Italian coach Roberto Mancini confirmed on Tuesday that he wants the Azzurri to extend their unbeaten run of record until after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, on the sidelines of his preparations to meet Spain in the semi-finals of the European Nations League.
Wednesday’s game at the “San Siro” stadium is the most difficult test for Italy since being crowned European champions in the final at the expense of England last summer.
Spain coach Luis Enrique said after announcing his squad that every game “brings Italy closer to losing”, but Mancini hopes to continue this streak with his country until after the World Cup in Qatar at the end of next year.
“We haven’t lost in 37 games, but we want to keep going that long,” he told reporters. It depends on us and our performance in the upcoming matches. We know we are a good team, but we have to keep working to keep winning.”
And he added: “Luis Enrique is right, sooner or later the loss will happen, unfortunately it is a matter of calculation. We hope to continue like this until December 2022, but I don’t think the task will be easy.”
The match will be a repeat of the last semi-final of the European Cup between the two teams, which Italy won on penalties after the end of the original and extra time with a 1-1 draw.
And Mancini had previously confirmed in an interview with the European Football Association (Wifa) that Spain was Italy’s toughest opponent in the continental championship, and believed the match was an opportunity to test his team against the best teams with the approach of the World Cup, knowing that Belgium and France will meet in Turin on Thursday in the other semifinals.
“It’s an important tournament,” said the former Manchester City coach. Obviously it comes after the European Championship and so the games may seem less important. These are matches between the four best teams in Europe and they help us improve.”
“We have to improve because we have young players who have to play important games,” added the 56-year-old. We have 14 months before the World Cup and during this period we have to learn how to play better.”