Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Chiellini backing Spalletti to deliver ´magical´ Italy moments ahead of Euro 2024

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 2 Jun 2024

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Giorgio Chiellini believes head coach Luciano Spalletti can deliver “magical Italian nights”, ahead of the Azzurri’s title defence at Euro 2024.

Spalletti’s Italy will head to Germany as the reigning champions, after beating England on penalties at Wembley in the delayed Euro 2020 final three years ago.

Chiellini captained the Azzurri to their second European crown – adding to their 1968 triumph – with Roberto Mancini’s side also defeating the likes of Belgium and Spain on the way to glory.

Three years on, the former defender believes the four-time World Cup winners will be “outsiders” at the tournament, where they will play Spain, Croatia and Albania in Group B.

However, he thinks that may play into Italy’s hands should they progress into the latter stages.

“I’m very happy with Spalletti and for Spalletti,” Chiellini told Corriere dello Sport. “I have the utmost respect for him, and I’m convinced that if there is someone who can make us relive the magical Italian nights, it’s him.

“The favourites are others. The pressure is on France, England, Portugal, Germany, Spain, not on us.

“This group only has to gain from this European Championship. Italy are outsiders. Facing us in knockout matches is never easy.”

A nine-time Scudetto winner with Juventus, Chiellini also had his say on former Bianconeri boss Antonio Conte, who is heavily linked with a return to management at Napoli – 15 months after his last spell in the dugout at Tottenham.

“I can see him doing well,” the 39-year-old said. “I believe he rested and needed it after some personal issues that affected him. I haven’t seen him recently, but I felt he was ready. Napoli is a club that gives you a lot, that energises you a lot.”

Inter retained the Scudetto in 2023-24 – finishing a whopping 19 points clear of second-place Milan – and Chiellini believes the Nerazzurri will be the team to beat once more next term.

Asked if he was surprised by the dominance of Simone Inzaghi’s side, he replied: “No way. I already said it last July, then also in December.

“They told me I was being superstitious, that I didn’t want to mention Juventus, but for me, the difference was obvious, and so it was. The only doubt is the new ownership, but from what I read, it seems to me that everything is under control.

“If they maintain the structure, with controlled management and targeted investments, Inter are too far ahead of the others. If all the players remain, as it seems, Inzaghi’s team will start as favourites next year, too.”

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