Bernardeschi predicts four key Italy players against Spain

Bernardeschi predicts four key Italy players against Spain
Bernardeschi predicts four key Italy players against Spain

Toronto FC winger Federico Bernardeschi predicts four Italy players who can make the difference against Spain and defends his former Juventus teammate Alvaro Morata: ‘It’s crazy to criticise him.’

Bernardeschi, a EURO 2020 winner with Italy, previewed Thursday’s group stage game between Italy and Spain in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Azzurri beat Spain on penalties in the semifinals in the last edition of the European Championship.

“It was magnificent, even if it is probably the most difficult match I’ve ever played,” said Bernardeschi.

“Spain were really strong, just like now, and we were accustomed to having control of games, so we struggled. However, we were able to adapt, defend with a low block, and cover the space for their late runs. The Italian pride and the spirit of sacrifice did the rest. I hope the same spirit emerges this time. Spain is a tough side, but we aren’t weaker.”

Does he still talk to the members of that winning Italy team?

“All of them because we still have a WhatsApp chat,” he said.

“It’s a marvellous thing. As Gianluca Vialli used to say: ‘Once an Azzurro, forever an Azzurro.’ This proves how much the jersey weighs. The European title will unite us forever.”

The group’s unity was key to winning the trophy three years ago. Does he see the same attitude in this team?

“Absolutely, I see positive signals,” the ex-Juventus and Fiorentina winger replied.

“Italy works miracles when we find the right alchemy. Some videos they’ve sent me make me think they are creating it. They have to work and have fun.”

Bernardeschi predicts four key Italy players against Spain

So, what will Italy need to beat Spain and go all the way until the end of the tournament?

“We need more self-esteem. We are accustomed to looking at others, but we should have more confidence. I hear about Italian football struggling, but I don’t see that. We won the Euros, many teams reached European Finals and Atalanta won the Europa League. We aren’t that bad.”

Which players can make the difference against La Roja? Is Federico Chiesa among them?

“I always expect it from Fede, but I think the midfield will be key. Barella and Jorginho will have to defend and Spain can struggle against Frattesi’s late runs.”

Gigi Buffon has had a crucial role off the field as Italy’s delegation chief.

“Buffon is Buffon. Just the name is a certainty,” noted Bernardeschi.

“He is as important as Vialli for us. Any advice can make a difference. One like him helps all understand the moments. Lough and joke when it’s appropriate and work hard when it’s time to do so. Buffon knows the importance of the jersey and knows how to pass on this feeling.”

On the other hand, Spain fans have been critical of another former teammate of Bernardeschi, ex-Juventus star Morata.

“He’s been unfairly criticised despite being a top-class player. He is 31, he’s the Spain captain and he’s won so much. It’s crazy to criticise him. Pay attention to him and Yamal. If he’s there at 16, it means that he belongs to a different category.”

Where can Italy get in this tournament?

“I don’t like to make predictions, but I only tell the guys to enjoy this marvellous ride without setting limits for themselves,” concluded Bernardeschi.

“I believe that conceding that we will benefit from conceding that early goal against Albania. We made silly mistakes in the pre-tournament friendlies, and it will help us raise the attention level.”