Italy manager Roberto Mancini urged his players to entertain the public one last time at Euro 2020 and said he has no plans to alter the Azzurri’s attacking style for Sunday’s final against England at Wembley.
The Italians have been one of the most attractive teams to watch throughout the tournament, scoring 12 goals, second only to Spain, who struck 13 times before being eliminated on penalties by Mancini’s side in the semi-finals.
Asked for words to describe his team, Mancini told a news conference: “Entertaining and fun, but also concrete and substantial. There have been some tough matches. Some have been extremely challenging”.
“Nothing was easy, even in the group stage we did a good job to get over the line as quickly as possible after two matches. But it has been a rocky road along the way, we have had to battle hard”.
“I hope the team can once again entertain people for another 90 minutes tomorrow before they go on holiday – one last effort”.
The Italy midfield’s ability to dictate possession and stretch opponents with slick passing has stood out on their road to the final.
Mancini underlined that he has no plans to tinker with his tactics against a physical England side, despite struggling to impose that style against Spain.
“We have always played this way. Even against Spain we wanted to play like that, but they did a good job in limiting us, they kept the ball better than us”, he said.
“However, we will try and do what we have done thus far and what has brought us this far, we can’t change that now”.
“England are a very physically capable side all across the pitch. They are stronger than us from that perspective. But you play football with the ball on the deck and we hope to do a better job on that score, we hope those will be important qualities in a match like tomorrow night”.
“Occasionally the smaller guy wins, that has happened to us in the past, and we hope that happens to us this time around”.
Much of the pre-match focus in Italy has centred around how Italy’s veteran centre backs Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci will cope with the threat of a dangerous English attack led by Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling.
“If I try to match Sterling in a foot race, I don’t think I would ever beat him”, said Italy’s 36-year-old captain Chiellini.
“But maybe in situations where it’s a physical 50-50 or there is a long ball forward from the goalkeeper, I might be more likely to win the header”.
“I need to try and limit their attributes, but it depends who plays. Kane and Sterling are different players, and then the other strikers England have all have their own qualities”.
“It almost makes me laugh, because England’s bench could have probably made it to the final, they have some extraordinary players”.
“Thankfully it is not an individual game, it is a team game. It is not necessarily important whether Chiellini and Bonucci can beat Kane and Sterling, it is whether Italy can beat England”.