Italy manager Antonio Conte says the Azzurri should be “extra proud” of beating defending champions Spain in the round of 16 at Euro 2016 on Monday.
Conte’s Italy used goals from Giorgio Chiellini in the 33rd minute and Graziano Pelle in second-half stoppage time to stun the 2008 and 2012 Euro winners at the Stade de France.
Conte was criticised at home and abroad for leaving some big names off his squad list for the competition but has made up for any lack of talent with tactical acumen, which was on full display against the Spaniards.
“It’s not the best era for Italian football so we can’t rely on great players, I’ve had a battle to make people realise this,” Conte said in his postgame news conference. “Spanish football is in rude health so we should be extra proud of beating them.”
Italy will face defending world champions Germany in the quarterfinal stage, and it didn’t take long for Conte to shift his focus onto the next daunting challenge ahead for his side.
“We’re going to need something super-extraordinary for that game, not just extraordinary. From tomorrow we’ll start to think of Germany. Like I say, for me Germany are on a higher level to everybody.”
Joachim Low’s men easily eliminated Slovakia on Sunday with one of the best displays by any team in the tournament so far.
“We now face the best side at the European Championship next Saturday. It’s going to be very, very hard in all aspects. We’ve got to do well to recover and prepare it the best way we can.”
Daniele de Rossi was subbed off in the 53rd minute with an apparent injury. His replacement, Thiago Motta, was cautioned in the 89th minute and will miss the Germany clash due to yellow card accumulation.
Conte said: “We are without Thiago Motta and that’s a big blow, also because De Rossi took a knock to his hip. But we know that in adversity, we give that little bit more.”