Italy ready to compete against Europe's best - Evani

By Sports Desk November 18, 2020

Italy are ready to test themselves against Europe's best sides after booking a place in the Nations League finals, says stand-in boss Alberigo Evani.

The Azzurri beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-0 at the Grbavica Stadium on Wednesday to finish one point better off than the Netherlands at the top of Group A1.

Italy are now unbeaten in 22 matches, which is their best run with defeat since  2006 - when they won the World Cup.

Belgium, Spain and world champions France are also through to next October's finals, likely to be staged in Italy, and Evani is excited by the prospect of taking on Europe's elite.

"It will be nice to compare ourselves against some of the best sides around," he told RAI Sport. "We are talking about the best in Europe and we can't wait to see our level. 

"We think we are close to competing with them, but we will have to see when we facing them next year."

Andrea Belotti and Domenico Berardi were on the scoresheet in Sarajevo as Italy made it three wins from three without conceding in their November fixtures.

All three of those matches have been without head coach Roberto Mancini in the dugout following his positive test for coronavirus, with assistant Evani taking temporary charge.

After seeing off Bosnia-Herzegovina to accomplish the mission of prolonging their Nations League campaign, Evani dedicated Italy's latest win to Mancini.

"We speak to him every day - he knows exactly what is going on," Evani said. "These guys have given him a nice gift and great satisfaction.

"The boys have been wonderful. They have done all this without the coach present. They are an extraordinary group.

"I would like to say thanks to them for giving everything for the shirt and getting three wins with three convincing performances. I can only say thanks to all of them."

Berardi's goal was his 10th for Italy, making him the 35th different player to reach double figures, while Berardi's was his third of 2020 - more than any other Azzurri player.

Despite not finding the net himself, Lorenzo Insigne was arguably Italy's best player as he registered an unrivalled four key passes, including a delightful assist for Belotti's opener.

The Napoli forward was pleased with the overall display of his side in what was their final outing for at least four months.

"We knew this was going to be a difficult match," he said. "We did well to approach it fired up. It wasn't just a great performance technically and tactically, but also in terms of mentality.

"The coach wants us to play our football wherever we go and that is the mentality we've really embraced. This is a jersey to be honoured every time and we give our all for Italy."

Related items

  • LeBron's Lakers extend record after taking down Giannis and Bucks, Curry's 30 not enough LeBron's Lakers extend record after taking down Giannis and Bucks, Curry's 30 not enough

    The Los Angeles Lakers stayed perfect on the road after beating the Milwaukee Bucks 113-106 in the NBA on Thursday.

    LeBron James posted a season-high 34 points as defending champions the Lakers extended a franchise record after winning their eighth consecutive away game to start the season.

    James also tallied eight assists and six rebounds to help the Lakers – 8-0 on the road – bounce back from a loss in the first of a seven-game road trip, upstaging reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in the process.

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 23 points for the Western Conference-leading Lakers (12-4) in Milwaukee, where the Bucks (9-6) dropped back-to-back games.

    Antetokounmpo's double-double of 25 points and 12 rebounds were not enough for the Bucks, who also had solid contributions from Jrue Holiday (22 points) and Khris Middleton (20 points).

     

    Curry stars

    Stephen Curry put up 30 points, but the Golden State Warriors still went down 119-104 at home to the New York Knicks. The two-time MVP moved into fourth place on the franchise's all-time games played list after making his 714th regular-season appearance, surpassing Paul Arizin. RJ Barrett's 28 points for the Knicks were a career high.

    Golden State's Eric Paschall scored his 1,000th career point in his 74th game, reaching the 1,000-point mark in the fewest amount of games played by a Warriors second round draft pick in the Modern Draft era (since 1966). Previously, Gilbert Arenas did so in 79 games.

    Donovan Mitchell's season-high 36 points fuelled the Utah Jazz's 129-118 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Mitchell was 11-of-19 shooting from the field, while he made six of eight three-point attempts. The Jazz have won seven straight games.

     

    Schroder struggles in Milwaukee

    Dennis Schroder failed to get going for the Lakers. The offseason recruit was just two of 10 from the field, while missing all three of his attempts from beyond the arc for four points in 33 minutes.

    Kelly Oubre Jr. did not perform much better for the beaten Warriors. His seven points were on two-of-11 shooting from the field at home to the Knicks. Oubre also missed all four of his three-point attempts.

     

    Steph with the behind-the-back pass

    While the Warriors were unable to claim the win, Curry produced a couple of highlight moments. His behind-the-back pass to set up Draymond Green for the three-pointer was the pick of the bunch.

     

    Thursday's results

    Los Angeles Lakers 113-106 Milwaukee Bucks
    Utah Jazz 129-118 New Orleans Pelicans
    New York Knicks 119-104 Golden State Warriors

     

    Celtics at 76ers

    The Boston Celtics (8-5) and Eastern Conference rivals the Philadelphia 76ers (10-5) will do battle again at Wells Fargo Center on Friday after Joel Embiid's 42-point double-double inspired Doc Rivers' team midweek.

  • Klopp dismisses Premier League title talk amid Liverpool slump Klopp dismisses Premier League title talk amid Liverpool slump

    Jurgen Klopp dismissed talk about the Premier League title race after Liverpool's surprise 1-0 loss to Burnley.

    Liverpool's 68-game unbeaten home league run came to an end after Ashley Barnes netted a late penalty.

    Reigning champions Liverpool have gone four league games without scoring and are winless in five, leaving them six points adrift of leaders Manchester United.

    Klopp said it would be ridiculous to discuss the title race given his side's form.

    "Look, how silly would that be if I sit here now, losing against Burnley, didn't score for the last three or four games – I don't know exactly – and now I talk about the title race? How silly would that be?" the Liverpool manager told a news conference.

    "It's just we have to win football games – it was always like this. For this we have to score goals, there is no doubt about it. That's what we have to change and have to do better. If things don't work, you have to work harder, do the right things more often, longer and more consistent, all these kinds of things.

    "But not talking like it is an easy situation, it's not. It shows a lot of things. It's incredible how consistent the boys were but that was never something that anybody should have taken for granted because now we see they are all human beings, that's how it is. And now I have to make clear about what we have to do in the right moments and then we will score goals again."

    Liverpool had 27 shots without scoring against Burnley, the most they have had in a single league match without finding the back of the net since April 2013.

    Klopp said his players were lacking some confidence amid their poor run of form.

    "We can do more with this group, we can play much better football, that is my concern. That is what I am thinking about," he said.

    "The confidence is not on the highest level, I think that is so obvious that I don't have to mention it – you can see it in specific moments. It is like 90 per cent of all what the boys did all of the time is still there, but the decisive 10 per cent in the moment is missing.

    "So, now we have to work on this decisive 10 per cent. That's how it is – we always work on them, but now we have to dig a little bit deeper to get them back."

    Liverpool face Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday before visiting Tottenham four days later.

  • Packers coach LaFleur wary of Brady as Rodgers and Green Bay eye Super Bowl Packers coach LaFleur wary of Brady as Rodgers and Green Bay eye Super Bowl

    Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur warned of Tom Brady's "great feel" ahead of the blockbuster NFC Championship Game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    It will be a battle of the titans when Aaron Rodgers leads the top-seeded Packers at home to Brady's Buccaneers, with a Super Bowl berth on the line on Sunday.

    Brady – a six-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots – will start his 14th conference championship when the Buccaneers travel to Lambeau Field.

    The 43-year-old superstar has more conference championship wins (nine) than any other quarterback has starts, per NFL Research.

    LaFleur is wary of the four-time Super Bowl MVP, telling reporters on Thursday: "I think every game plan is a little bit different, but he's got such a great feel.

    "He knows when to get the ball out. Whether you're rushing four or five it doesn't matter. If he feels that rush he gets the ball out of his hands and conversely, if you're rushing four and you're not hitting home he'll hold the ball as long as he needs to, to allow people to get open.

    "That's just one of those things that I think is tough to coach. Some guys have great feel in the pocket and that's a tremendous luxury when you have a guy like that."

    Not since winning Super Bowl XLV have the Packers reached the showpiece event – beaten by the San Francisco 49ers in last season's NFC Championship Game, having also lost title deciders in 2017 and 2015.

    Rodgers will play a conference title game at home for the first time in his stellar career following the Packers' 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round – his four previous NFC Championship appearances have been on the road.

    Green Bay's Rodgers – a Super Bowl champion in the 2010 season – recorded his 12th career playoff game with 250-plus passing yards and two-plus passing touchdowns against the Rams.

    According to NFL Research, the only other payers in NFL history with 10-plus such games are Brady (17), Joe Montana (12) and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (10).

    MVP favourite Rodgers also eclipsed Brett Favre for most playoff completions (439) in Packers history.

    Per Stats Perform, Rodgers has thrown for multiple passing TDs in eight consecutive postseason games, tied with Joe Flacco for the longest streak in history. Now with 233 in his career, Rodgers also passed Favre for the most touchdown passes thrown at Lambeau Field (regular and postseason).

    "I think when he speaks he is so well thought out in what he says and he has such a great delivery to our team I think everybody really, truly, takes it to heart," LaFleur said of the two-time MVP.

    "Obviously he's a huge part of our football team both on the field and in that locker room. I think those just kind of naturally occur, whatever feels natural in the moment. He's a guy that everybody on this football teams looks to in terms of that leadership role."

    On Rodgers and Brady, added: "They've seen everything. There's not a lot you can throw at them that they haven't seen. Now, the whole key is that I think a lot of times when you're playing quarterbacks like this you've got to make sure that you have identical looks, or shells, or contours and you're switching the picture on them on the snap of the ball. I think that's always imperative any time you're playing quarterbacks of this calibre."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.