Petkovic impressed by Italy midfielders

Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic admires Italy midfielders Marco Verratti and Nicolò Barella ahead of their Euro 2020 clash.

The Azzurri are in Group A with Turkey, Switzerland and Wales, kicking off on Friday.

Petkovic is no stranger to Italian football, having been the coach of Lazio.

“You could already tell when I was at Lazio seven or eight years ago that there was a more European attitude than the old Catenaccio ideal of Italian football,” Petkovic told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

“I remember Antonio Conte’s Juventus with this constant pressing, it was an effective style with lots of vertical passes. What they lack perhaps in Serie A is the tempo of European games, perhaps because of VAR, too many fouls and simulation. The model they ought to follow is Atalanta, who have a super modern approach.”

While at club level they are not doing well, Roberto Mancini’s Italy are unbeaten since September 2018 and won their last eight games in a row with 25 goals scored and zero conceded.

“They keep a good tempo and look after both attacking and defending. Mancini did a great job and he has a strong team with some fine individuals too,” continued Petkovic.

“Verratti has evolved so much and plays at the highest level. Barella is also doing great things and is a very modern midfielder. I had thought Ciro Immobile would lose his form in the post-season, but he seems to have rediscovered his scoring instinct.

“There are many young talents with promise, but without the old guys back in defence, it’d be a very different Italy team.”

Italy are the favourites to top the group, and also have home advantage, with Turkey, Wales and Switzerland challenging for qualification.

“It’s a group with a lot of hidden dangers, because everyone in there thinks they can qualify. Italy are objectively out in front, especially with their recent results, but we can target second place and nothing is to be taken for granted.

“We must respect our opponents, but also remember to focus on ourselves and try to dominate any opponent.”