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Verratti uninterested by Italy midfield

Marco Verratti refuses to be drawn into the debate over Antonio Conte’s Italy midfield and Andrea Pirlo’s potential retirement, insisting he is focused solely on retaining his place in the side.

Verratti played the entirety of Sunday’s 1-0 win Euro 2016 qualifying over Bulgaria, starting alongside Marco Parolo and Daniele De Rossi – who scored and was sent off – as veteran Pirlo was an unused substitute.

Pirlo moved to MLS franchise New York City from Juventus in July and has seen his international place called into question, notably by Juve director Giuseppe Marotta, who suggested every player should know when to retire.

Long-time Juve and Italy team-mate Gianluigi Buffon backed Pirlo to play a role in Conte’s set-up on Monday, although Verratti was coy on the subject.

“It’s not about making experiments, the coach makes his choices and he decides who should play,” explained the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder.

“I don’t care about who’s playing alongside me, I’ll try to do my best and then the coach will make his evaluations.”

De Rossi’s early winner against Bulgaria ensures Italy sit two points clear of Norway at the top of Group H going into the final two games.

Despite being on the brink of the Euros, Verratti urged his side to maintain momentum, adding: “I don’t care about [just getting] two points, we want to win games.

“Now we’ll focus on our clubs, then when we’re back we’ll try to win the two remaining games as winning helps winning. Even if winning won’t be essential, for us it’s very important.

“The important thing is that we won. Then we can’t deny we should improve. The three points against Malta and against Bulgaria paved the way for us to the top of the group, then we can work on improving our playing style.

“However, even other national teams are having difficult times nowadays playing against small teams, it is difficult as they are very organised.

“We are often criticised but we keep winning and it’s always difficult to beat us.”

Mon 7 Sep, 2015
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