Italy head coach Roberto Mancini joked that Premier League teams from England are dominating in Europe, despite the country voting to leave the European Union.
Liverpool and Tottenham are set to contest the Champions League final in Madrid on June 1, while Arsenal will face London rivals Chelsea in the Europa League showpiece on May 29 in Baku.
It is the first time in history all four clubs in the Champions League/European Cup and Europa League/UEFA Cup finals will be representatives from the same nation.
Asked about four English teams in the two European finals, former Manchester City manager Mancini replied with a smile: “What does it mean? They want to leave Europe and they are playing the European finals.
“English teams are strong, they have a lot of economic incomes, much more than Italian teams. They can invest a lot. Obviously, they have great squads with great players. This is one of the reasons.
“Teams eliminated from the Champions League perhaps were technically stronger, but this what the beauty of football is about. Nobody expected these two English teams to reach the Champions League final.”
The 2019 #UCLfinal is set!
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 8, 2019
Mancini – who experienced Serie A success with Inter before leading City to Premier League glory in 2012 – is overseeing Italy’s new generation.
The 54-year-old replaced Gian Piero Ventura following Italy’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and his team are amid a six-game unbeaten streak.
Italy routed Lichtenstein 6-0 and beat Finland 2-0 in March to be two points clear atop Group J in Euro 2020 qualifying.
“I think it was a good year,” Mancini said. “At the beginning the team played so so, afterwards many players started playing well and many of them not so known until then managed to stand out. This is a great news for us.
“Italy always had good players. We won all competitions where we were not considered as the favourite team. I do not think we are favourite but I believe we have a strong team which will play an important European championship.”
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