Euro 2024: ‘Italy will play Spain like they are dressed in Giorgio Armani’

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Image caption: Luciano Spalletti became Italy manager in September 2023 following the resignation of Roberto Mancini

Italy manager Luciano Spalletti said his side will play as elegantly as if they were dressed in their Giorgio Armani suits during Thursday’s meeting with Spain – but they are ready to get themselves dirty if required.
Both sides won their opening Euro 2024 games, albeit in very different manners.
Spain cruised past Croatia 3-0 while reigning European champions Italy fell behind after just 23 seconds of their opening game against Albania, to the quickest goal in Euros history.

Italy recovered to win 2-1, but Spalletti insisted his side remained cool and ready to play to their national identity in Gelsenkirchen – just like their suits.
“We wear Giorgio Armani and Giorgio Armani is known around the whole world,” Spalletti said on Wednesday when asked if the game with Spain would test his ability to give Italy a new style.
“We will wear the same suit, we will try to be the same. Of course we really want to play the game our way and to measure ourselves against one of strongest teams.
“We will be there, well dressed but ready to get our clothes dirty if needed.”
Spalletti said his players need to maintain a level of excellence and concentration throughout the match – from the very first whistle.
“We will have to maintain the same level of intensity for 90 minutes, play quickly, if we don’t do that, they will hurt us,” he said.
Spalletti took the Italy job after Roberto Mancini – who guided the country to victory at Euro 2020, including beating Spain in the semi-finals – left for Saudi Arabia last summer.
The 65-year-old became Italy coach only a few months after guiding Napoli to their first Serie A title since 1990.
That triumph was the crowning glory of Spalletti’s coaching career but he admitted this match is “one of the most important matches of my career”.
“It’s a match which can become a great story to tell later,” he said.
A win for either side will see them qualify for the round of 16, following Albania’s 2-2 draw with Croatia.
‘Spain versus Italy is a classic game’
Spain and Italy met in the semi-finals of the previous Euros, with the Italians triumphing on penalties at Wembley after a classic encounter.
Spanish manager Luis de la Fuente hopes this game will also live up to its all-star billing, despite taking place in the group stage.
“They’re contenders in every international competition,” de la Fuente said of Italy. “Spain versus Italy is a classic game, it could very easily be the final.
“They have great players, a great coach, and a real football culture. They’re one of the great national teams.”
Lamine Yamal, who at 16 became the youngest player in Euros history against Croatia, is in contention to start once again.
“We all know what a great player he is,” international team mate Fabian Ruiz said. “He’s only 16 but he doesn’t show that on the pitch.
“He’s extremely direct, he’s so good one-on-one and he’s very important for us. He’s going to be a great option for us to try and win this game.”

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