Italy fortunate to only lose by one, concedes Spalletti

By Sports Desk June 21, 2024

Italy boss Luciano Spalletti conceded the Azzurri were never in their Euro 2024 game against Spain and felt the defending champions were fortunate not to lose by more than a one-goal margin.

Riccardo Calafiori's second-half own goal made the difference as Spain defeated Italy 1-0 in Gelsenkirchen on Thursday.

The defender became the first Italy player to ever put through his own net in a European Championship match and a poor loss left the Azzurri with work still to do to secure progression from Group B.

Spain fired off 20 shots to Italy's four, also creating 1.9 expected goals (xG) to the Azzurri's 0.18 and enjoying 57.2 per cent of the possession, with La Roja clinching their place in the knockout rounds.

Spalletti was honest in his post-match assessment, with a huge clash against Croatia in Leipzig to follow on Monday.

"It is a result they [Spain] deserved and beyond the one-goal difference," Spalletti told reporters.

"They deserved to win it and we were never in the game

"Besides the final 20 minutes of the match we were never able to create situations which would allow us to actually compete against a brand of football of this level.

"They caused us problems larger than the scoreline suggested, let’s not beat around the bush. 

"Spain were a team on the night and we were not able to be a team."

If they are to lift more silverware in Berlin next month, Italy will need a dramatic improvement, as attempting just four shots in the match meant it was their fewest on record (since 1980) in any Euros game.

By contrast Spain, who were drawn into what many believed to be the toughest group at the tournament, have  made light work of some difficult opponents, thrashing Croatia 3-0 before comfortably overcoming Italy.

They have clinched top spot in Group B with a game to spare, while Italy are second on three points, two clear of Croatia and Albania going into the final round of games.

Finding a way to increase his players' energy levels was on Spalletti's mind going into the clash with Zlatko Dalic's side.

Spalletti added: "Maybe I needed to give them more rest, I probably need to give them more days off.

"We gave them a day and a half off in terms of rest and we saw that was the right decision in terms of our data.

"But there was too much of a gulf, we were constantly stretched, we probably didn't recover very well in terms of just how demanding and important the [start of the] tournament was itself, because there was too much of a gulf in terms of sharpness and freshness.

"You can't necessarily talk about anything else, overall. If you don't have the same stamina as the opposition, obviously you can't do things with the same reactivity, the same speed of reaction."

If Italy are able to secure second place in Group B, they will face the runners-up in Group A, a position currently held by Switzerland, in the last 16.

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