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Belgium v Italy: Ogbonna hails Italian mentality under Conte

Angelo Ogbonna believes Italy head coach Antonio Conte has instilled the right mentality in his squad ahead of their Euro 2016 opener against Belgium.

The 1968 European champions get their campaign underway against the Group E favourites in Lyon on Monday, before facing Sweden and the Republic of Ireland.

And, speaking at a news conference in the build-up to their crucial first game, defender Ogbonna hailed Conte’s meticulous attitude.

“We always give 120 per cent, because that is only right,” said the West Ham United man.

“We are working very hard and I think the coach is the added value, as he never lets a single detail pass unnoticed.

“This makes us have the right mentality to face these Euros, where on paper we might be on an inferior level to some other teams, but nothing can be taken for granted.

“We are keeping the same determination from the first day to the last.”

Italy finished as runners-up at Euro 2012, but they were ripped apart by Spain in the final, falling to a humiliating 4-0 defeat.

This time, though, Ogbonna, who is unlikely to start against Belgium, has identified his side’s defensive strength as a key attribute.

“The defence is the best-drilled area of the team,” he added. “It can be our strong point, but it too has to be trained well.”

Meanwhile, there are two Italian-based players in the Belgian squad, Roma’s Radja Nainggolan and Napoli’s Dries Mertens.

And Nainggolan has credited his time in Italy with his growth on and off the pitch, calling it his second home.

“Italy is one of the best things that happened to me,” he told La DH.

“It has been 11 years since I moved there.

“That’s where I became a man – and that is also where I see my long-term future.

“I’ll probably live there after my career.”

The 28-year-old featured in the last meeting between the two sides, as Italy were beaten 3-1 in Brussels last year.

However, that was just one of four wins Belgium have registered against their upcoming opponents, losing on home soil at Euro 2000 in their last competitive clash.

Sat 11 Jun, 2016
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