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Little Italy lucky to avoid total collapse against Spain, say Italian papers

LEIPZIG, Germany : The Italian press were in full agreement with manager Luciano Spalletti's damning assessment of his country's 1-0 loss to Spain on Thursday in Euro 2024, a scoreline which in no way reflected Spain's utter domination of the game.

Riccardo Calafiori's own goal was the only difference between the sides on the scoresheet, but the gulf in class was apparent to all, as a young, exciting, Spanish side threatened to run riot against what Spalletti described as a tired Italy.

"Little Italy" was the headline in La Gazzetta dello Sport which greeted Italians on Friday morning, a clear indication of just how the Spanish had overrun Spalletti's jaded looking team.

The front page also told how "the Azzurri were never in the game", that keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma prevented a total collapse as Spain dominated Italy, but with a note of hope; "a draw with Croatia will be enough".

Former Italy and AC Milan manager Arrigo Sacchi, writing for La Gazzetta dello Sport, said that the difference between the two sides is enormous, but he feels that the manager is not at fault.

"(Spanish manager Luis) De la Fuente's national team plays dominant football, has technical and tactical knowledge, knows how to move and above all, does it with the right timings," Sacchi wrote.

"Italy, unfortunately, is not yet a team: it takes time, it takes patience. We should learn a lot from this defeat, and I hope that we will try to learn from the mistakes we have made and not be caught up in the usual presumption.

"Let's make one thing clear right away: Spalletti is not to blame. He is a coach who has been working for less than a year, he has inherited a complicated situation and is trying to give a style to a country that has never had one."