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Concern as Azzurri are in poor state


Antonio Conte. Photo: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

Antonio Conte. Photo: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

Antonio Conte. Photo: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

An Italian-born manager of a national team who is under fire for being too conservative, who has already decided on the players he will bring to the European Championship finals and who is accused of ignoring bright young talent so he can stick with his favourites.

Shades of Giovanni Trapattoni circa 2012, then, around the current Italy set-up as major questions are being asked about the state of their national team ahead of Euro 2016. Antonio Conte's side are now four games without a win, but heavy defeats in friendly games to Belgium (3-1) and earlier this week Germany (4-1) have sparked concern.

A comment like "I can't reprimand the lads who had given everything they can in terms of effort, will and determination" can be expected from the manager of a national team like Ireland after a friendly loss, but Italy fans and the unforgiving Italian media are not used to hearing those words from their boss.

Just as Trapattoni showed his hand by effectively picking his squad and team months in advance of Euro 2012, Conte - who leaves the job after the Euros - says he will only pick from the players currently available.

"I will make my evaluations based on what I have seen on the pitch, without getting carried away about the Spain performance or making a drama out of what happened against Germany," he said. "I will monitor what happens until the end of the championship and then try to make the right choices. However, these are the players we are choosing from. In the next six weeks we won't pull anything different out of the hat."