We have to improve - Mancini wants more from European champions Italy ahead of Spain rematch

By Sports Desk October 05, 2021

Roberto Mancini has insisted Italy "have to improve" ahead of their Nations League semi-final with Spain, despite the Azzurri winning Euro 2020 in July.

Italy are also unbeaten in their last 37 games - a world record - with 30 wins and seven draws across all competitions and friendlies since October 2018.

Mancini's men bested Spain in a penalty shoot-out in the last four of the European Championships after a 1-1 draw in regular time in a fixture that Spain dominated, enjoying 71 per cent possession.

The former Manchester City and Inter head coach believes Spain remain the superior side in terms of keeping the ball and feels his team can still get better in that department.

"We suffered in that [Euro 2020 semi-final against Spain]," Mancini said. "Spain put us in trouble in possession, they have been doing it for 20 years and on this, they are ahead of us.

"We have to improve this game situation, be faster. We have to improve, we also have young players who have to play important competitions. We have 14 important months and we have to play better and better, offensive and balanced.

"[The Nations League] is an important competition. It is clear that it comes after a European Championship and preparing in such a short time is not easy but they are two matches among the four best in Europe and we want to improve, that's for sure."

Mancini also responded to Luis Enrique's claim that the Azzurri's unbeaten streak would end eventually, agreeing with his counterpart.

"We always want to win, then we know it will depend on us," Mancini continued. "[Enrique's] right, sooner or later [we will lose]. We would like to go on like this until December 2022, but we know it won't be that simple."

If Italy best Spain again on October 6, they will face one of Belgium or France in the Nations League final at San Siro on October 10.

Related items

  • Lautaro Martinez agent rules out Inter exit: 'We're already at the top' Lautaro Martinez agent rules out Inter exit: 'We're already at the top'

    Lautaro Martinez will not leave Inter and is pleased by the return of Romelu Lukaku, his agent says.

    The Argentina forward has been linked with a host of clubs as former strike partner Lukaku returns to San Siro, including Tottenham and Chelsea, with Inter's attacking ranks having the potential to be bolstered further with the addition of free agent Paulo Dybala.

    However, despite considerable competition, Martinez's agent Alejandro Camano has made it clear his client will remain at the Nerazzurri and is delighted to reunite with Lukaku.

    "There's a link between them, that's evident. Wearing this shirt isn't for everyone," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "It's a great thing.

     

    "Lautaro is happy in Milan, he feels like he's at the centre of things, he's loved.

    "Why would we want to leave? To where? We're already at the top."

    Martinez was Inter's leading scorer in Serie A last season, when they finished second behind rivals Milan, and his tally of 21 goals was only bettered in the division by Lazio's Ciro Immobile (27) and Juventus' Dusan Vlahovic (24), who joined from Fiorentina in January.

    Inter commence their Serie A campaign on August 14 away to Lecce, with their first home game at San Siro coming the following week against Spezia.

  • Xavi Simons turns down new PSG deal, signs for PSV on permanent basis Xavi Simons turns down new PSG deal, signs for PSV on permanent basis

    Xavi Simons has turned down a new contract with Paris Saint-Germain, with confirmation on Tuesday he will leave for PSV on a permanent basis until 2027.

    Simons, who made 11 senior appearances for PSG since signing in 2019, was reportedly set to leave on a loan with the intent to develop and find an opportunity for regular first-team minutes.

    That reported loan deal had PSV as the eventual destination upon renewing with the Ligue 1 champions but, after spending his youth career at Barcelona and PSG, the talented 19-year-old will return to the Netherlands on a free transfer.

    The Eredivisie club confirmed Simons had the opportunity to extend with PSG but chose to work under new boss Ruud van Nistelrooy instead.

    "He was able to extend in France, but the youth international prefers PSV to the French champion, for whom he played nine games last season," a club statement said.

    "We have seen almost all the matches this season where he appeared at the kick-off," PSV director of football John de Jong added. "Besides all the international matches he played for the Oranje squad, we saw him live in the Youth League in Leipzig, Paris, Bruges, Manchester and against Sevilla.

    "In this he convinced us. Xavi has everything to grow into an important player for PSV. He would like to walk the path there with us."

    Simons is the latest in a long line of youth products to leave PSG instead of establishing themselves in the first team, joining the likes of Kingsley Coman, Christopher Nkunku and Moussa Diaby, along with less successful stories in Adil Aouchiche and Jean-Kevin Augustin.

    "After three wonderful years at the club, it’s time to say goodbye," Simons posted on Twitter. "I am very grateful to the coaches, the staff, my team-mates, and all the staff.

    "PSG will always be in my heart. For the fans: from the bottom of my heart, Thank you. I love you!"

  • Rumour Has It: Chelsea beat Arsenal and Barcelona to Leeds winger Raphinha Rumour Has It: Chelsea beat Arsenal and Barcelona to Leeds winger Raphinha

    Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is eager to bring in two attacking players this off-season following their third-place Premier League finish last term.

    The club's new owners are set to back Tuchel's plans, with the Blues linked to Raheem Sterling, Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele and Everton's Richarlison.

    However, Chelsea could be set for their first splash of the window by signing a superstar from Elland Road.

    TOP STORY – CHELSEA TO WIN RAPHINHA RACE

    Chelsea are set to win the race to sign Leeds United's Brazilian forward Raphinha claims The Guardian.

    Raphinha is being pursued by Arsenal and Barcelona along with the Blues, who are set to complete a £55million deal for the 25-year-old.

    The winger is contracted with Leeds until 2024 and may follow Kalvin Phillips out of Elland Road with the England midfielder set to complete his move to Manchester City.

     

     

    ROUND-UP

    - The Mail reports Chelsea are also interested in a move for Inter defender Milan Skriniar who has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain. L'Equipe claims that PSG's initial offer for the Slovakian was worth €50m.

    - Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches is eager to join PSG from Lille according to Le Parisien, with a €10m offer on the table. Sanches has one year remaining on his contract.

    - Univision reports that LAFC are not pursuing Atletico Madrid forward Luis Suarez amid speculation linking the Uruguayan with the MLS club after they recently landed Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini.

    - Milan are looking into swooping to sign Juventus' Paulo Dybala who has been heavily linked with Inter, claims RadioRadio.

    - Liverpool's Divock Origi is set to join Milan on a four-year deal pending a medical as widely reported by the Italian media.

    - Argentinean outlet Relevo reports that Angel Di Maria is set to sign a deal with Juventus on Wednesday, having left PSG as a free agent.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.