Conte wants patience as Italy rebuild

Share this article

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will be back to his starting line-up in Tuesday's friendly against England. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP
08:19 CEST+02:00
Italy coach Antonio Conte has called for patience from critics ahead of a friendly against England which he hopes will give him an idea of much work is still required for his side to be competitive at next year's European Championships.

The 45-year-old can at least expect a warm welcome from the Juventus supporters in the crowd on Tuesday as he guided the club to three Serie A titles before taking over from Cesare Prandelli in the wake of a second successive first-round exit from the World Cup last year.

However, it has been anything but a smooth transition.

The former Italy international midfielder's demands to have more access to the national squad have been batted away by Serie A clubs and recent reports claimed Conte's request to be able to coach Italy part-time while coaching a club were denied.

On the pitch, Italy remain unbeaten in competition following their early exit from Brazil with three wins and two draws from five Euro 2016 qualifiers so far, but the Azzurri are far from the finished article.

While Conte said he expects the encounter to be of value, he stressed Italy remain a work in progress.

"These games against top sides like England help us because as a squad we have to grow. It will give us a chance to see all our players in action and show us what they have," Conte told media in Turin on Monday.

"Right now we're trying to work to create something positive but people have to wake up and realize that a major generational change is going on in this squad.

"The young guys coming in need time, and support. It's not going to happen overnight.

"The Euros are next year so we don't have a lot of time. But to achieve any dream, you have to work really, really hard. And that's what we're trying to do."

Conte welcomes number one goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon back to his starting line-up after he missed their 2-2 Euro 2016 qualifying draw with Bulgaria on Saturday due to fever.

Buffon said: "It hasn't been the most relaxing of times for the squad recently.

"But it's much better to have this kind of nervous energy than a general feeling of apathy, which in general leads you on the road to defeat."

Italy have made changes throughout their five-man midfield as well, although the focus will be on the inexperienced strike partnership of Brazil-born Sampdoria striker Eder and Graziano Pelle of Southampton

Eder came off the bench to hit an 84th minute leveller for Italy in Sofia, in the process silencing the critics who hit out at his call-up alongside Argentinian-born Palermo forward Franco Vazquez.

Story continues below…

Conte - who spent 13 trophy laden years at Juventus as a player picking up amongst other silverware five Serie A titles and the Champions League crown in 1996 - said it had been a very emotional moment to return to the ground where he experienced so much success as coach.

"Obviously I had very strong emotions today, coming back to the stadium, walking into the dressing room and on to the pitch. Yes, it was very emotional," remarked Conte.

"I had three fantastic years here, and so there's a lot of great memories.

"I'm curious to see how we fare against England. But national games are always tough. You saw that against Bulgaria, although we deserved a lot more from that game than we got."

Share this article

From our sponsors

Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections

Election Day in the U.S. is less than a month away, and time is running out for Americans living overseas to vote absentee. Here's what to do before it’s too late.


Popular articles