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Italy boss Spalletti admits the class is there with Spain

Italy coach Luciano Spalletti admits there is a ‘gap’ between the reigning European champions and their Group B winners Spain.

While 55th Riccardo Califiori’s own goal in the second minute was the only thing that separated the teams, Spain wasted a number of chances during the woodwork, and Gianluca Donnarumma made several saves for Italy.

The result left Spain through to the Round of 16 as group winners while Italy face the prospect of a group stage exit if they lose to Croatia on Monday night in Leipzig.

Spalletti, who was in charge of his first tournament less than a year after Roberto Mancini, told “There was too much of a gap. They created more problems for us than what the score line says, let’s not beat around the bush.”

He added: “We were busy, especially playing the ball at the top of the defense. When we won the ball back, we struggled to hold it; when they won the ball back, we struggled to get it back.

“We struggled with their counter-press but we also made some simple mistakes on some simple passes, and you can’t do that.”

Spalletti admitted that he would like his players to be able to perform as well as Spain, saying that they are at the level of style football at the moment.

“Everyone would like to imitate Spain in the way they play,” he said. “They have been playing the best football for a long time.

“I must try to be successful in informing my players how important this type of game is, because if you are always deep when you are facing teams like this, in the end it becomes very difficult.

“We needed to keep the ball like we did in our previous games. We needed to keep the ball and try to play. That’s the only way to play.”

The former Napoli manager lamented his team’s poor performance, adding: “That’s why this happened.” We needed to fix things but the main reason we struggled was because we were lazy.

“Spain are a team tonight and we couldn’t be a team. We deserved to win, we were never in the game except for the last 20 minutes.

“If a number of players are not at the top, it becomes very difficult. As it was, we allowed Spain to completely dominate the cases, and to do so freely. “

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