Conte speaks at press conference ahead of Germany game: “We will face the best. We have the utmost respect, but not fear”

“We will play against the best with the utmost respect, but without fear”. Antonio Conte looked relaxed ahead of the second prestigious friendly in a six-day span. After taking on reigning European Champions Spain, the Azzurri will face World Champions Germany at the Allianz Arena in Munich tomorrow night (20:45 CEST). It was Conte who demanded these two glamorous friendlies in order to evaluate his team’s conditions, especially his younger players, who have been dealing with their very first international fixtures with the Azzurri.

“Germany’s defeat at the hands of England will make it tougher,” explained Conte, “They will be even more determined and focused, but that’s exactly what I was looking for in these two games. We chose to play against two top teams to test ourselves and see where we’re at. These are important matches to assess the responses of some younger players who lack international experience. This is the last friendly at my disposal to make a decision on some players who are only starting now to play games at this level. It is easy to praise a player after a good performance, but I need them to follow it up with other good games. That’s what I am looking for because I have to submit the definitive squad list in a month and a half. That’s why it is crucial to me that I can gather some impressions from tomorrow’s game, just like I did after the Spain friendly.”

Conte went on to talk about the decisions he is yet to make about the players to be included in the list for Euro 2016: “There are still a couple of open positions, although I already have my thoughts on this regard. I still have some assessments to make by the end of the domestic season.” Conte also specified that the call-ups of Thiago Motta and Jorginho were not the result of emergency due to injuries: “I wanted to assess them personally. Now that I have worked with them I regret the fact that I could not work with them for three consecutive days.” Italy received a lot of praise after the friendly against Spain, but in no way Conte has forgotten the criticism from the past: “I don’t think that a good performance against Spain can lead to a total change of mind.”

The formation will be the same seen against Spain: three forwards will line up in Munich too, but Conte will start younger players up front, with Bernardeschi, Zaza and Insigne in the attack: “It is the last game for me to make some evaluations, so it will be important to test some players other than those that I already know and that have more experience.”

There are only two and a half months to go until Euro 2016: “When I took this job, I said that our strength would be being a real team and not a mere group of individuals, and we have worked a lot in this regard. I want to thank all the players because they have shown great desire and awareness; I can tell you without hesitation that they have done much more than I expected. I honestly don’t know what we will achieve at the EUROs, but whatever result it will be, I know that we will have absolutely given our all.”

Schedule (all times CEST)

Monday, 28th March
10:30   Training session (behind closed doors)
16:30   Flight departure from Florence to Munich
17:50   Arrival in Munich and transfer to Allianz Arena
18:45   Training followed by press conference (coach and one player) and transfer to the hotel

Tuesday 29th March
20:45   Friendly GERMANY vs. ITALY at the Allianz Arena, followed by press conference and transfer to the airport
00:30   Departure charter flight from Munich to Milan and Rome