Italy youngsters please Prandelli
Cesare Prandelli was quick to praise his new-look Italy side despite overseeing a 2-1 friendly defeat to England in Berne last night.
Daniele De Rossi was one of a handful of players remaining from the selection that progressed beyond the Three Lions in the UEFA European Championships as Prandelli opted for a youthful starting XI. The Roma midfielder, at 29 the second oldest player in last night's Azzurri side, dutifully opened the scoring with a bullet header.
Roy Hodgson's men rallied to claim victory, though, thanks to goals from Phil Jagielka and Jermain Defoe. Friendly game or not, England revelled in avenging their quarter-final exit in Kiev but Prandelli felt the nature of the loss was harsh on his experimental team.
The Italy head coach told Gazzetta dello Sport: "It was an unjust defeat even if it allowed me to assess individuals. I've now seen some interesting and potentially important players. We have great options and I'm happy because it wasn't a straightforward match. They've responded well, though. Some of the youngsters are ready, some need to keep working hard during the season."
Striker Mattia Destro, a recent signing for Roma after hitting 12 goals for Siena last season, was one of eight Italy players handed their international debuts at the Stade de Suisse. Destro, Davide Astori and Stephan El Shaarawy earned first Nazionale caps as they started in Berne, with Federico Peluso, Andrea Poli, Ezequiel Schelotto, Diego Fabbrini and Manolo Gabbiadini all making their debuts as second-half substitutes.
Prandelli added: "Destro, for example, has played a key role throughout a full season and that experience puts him ahead of others who have good qualities but still need to work hard on what they do lack. He could play alongside (Mario) Balotelli, that would work, it could be instrumental to our game."
Torino defender Angelo Ogbonna, 24, and playmaker Marco Verratti of Paris St Germain were also singled out for praise. "We know what Ogbonna can do and he's a great player, with a big personality," Prandelli said. "I need to work out where Verratti is best suited. He's not just a 'Pirlo Mark Two' but a more well-rounded midfielder."
Speaking briefly to RaiSport, he added: "Defeats in friendly games can also be brutal but they serve a purpose."