Italy face defending champions Spain in their last-16 tie at Euro 2016 Monday knowing that they are the underdogs, but coach Antonio Conte says his side are not ready to go home.
Spain’s surprise loss to Croatia in their final group match set up a repeat of the final from four years ago in which Italy were thoroughly outclassed as Spain triumphed 4-0.
Italy have not beaten Spain in a competitive match since 1994, yet Conte remains undaunted and says his side can cause Spain problems.
“You’ve got to try to work to upset the odds,” said Conte. “And I think this is the beauty of football and also of life – overcoming the odds.”
“When we will have the ball we will try to hurt them,” he added.
“I heard a lot about the defence and we are wary of all of them but I’m saying, ‘Okay, let’s also make Spain wary of us.’
“We are well organised in defence but we also have that organisation going forward. We will try to attack as well as we can.”
Conte added that although it would be tough, Italy were not going to be sacrificial lambs.
“I don’t want to go home, the lads don’t want to go home. We’re prepared, we’ve worked hard. We’re not here just to make up the numbers,” he said.
“If we reason, we will lose. We need to go beyond reason and get that thing out of us which makes us extraordinary, because ordinary will not be enough.
“I know I’ve got a group of extraordinary lads who are ready to face this last-16 game which, on paper, is an uphill struggle.”