The matches in our group could have been quarter-final games, but we are Italy and we must act as Italy does. Luciano Spalletti has a clear vision, as he commented on the Euro 2024 group stage on the red carpet of the Gran Galà del Calcio, which will see the Azzurri face Spain, Croatia, and Albania.
‘All knots come to a head,’ the national coach explained, ‘and these are all matches we will have to play. No one will ever be happy to play against Italy: if we look at the situation through the eyes of others, finding Italy as a fourth-tier opponent is something that cannot make the other teams happy. We will have to show what level of team we are and what level of football we can display. So far, I have seen an Italy that, for 60-70 minutes in every match, has been an excellent team. But then we have to go forward, so we will have to complete what we have done so far. When you step into the ring, the match is not decided with the first punch. We will have to show what our best qualities are and maintain them for 100 minutes.’ He also had thoughts on individual players, particularly on Scamacca, who is coming back from an injury: ‘Does that worry me? Nothing worries me, there are solutions from many sides. Then it's up to the players to put their noses to the grindstone and show what they are made of.'
'I live for this, I left my family to be with the ball from morning till night,' Spalletti continued from the stage where he went up to receive the award for the best coach of the past season, 'now coaching the national team for me is like being in paradise.' The European Championship is about 200 days away: 'Is that a lot or a little? It depends,' added the coach, 'if we use the time we have well, it could be a lot, otherwise it's little. We will try to do everything possible, but now we also need some cooperation from the clubs. We have to find time and Italy must be dear to everyone. We must try to play relational football: from my Napoli everyone remembers the action where 10 players returned to defense to recover after a poorly taken corner, with Osimhen arriving first to help. In that group, there were no jealousies and nothing could undermine a team like that, I want to bring this culture: create a team with a strong mind and make it clear that we are doing everything for Italy'
'Inter is mature, first place deserved'
Not only the national team, but the coach also spoke about the league's progress: 'At this moment, for what it has shown, it's right that Inter is first in the standings. I see many qualities,' continued Spalletti, 'the Nerazzurri are a mature team, that is in rapport and in relation. There is physical football, technical football, and relational football: it seems to me that Inter has all these characteristics, even in the behavior among the players. Napoli? I receive an award for winning last season's championship, and Napoli is the team that allowed me to be here. Yesterday the Azzurri played a good game against a very strong team and, from what was seen, I believe that the final result is not real.' During the ceremony, Spalletti also met his former president, Aurelio De Laurentiis, and the two stopped to chat before parting with a hug.
In closing, Spalletti returned to talk about the triumphant year at the helm of Napoli: 'It was all very beautiful,' concluded the Italian national team coach, 'because, as De Laurentiis has already said, an incredibly collaborative team emerged where everyone motivated each other and were proud of their teammates' plays. It was beautiful to see them in the locker room, I had to do little, the boys were good at understanding why we were there and for whom we had to play. In addition to great footballers, last year's team was a team of real men about whom we will hear for a long time. Then there's the president who is good at motivating others: when I arrived, the first thing he told me was 'I have already come in second'. When you go to coach a team that often lately had been in the Champions League or cups, you have to try to win, there are no alternatives'.