Conte demands everything
BORDEAUX, France (AP):
Italy coach Antonio Conte has called on his players to do something "super-extraordinary" by beating Germany in the quarterfinals of the European Championship today.
Italy arrived in France with an aging team that had faced plenty of criticism back home. But they won Group E with a match to spare and beat two-time defending champions Spain 2-0 in the round of 16.
Next up is fierce foes Germany, who are seeking to add the European Championship crown to the World Cup they won in Brazil two years ago.
"At the beginning we had little credibility among everyone, both in the media at home and also abroad," Conte said yesterday. "Everyone knew that it's a dark moment for Italian football talent. But I think we are showing that with hard work, with organisation, with 23 great lads who work hard, who sacrifice themselves, we are trying to overcome obstacles that at the beginning seemed insurmountable.
Germany have never beaten Italy in a competitive match, with the Azzurri winning semi-finals in 2006 on their way to the World Cup triumph and at Euro 2012.
However, Germany humiliated Italy 4-1 in a friendly in Munich in March.
"They have grown a lot from that match," Conte said. "I think we have also grown a lot from that friendly. It was a friendly which taught us a lot of things."
Italy will likely be without key midfielder Daniele de Rossi, who is a doubt with a thigh injury.