago, we’d have been given no chance. Yet today we are here to play, deservedly, by winning our group and beating Spain.

“We know there are difficulties and we’re prepared to face them. The situation right now is not on level terms, but we worked hard and are not beaten before we even start.

“I want to see hunger and the awareness we can overcome obstacles that might seem insurmountable.”

Germany beat Italy 4-1 in a friendly back in March, although it was an experimental Azzurri side.

“Both teams have changed since them. It taught us many things, it was a heavy defeat to the World Champions. We’ll face them again and that will be extra motivation. Let’s see if the gap between us has closed or increased.

“We worked a great deal on the tactical element and are well-prepared, as when Germany attack, they hurt you. They’ve got a lot of quality and talents who work for the team.

“As well as the talent, there is an organisation around Germany that has improved a great deal over the last few years. I consider them complete, almost closer to a club than a national team.”

Italy have numerous players one yellow card away from missing the semi-final, while Thiago Motta is suspended tomorrow.

“That can’t be a concern, as in a game like this there is no tomorrow for the losing team, so suspensions are the least of our concerns,” assured Conte.

“We started this tournament with very little credibility, not just in the Italian Press, as everyone recognised it was quite a bleak period in terms of talent.

“Yet we are proving that through hard work and organisation, with 23 splendid lads who sacrifice themselves and help each other out, we are overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

“Now we have a very high obstacle in front of us, just as I said against Spain, but we live and work in order to experience games like this. They make us feel great and we must ride the emotional wave without losing our direction, knowing what awaits us tomorrow.

“Just like against Spain, the ordinary will not do. We must find the extraordinary.”

If De Rossi doesn’t make it, then Stefano Sturaro is expected to step in to the midfield.

“The fact we train in a certain way means we know the tactical situations well. Even if someone has to adapt to a different role, they know what is required of them. It’s an organised context with different characteristics.

“Thiago Motta and De Rossi, for example, have different characteristics. Working and being organised makes changes in personnel easier to handle.”