Federico Bernardeschi is ready to implement Antonio Conte’s pressing tactics as Italy prepare to sign off on their Euro 2016 preparations with a friendly against Finland.
The Azzurri laboured to a 1-0 win over Scotland in Malta on Sunday, dominating possession but struggling to take chances, with Graziano Pelle scoring the only goal of the game in the 57th minute.
Fiorentina’s Bernardeschi came on for the final 30 minutes of the match and the attacking midfielder is eager to prove himself worthy of a place at the European Championship.
“I’m the youngest in the group,” the 22-year-old told vivoazzurro.it.
“I feel privileged and proud to be amongst all these champions. Being part of the Euro squad caps off a great year. I’m extremely proud and pleased. I think I’m one of the surprise selections but I’ve worked hard for this.”
Discussing what opposition teams can expect from Italy at the Euros, Bernardeschi continued: “Conte asks us to pressure our man, to create an imbalance in numbers.
“He wants huge concentration when defending.”
The Azzurri will have an opportunity to put that strategy into practice in Verona on Monday against a Finland team who did not qualify for Euro 2016, but earned a creditable 1-1 draw against Belgium on Wednesday.
“I am extremely satisfied with my team morale,” head coach Hans Backe said. “I told the players after the game… that if in the future we will be able to maintain such a level of desire… we will be able to [take] down anyone.”
Bernardeschi meanwhile is willing to fit in anywhere as he seeks to earn just his second start for the senior national team.
“I don’t have any problems adapting to different playing styles,” he said. “I love to play wide on the right and I dream of playing in the number 10 role. I love playing the ball.”
And the newcomer, who earned just his third cap in the win over Gordon Strachan’s side, harbours the dual ambition of playing a role as Italy lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy for the second time.
“I won’t be happy to just be here, we can all dream as a team and individually,” he said.
Perparim Hetemaj will be a familiar face to Italy at Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi – the midfielder plays his club football for Chievo in Serie A, the only player in the Finland squad based in Italy.
Sampdoria’s Niklas Moisander, Finland’s regular captain, missed five matches due to injury late in the Serie A season and was not selected by Backe.
Italy’s Euro 2016 campaign begins against Belgium in Lyon on June 13, followed by matches against Sweden and Republic of Ireland.
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