Ince on Italy EURO 2024 chances and why Barella is ‘not world class’

Ince on Italy EURO 2024 chances and why Barella is ‘not world class’
Ince on Italy EURO 2024 chances and why Barella is ‘not world class’

Former Inter star Paul Ince explains why you can ‘never discount’ Italy at EURO 2024 and which players he’d poach to join England, but insists Nicolò Barella is not yet ‘world class.’

The tournament kicks off this evening with hosts Germany against Scotland in Munich at 20.00 UK time.

As for the Azzurri, they are in a group with Albania, Spain and Croatia, with their opening game on Saturday evening.

“I actually think that what is so exciting about this year’s tournament is that there are 4-5 teams that can win it. I believe that,” Ince told The Italian Football Podcast.

“If you look at the French squad, from back to midfield to attack, they are very, very strong. England for me defensively are weak. Obviously losing Harry Maguire. But they have got some proper attacking players like Phil Foden, Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham and players like that. So attacking-wise England are very strong.

“I watched the Dutch, they looked good. They disposed of Iceland 4-0 which is a team that beat England at Wembley 1-0 last week. You should never do comparisons like that but I just like the way play, they create a lot of chances.

“And I also have got the Germans. I just think they have had such a bad last 2-3 tournaments getting knocked out early, but the Germans at home are strong. Don’t care what anyone says, they have good fans, fantastic stadiums and Nagelsmann has a good squad.

“I want England to win the tournament, but it’s not as easy as people seem to think. But if England can’t win it, then I think Germany will.”

Despite being the reigning Champions of Europe, Italy seem to always be left out of the conversation to lift the trophy again this summer.

“Italy know how to defend. If you look at how Inter Milan play, the 3-5-2, they are disciplined defenders at a unit. That is something a lot of teams haven’t got. If you look at their players they’ve got, I like Barella, I think he is fantastic. Jorginho who has done ever so well at Arsenal.

“Also Giorgio Scalvini, I think he is going to be a superstar, shame he is injured though. But you’ve got Gianluca Scamacca up front who is finding his feet at Atalanta.

“They are the holders of the tournament, and here we are saying they’re not one of the favourites, so you can’t ever discount the Italians. I just think from a quality point of view to go all the way, but they are going to be a tough opponent for everyone who plays them.”

Ince on Italy talent and Barella doubts

If Ince had to poach two Italy players for the England squad, he would choose two from Inter, but stops short of calling Barella world class just yet.

“I think we use the term world class very loosely. I think Barella is a very, very good player, got potential to be a great player. But world class? I’m not too sure, but listen I think he has been awesome for Inter. But to be a world class player you have to perform at the EURO’s and World Cups.

“I also like Alessandro Bastoni, I think he’s a top, top player. I really like Federico Dimarco too, I think he’s a very good player. But what you’ve got is experience, with Jorginho in midfield.

“You’ve also got Scamacca, but he has to do it now. I wouldn’t say he failed at West Ham, I just think he didn’t fit into the system, but he’s getting service now at Atalanta. And the boy can finish, like we saw at Anfield against Liverpool where he gave Van Dijk problems.”

Scamacca helped Atalanta to win the Europa League, reach the Coppa Italia Final and qualify for the Champions League with a fourth-place Serie A finish, scoring 19 goals and providing eight assists in 44 competitive games this season.

He seems to have supplanted Mateo Retegui to lead the line for Italy this summer.

“I would take Barella and Bastoni for England without a doubt. Especially Bastoni with the problems we have in defence, and Barella would give us a different dimension. So if you don’t mind lending us those two that would be great [laughs].”

Ince still keeps an eye on his old club and would love to see Inter start a winning era in Italy.

“In England we see Manchester City winning every year, I think we could see something similar in Italy. That would make me very happy and long may it continue.”