Italy need to learn killer instinct says Buffon after narrow win

Italy need to learn killer instinct says Buffon after narrow win

LEIPZIG, Germany - Italy managed to get a crucial 2-1 win in their opening Euro 2024 game against Albania on Saturday but their former goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon wants to see them learn to kill off games after they risked conceding a late equaliser.

Luciano Spalletti's side fell behind to Nedim Bajrami's goal in the first minute, the fastest ever scored at a European Championship, but within 15 minutes they had overturned the deficit through Alessandro Bastoni and Nicolo Barella.

"We did well, we showed that we're a balanced national team, which has awareness," 46-year-old Buffon, serving as head of delegation with the national team at the Euros, said at Italy's training base in Iserlohn.

"Despite a shocking start that could have been destabilising, we continued to grind the game. As the coach said, our strength is to stick to the game plan, we fully deserved the victory.

"Spalletti always tries to get the most out of what he has at his disposal, sometimes he uses the stick and sometimes the carrot, I think they are inevitable tools when you have to get the most out of the boys."

Reigning champions Italy impressed with their response to the early blow but were unable to find another goal to kill off the game, and were almost punished at the end when substitute Rey Manaj forced Gianluigi Donnarumma into a late save.

"The serenity with which we managed to recover after going behind, this was the strongest signal to take," Buffon said.

"But there is something to perfect - with a little more cynicism and anger we probably would not have risked seeing a fundamental victory almost fade away in the 90th minute."

Italy's next game is against Spain on Thursday, a side who also impressed in their 3-0 win over Croatia, and it is an opponent which brings back memories of Euro 2016, when Italy won their last-16 clash.

"It was a Spain perhaps at the end of a cycle, for age reasons," said Buffon.

"Ours, on the other hand, is a national team at the beginning of the cycle. I would like to think that in two years we will be at the top, but already, now, we can reach high levels of performance." REUTERS

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