Italy's Spalletti shrugs off loss of Acerbi from Euro squad



Sat, 01 Jun 2024 - 06:50 GMT


Sat, 01 Jun 2024 - 06:50 GMT

Italy coach Luciano Spalletti during the press conference REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

Italy coach Luciano Spalletti during the press conference REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

(Reuters) - Italy manager Luciano Spalletti shrugged off the loss of experienced defender Francesco Acerbi to injury as his side assembled for the first day of training on Friday ahead of Euro 2024.


The 36-year-old Inter Milan defender pulled out of Spalletti's 30-man preliminary squad on Thursday with groin pain.


"If we make problems straight away about who is missing then we are off to a bad start," Spalletti told a press conference at Italy's Coverciano base in Florence. "We have everything we need to do well."


Spalletti must reduce the squad to 26 by June 7 but he told the press conference: "It doesn't mean that because Acerbi is out that we need to necessarily exclude a midfielder or forward.


"We have many defensive choices, so the exclusions could come from any sector."


Spalletti defended his decision to pick Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagioli, who has returned from a seven-month ban for breaching rules on betting on matches, as well as forward Gianluca Scamacca, despite labelling him lazy.


Fagioli, who has made just one appearance for Italy, returned for the final two games of the league season, after spending most of the campaign on the sidelines.


"Fagioli is first and foremost a technical choice, he has quality, creativity and flair," Spalletti said.


"If you look at his sins, I think he deserves a bit of understanding; he didn't bet on his own games but because he was in the grip of a moment of difficulty and he couldn't defend himself against this temptation."


Scamacca missed the friendly games in March, when Spalletti complained about players on international duty staying up until four o'clock in the morning playing video games.


Since then, Scamacca has shown an improvement in form, helping Atalanta to win the Europa League, scoring twice against Liverpool at Anfield in the quarter-finals and netting six goals in his last seven league games of the season.


"I didn't like Scamacca in some respects and that's why I left him out in March. If you don't give more than your best it becomes difficult to take on the strongest," Spalletti said.


"But then he showed this growth, the goals, more consistency than on other occasions and Atalanta also benefited a lot from his new attitude.


"I had called him up the previous times because Scamacca has a bit of everything, even if he's a bit lazy. He needs to lose that but perhaps he already has."


Spalletti confirmed goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma as captain, and revealed what he had said to his players when they gathered for camp.


"I told the team this morning that we had to be clear about one thing," he said.


"We have to make it clear to everyone that we are proud to wear the Azzurri jersey because it is the jersey in which an entire country recognises itself."


Italy, drawn with Spain, Croatia and Albania in Group B at Euro 2024, which starts on June 14, will play Turkey in a friendly on Tuesday and Bosnia & Herzegovina on June 9.



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