Roberto Mancini is confident there is more to come from Euro 2020 semi-finalists Italy after they dumped Belgium out of the competition.
The Italians dispensed with FIFA’s number one-ranked team in a 2-1 quarter-final victory in Munich on Thursday night as they continued to fight their way back from the disappointment of failing to qualify for the last World Cup in Russia.
Asked at his post-match press conference afterwards what he had seen in his team to persuade him better times were around the corner, head coach Mancini said: “The team has progressed game in, game out. Even when there have been tricky matches, the team has always got better – and there is still room for improvement.
“That’s what I saw in my squad, the desire to play well, to try to bounce back after the disappointment of not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup – it was all of those ingredients. But we can still do better.”
Italy will now head into a last-four showdown with Spain at Wembley on Tuesday with Mancini confident they have what it will take to progress.
He said: “First and foremost, we will go to Wembley safe in the knowledge that we are a team that can still offer a lot in this tournament.
“We know that we will be up against top-class opposition once again because Spain, like Belgium, are very tricky opponents.
“But it’s very important that we rest up before this semi-final and get ready for it.”
Mancini’s men secured their passage in a thrilling first half during which Nicolo Barella fired them ahead and Lorenzo Insigne doubled their advantage before Romelu Lukaku reduced the deficit from the penalty spot.
However, they had to defend for dear life as Belgium fought desperately for a way back into the game, and although they managed to get across the finishing line, the win came at a cost with defender Leonardo Spinazzola leaving the field on stretcher with a muscle injury which seems certain to end his tournament.
Mancini said: “He’s been one of the best players at Euro 2020 and we are absolutely gutted and we would like to send him our best wishes.”
Belgium were once again left to reflect upon what might have been with manager Roberto Martinez expressing his sadness for his players.
He said: “The feelings are what you can imagine really, sadness and disappointment because I don’t think these players deserve to be out of this tournament.
“They have done an incredible job to be prepared, to be ready, to go step by step every day from the beginning of the tournament. Today, we faced a very good side and unfortunately, the margins didn’t go in our favour.”
Asked about his own future, Martinez added: “It is very difficult to speak about anything else other than the defeat and that we are out of the Euros. At the moment, it’s still too raw and I don’t want to say anything that could be emotional.”