Di Biagio: ‘Slovenia have changed’

Gigi Di Biagio warns his Italy Under-21s that Slovenia “have changed” since their last meeting.

The Azzurrini visit Koper for tomorrow’s European Championship qualifier, kicking off at 17.30 UK time (16.30 GMT).

“It will be a hard-fought and difficult game. I expect a very different side to the one we faced a month ago,” said Coach Di Biagio in his Press conference.

On September 8, Italy beat Slovenia 1-0 in Reggio Emilia thanks to a Federico Bernardeschi penalty.

Gigi Di Biagio warns his Italy Under-21s that Slovenia “have changed” since their last meeting.

The Azzurrini visit Koper for tomorrow’s European Championship qualifier, kicking off at 17.30 UK time (16.30 GMT).

“It will be a hard-fought and difficult game. I expect a very different side to the one we faced a month ago,” said Coach Di Biagio in his Press conference.

On September 8, Italy beat Slovenia 1-0 in Reggio Emilia thanks to a Federico Bernardeschi penalty.

“In Reggio the reins of the match were firmly in our hands, but on their own turf inevitably they’ll be more aggressive and we will find a less friendly atmosphere.

“They have changed, but then so have we. On the other hand, we’ve got more minutes in our legs now and have gelled more as a team. We must do well to turn what will without doubt be a tough game into a simpler one.”

Slovenia top the group with two wins from three games, while the Republic of Ireland won both their matches and Italy won their only fixture.

“I get the feeling that these are all intelligent lads. They train hard and with the desire to follow my directions. That game with Slovenia is one of the few competitive reference points I have. We were unconvincing in the first half, but played a very good second period.

“The final training session will be useful to take away those two or three doubts I’ve still got. Over the last few days we tested out both the 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 systems. I am sure we’ve assimilated both well and can change during the course of the game.”

Di Biagio was asked about the fact many of his Under-21 side are getting less playing time than last season.

“There’s no point opening up controversy again. Every club has its reasons for not using them. Daniele Rugani and Alessio Romagnoli have settled into their new clubs very well.

“Federico Bernardeschi is one of the leaders of the team. I chose Marco Benassi as captain just because of a feeling. I know he might get cross with me saying this, but my idea is to have a captain who remains with the group for two years.

“Obviously, if Antonio Conte does call Benassi up to the senior squad, then I’ll be very happy for him.”

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