Soccer-Tired Italy outclassed by superior Spain - Spalletti

soccer-tired italy outclassed by superior spain - spalletti

Soccer Football - Euro 2024 - Group B - Spain v Italy - Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen, Germany - June 20, 2024 Italy coach Luciano Spalletti REUTERS/Leon Kuegeler

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (Reuters) - Italy' lack of freshness was punished by the technical ability of an exciting Spain and the 1-0 scoreline in Thursday's Euro 2024 clash did not reflect the dominance of their opponents, according to manager Luciano Spalletti.

Spain will top Group B with one game to spare, but they could easily have won by a much bigger margin, with nine shots on target from 20 compared to Italy's one from only four shots over the 90 minutes.

"It's a result they deserved, beyond the one-goal difference. They deserved to win it, we were never in the game," Spalletti told reporters.

"Besides the final 20 minutes of the match we were never able to create situations which would allow us to actually compete against a brand of football of this level.

"They caused us problems larger than the scoreline suggested, lets not beat around the bush. Spain were a team tonight and we weren't able to be a team."

Spalletti spoke of a tired Italy, who could not cope with an energetic Spain side, and need to recover before their next game against Croatia.

"Maybe I needed to give them more rest, I probably need to give them more days off, we gave them a day and a half off in terms of rest and we saw that was the right decision in terms of our data," Spalletti said.

"But there was too much of a gulf, we were constantly stretched, we probably didn't recover very well in terms of just how demanding and important the tournament was itself, because there was too much of a gulf in terms of sharpness and freshness.

"You can't necessarily talk about anything else, overall, if you don't have the same stamina as the opposition, obviously you can't do things with the same reactivity, the same speed of reaction."

Italy must avoid defeat by Croatia to guarantee progression in the tournament, and may take inspiration from Spain.

"Everyone would love to copy Spain in terms of the way they play. They've been playing the best football for the longest time now," Spalletti said.

"I need to try and succeed in making my players aware of how important this sort of match is, because if you sit very deep against teams like this, ultimately it becomes very difficult."

(Reporting by Trevor Stynes, editing by Ed Osmond)

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