Monday 23 October 2017

Conte shows fiery side with Spain test up next for Italy

Italy's coach Antonio Conte attends a training session. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/Getty Images
Italy's coach Antonio Conte attends a training session. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/Getty Images

Ian Herbert

Antonio Conte launched a bizarre attack on a journalist who asked him about his Italy team's next opponents, providing a taste of the fiery temperament expected when he arrives to take over at Chelsea after the European Championship finals.

Conte's side have an unenviable projected journey through the Euro 2016, facing Spain next and Germany if they beat them - and Conte did not take well to being asked a perfectly reasonable question about the threat the Spanish posed on Monday.

"We've just finished a very tough, physical encounter so I think it is a little too early," Conte (below) said, his answer seeming temperate at first but then gradually displaying more irritation.

"We are definitely playing against one of the best sides in the world, so what do you want me to say? 'They are rubbish?'

"What do you want me to say? We are coming up against one of the best sides in the world. End of story.

"I'm not some kind of visionary who has come down from the moon and thinks Spain are some kind of sparring partner..."

Italy's head coach did not have a smile on his face as he spoke.

Conte's side were poor - lacking ambition and allowing Ireland a vast amount of possession, though the Italian said Martin O'Neill's side had been rewarded "perhaps more than they deserved to" with their 1-0 victory.

He added: "The opposition's physical approach was typical of their brand of football.

"It was a very physical contest against a side that played a lot of long balls, made heavy, powerful challenges, second balls.

"The pitch [which was so poor it is now being relayed] helped them a lot more in this situation than it did us. I don't think they deserved to win. A draw would have been a fair result."

Of the difficult route to navigate now, he said: "It's a pretty problematic road to the final. But that's how it is. Those are the rules."

Asked what would constitute a good tournament, he said: "I don't know. It's up to you guys to judge because you are here to judge us. It will be up to you whether we have had a positive or a negative tournament."

Irish Independent

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