Football

ESP Vs ITA, UEFA Euro 2024: Italy Will Not Underestimate Spain, Says Luciano Spalletti

Luciano Spalletti says Italy will be true to their identity but will not make the "huge mistake" of underestimating Spain in their heavyweight Group B clash

Italy head coach, Luciano Spalletti
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Luciano Spalletti says Italy will be true to their identity but will not make the "huge mistake" of underestimating Spain in their heavyweight Group B clash. (More Football News)

Italy opened Euro 2024 with a 2-1 win over Albania on Saturday, coming from behind after conceding the fastest goal ever scored in the tournament's history after 23 seconds.

Spain, meanwhile, cruised to a 3-0 victory over Croatia, leaving both sides joint-top of the group going into their meeting in Gelsenkirchen on Thursday.

The winner of the tie will take a big step towards qualifying top of the group, earning the theoretically easier pathway through the knockout stages.

Asked how Italy were planning to deal with the threat Spain posed, Spalletti instead chose to praise their opponents for their style of play.

"We have the utmost respect for Spain's history and prestige and the quality of this current crop of players," the head coach said. "But we mustn't think that you're better than you actually are. That would be a huge mistake.

"We are dressed in Giorgio Armani and Giorgio Armani is world-famous. So, we go there with the same suit, try and be true to our identity and play the same way.

"But, of course, we need to show the same desire as our opposition to test ourselves against one of the best footballing philosophies in world football.

"Once we are off the pitch, we need to make sure we have no regrets. We need to try and play our own game in our best clothes, but we are willing to scuff up our suit if required."

Spalletti was able to use Nicolo Barella in their opening game, with the midfielder starting and scoring after emerging as a major doubt through injury in the build-up to the tournament.

The 65-year-old was keeping his cards close to his chest about his team selection for Thursday's game.

"I've not had any news on who's starting for Spain," Spalletti added.

"It is one of the most important matches of my career. I've already been through some important games, but this is certainly one of those that's right up there.

"We all have a story to tell. And when the players get to my age, they will know that they need to have stories to tell, and this is one of those matches which could give them a tale to tell in the future."

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