No drama if Italy flop in Na­tions League: Mancini

Gulf Times Sport - - FOOTBALL -

Mi­lan: Roberto Mancini in­sisted yes­ter­day that it would not be a drama if Italy flop in the Na­tions League as his ob­jec­tive re­mains be­ing com­pet­i­tive for the 2020 Eu­ro­pean cham­pi­onships.

Mancini took over as Italy coach last May af­ter the four­time world cham­pi­ons failed to qual­ify for the World Cup in Rus­sia. But since then they have won just one game — a friendly against Saudi Ara­bia — and are bot­tom of their Na­tions League A Group 3 with one point from two games.

“Our aim is to be ready for Euro 2020,” said the for­mer Manch­ester City and In­ter Mi­lan coach ahead of to­day’s game against Poland in Chor­zow. “If we lose to­mor­row, not much re­ally changes. It’s not as if we’ll miss out on the Eu­ros and never play again. It can hap­pen to Eng­land, to Croa­tia, or Hol­land. The Na­tions League was cre­ated just so coun­tries wouldn’t un­der­es­ti­mate friendly matches. I don’t see the need to make a drama out of it.”

Italy were held 1-1 by the Poland in Bologna last month and have also lost

1-0 to Eu­ro­pean cham­pi­ons Por­tu­gal. To­day’s game will be a clash to avoid third place and rel­e­ga­tion into League B. But Mancini dis­missed crit­i­cism by Ital­ian de­fender Leonardo Bonucci that things have got­ten worse since their fail­ure to qual­ify for the World Cup. Italy were held 1-1 by the Ukraine in a friendly last Wed­nes­day in Genoa. “I don’t think that our foot­ball is zero or be­low zero,” said the 53-year-old for­mer Italy in­ter­na­tional.

“Our foot­ball is tech­ni­cally at a time when we are try­ing to re­build a team af­ter the World Cup. It has hap­pened to all na­tions, and to Italy now, we must be pa­tient and roll up our sleeves. We are work­ing and I think that soon we will have a great team that will make us proud.”

“When we started, the tar­get was to re­con­struct the side and make a de­cent im­pres­sion in Na­tions League, but that’s it. The rest is work we’ll reap the re­wards of later on. It takes a lit­tle time, it’s not sim­ple, but we’re try­ing to find the group that can do great things for the Eu­ros.”

“It’s not a fi­nal, it’s not a play-off,” added cap­tain Gior­gio Chiellini of to­day’s game.

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