Luciano Spalletti said Italy wants to ‘dominate proceedings’ against Spain, something that his predecessor Roberto Mancini failed to do three years ago despite beating the Spaniards and qualifying for the EURO Final.

Italy’s upcoming match against Spain is worth much more than just three points. As Spalletti said during a pre-match press conference on Wednesday, the Azzurri want to “show a crazy desire to prove we are also an important [footballing] school”, arguing that Spain are one of the best countries in the world when it comes to footballing identity.

Spalletti stressed that Italy would try to “dominate proceedings,” knowing that, however, they wouldn’t necessarily keep possession for longer than their opponents.

“Sometimes we may attack and other times we may be forced to defend in our own half, but the idea is always to try to play football,” said the CT.

“Spain became Spain and their school of football is known because they’ve always played the same brand. That’s how they became so recognisable,” argued the ex-Napoli boss.

“They did so because they were able to maintain the same football philosophy. We often talk about international football and different schools of thought, some more defined by schools than Italy. In order to get to that stage, you need to follow Spain’s playbook. Come up with the same philosophy again and again.”

Historically, the Italian and the Spanish philosophies have always been quite different. The Azzurri’s football was mostly based on strong defence, a low block and counter-attacks while Pep Guardiola has inspired Spain’s tiki-taka style over the last 15 years, with the country reaching the summit of world football.

However, Spalletti doesn’t want to leave the ball to Luis de la Fuente’s boys this time. He wants to play on par with La Roja.

“We want to test ourselves against the top sides like Spain to see where we are at in terms of performance levels,” he said.

“We try to play a positive brand of football and keep possession. I believe if you give the opposition the ball, you’ll come away the worst of the two. We’ll try to dominate proceedings from time to time. We’ll see if we’ll do a good enough job to do so.”

This is exactly the point.

Can Italy play a better brand of football than Spain? Can they dominate possession against one of the best teams in this regard, perhaps the best in Europe?

The Azzurri had the same dilemma three years ago when they qualified for the European Championship semifinals against Spain through convincing performances during the group stage and the knock-out phase. However, the opening ten minutes against La Roja at Wembley Stadium were enough to understand they had to switch to the old style if they wanted to emerge victorious.

One player on the pitch that night, Federico Bernardeschi, has described the game as “probably the toughest one” he’s ever played and even Spalletti noted that the Azzurri will need to “make progress before we can play the same brand of football [as Spain].”

Spalletti’s predecessor, Mancini, failed to beat Spain in terms of playing style three years ago, but he eventually brought Italy to the EURO 2020 Final thanks to a win on penalties. The knock-out phase is still far away this time and even if a major tournament is no good place to experiment, the Azzurri and their ambitious CT have the best stage to show that football in the country is really evolving and is no more Catenaccio & Contropiede.

“We have the utmost respect for Spain and their players but we must not think that you are better than you actually are. That would be a huge mistake,” concluded Spalletti.

“We also have an opportunity to play our game. Ultimately, we need to see if we’ll be able to do so, but we need to talk about it post-match.”

2 thought on “Ambitious Italy coach Spalletti wants to succeed where Mancini failed against Spain”
  1. I was a bit empathetic with Spaletti in the past, now, as Italy Ct though he is doing the best I could ask if I were Italian and more, reaffirming what I say for 3-4 seasons now:Serie A has now less teams play catenaccio than EPL! the only thing why people don’t affirm this is because the TEMPO is the highest so it makes it feel less, but show me how many teams play NOT to loose and how many play to actually win against the big6? Thank u(silence)

  2. italy will win. Croatia is crap, they are too old and slow, even albania scored 2 goals against him and could have scored more. As mentioned Donnaruma is better than Simon. Italy instead are young and fast. I think Chiesa and Scamacca with his height will give Spain nightmares. Spain have small defenders. Our defense is young but Italy have a great goalie. Italy 2-1

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