Saturday, July 13, 2024

Italy must be ´meaner´ against Spain after nervy win over Albania – Spalletti

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 16 Jun 2024

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Italy must be “meaner” when they face Spain in Thursday’s heavyweight Group B clash after starting Euro 2024 with an unconvincing win over Albania, says Luciano Spalletti.

The Azzurri were stunned by the fastest goal in European Championship history on Saturday as Nedim Bajrami put them behind within just 23 seconds, but goals from Alessandro Bastoni and Nicolo Barella saw them rally for a 2-1 win.

The defending champions enjoyed 68.3 per cent of the possession, created five big chances to Albania’s two and recorded 34 touches in the penalty area to their opponents’ seven.

However, they still had to survive a major scare at the death as Gianluigi Donnarumma turned Rey Manaj’s attempted lob wide, clinching the three points.

After seeing Group B rivals Spain thrash Croatia 3-0 earlier on Saturday, former Napoli boss Spalletti knows more will be needed from Italy next time out.

“There are a number of things we still have to improve because we thought we were better than we were in too many situations,” Spalletti told reporters.

“We need to be meaner. We are neat and tidy in the way we build things up, we would free up a man, but then you need to go and hurt the opposition.

“We thought we were brilliant at just keeping possession. We need to move the ball a bit more quickly, because we did so badly on occasions tonight, but against Spain there will probably be chances to play the ball forward more.

“Because they tend to be more aggressive in their bite and press, there might be greater scope to actually play in behind their defensive line.”

Italy have now won their opening game on each of their last three appearances at the Euros (also 2016 and 2020), having only done so twice in their first eight (five draws, one loss).

They have also gone unbeaten through 10 games at the tournament for just the second time (seven wins, three draws), previously doing so in their first 10 between 1968 and 1988 (four wins, six draws), lifting the trophy in 1968.

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