Questions left to answer for Italy after passing first Euros test

questions left to answer for italy after passing first euros test

Italy got off to a winning start at Euro 2024 against Albania

Reigning champions Italy came through a test of their Euro 2024 credentials on Saturday with an eventful 2-1 win over Albania but the Azzurri have plenty to digest ahead of their next Group B clash with red-hot Spain.

The Italians have their sights set on qualification for the last 16 and are locked on three points with group leaders Spain before the pair face off in Gelsenkirchen on Thursday.

However, one point from their final two matches should be enough to secure a place in the knockout rounds given that the four best third-place finishers go through.

That makes facing Spain -- who beat Croatia 3-0 on Saturday -- a less daunting prospect for a developing team.

"I'm pleased with them tonight but we shouldn't be too pleased with ourselves," said coach Luciano Spalletti of a solid opening win, albeit one in which they had to come from behind after conceding just 23 seconds into the game.

Italy came into the tournament in Germany as something of an unknown quantity, despite being the title-holders, with a host of fresh faces in the squad.

Spalletti had only a handful of matches to develop his side after replacing Roberto Mancini last year, and the coach's international tournament debut was made even harder by being drawn in a fiendishly difficult Group B.

However, Italy dealt with a hostile crowd in Dortmund which was overwhelmingly Albanian and intent on creating an intimidating atmosphere to rattle their more illustrious opponents.

Huge numbers of Albanians swarmed the streets outside the ground and made an enormous racket inside, easily drowning out Italy's relatively meagre support.

Ahead of the match the head of the Albanian football federation, Armand Duka, said that over half of the Westfalenstadion would be filled with his countrymen but it looked and sounded like much more on Saturday.

And the masses decked out in red and black unleashed a wave of noise when Nedim Bajrami, who plays his club football with Sassuolo in Italy, lashed in the fastest goal in the history of the European Championship to put Albania ahead.

- 'Kill off games' -

Inexperienced Italy could have crumbled after such a rapid setback, and one which was brought upon themselves thanks to Federico Dimarco's sloppy throw-in which allowed Bajrami to rifle past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Yet instead they fought straight back and were ahead with a quarter of an hour on the clock thanks to a bullet header from Alessandro Bastoni and Nicolo Barella's sumptuous first-time strike.

"It was a bit of a strange start to the match as a goal after 23 seconds could have really hurt the players psychologically," Barella told Sky Sport.

“We should have scored more goals and fell away a bit at the end, but we started on the right foot with the win."

The once-feverish Albania support was quickly quietened down and from that point on Sylvinho's team barely threatened at all as Italy calmly took control of the game.

Italy could have won by more as Davide Frattesi clipped a neat finish off the post at the end of a brilliant passing move just after the half-hour mark, while Gianluca Scamacca was denied shortly afterwards by a sharp Thomas Strakosha.

And the one worry for Italy, apart from individual errors, is not capitalising on chances created with two much more accomplished sides awaiting.

Italy were almost dealt a sucker punch in the final moments when Albania substitute Rey Manaj misdirected his lofted finish over Donnarumma after being sent through with a simple long ball over the top.

"At this level anything can happen," said Federico Chiesa. "That is where we need to improve, by killing off games that we are dominating."

td/as

OTHER NEWS

53 minutes ago

Team USA coach Steve Kerr reacts to shooting of Donald Trump

53 minutes ago

Trailblazing video artist Bill Viola dies at 73

53 minutes ago

8 things to know about the drug known as 'gas station heroin'

53 minutes ago

Global leaders condemn assassination attempt targeting former US President Donald Trump

56 minutes ago

People are only just realising why the Spanish national anthem has no lyrics

56 minutes ago

Barclays introduce low noise hand dryers and gender neutral toilets

56 minutes ago

Imran acquitted in last case but won't walk free

56 minutes ago

Meghan Markle reunites with make-up artist and 'best friend' Daniel Martin at the Epsys after a two-year break from working together

1 hour ago

South Fremantle Football Club Nick Campo killed in Perth fatal

1 hour ago

Orlando Pirates legend on his future

1 hour ago

A short stay in 'the strangest town in Wales' made one visitor want to go 'back again and again'

1 hour ago

Chelsea offer player plus cash for Aston Villa star and England hero Olle Watkins

1 hour ago

'I swapped my £31 mascara for this £8 alternative and it's my new favourite'

1 hour ago

Veteran Who Came Out at 90 Celebrates First Wedding Anniversary with Husband: 'I'm Very Happy' (Exclusive)

1 hour ago

Premier League battles that could decide Euro 2024 final: Rice vs Rodri and Saka vs Cucurella

1 hour ago

Tears flow for Wimbledon champion Barbora Krejcikova

1 hour ago

Rightmove's rule is no longer safe as houses, say hedge funds

1 hour ago

‘Big Teddy’ Riner guns for third individual judo gold on home soil at Paris 2024

1 hour ago

Brooks' pick-up stuns Knights

1 hour ago

NRL Highlights: Sea Eagles v Knights - Round 19

1 hour ago

Pogacar v Vingegaard has makings of the finest Tour soap opera of them all

1 hour ago

Harry Kane's England retirement plan after Euro 2024 final amid final tournament fears

1 hour ago

'Unacceptable' original lyrics to Three Lions which almost saw song banned

1 hour ago

Italian tax police free 33 Indian workers from 'slave-like' conditions on farms

1 hour ago

Sheldon Creed and Brandon Jones battle on Lap 1 for the lead

1 hour ago

What Dontae Manning taught me about covering college football

1 hour ago

Shoppers hail 'flattering' White Stuff dress with pockets and over 1,000 five-star reviews

1 hour ago

Liverpool lining up 45m machine whod be their best DM since Fabinho

1 hour ago

'Minions 3' set for June 2027 release

1 hour ago

Inside North Korean summer camp where kids get drunk on rice vodka and perform 'weird rituals'

1 hour ago

City loses SCA appeal in land invasions case

1 hour ago

World number one irrelevant as Ireland’s Andy Farrell basks in Springbok victory

1 hour ago

Kate Mall: First ASEAN-themed lifestyle, retail destination in Qatar holds Family Day event

1 hour ago

Egypt denies rumours of Suez Canal sale for $1 trillion

1 hour ago

Tesla Model 3 Performance Owner Tries Hyundai Ioniq 5 N

1 hour ago

Amazon Prime Day deals are almost here. Should you take advantage of them?

1 hour ago

Novak Djokovic is 37 and had knee surgery last month but faces Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final

1 hour ago

Foord sits out Matildas' pre-Games loss to Canada

1 hour ago

Vladimir Putin humiliation after Ukrainian anglers knock out drone with a fish

1 hour ago

Listen to Roger Glover’s isolated bassline on Deep Purple’s Highway Star

ALONGWALKER VIETNAM: Kênh khám phá trải nghiệm của giới trẻ, thế giới du lịch ALONGWALKER INDONESIA: Saluran untuk mengeksplorasi pengalaman para pemuda global