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Mancini: ‘Holland used extra defender against  Italy’

Roberto Mancini has said the Azzurri can feel proud of their growing reputation. ‘It’s the first time in the history of football that Holland used an extra defender against Italy.’

The Nations League fixture ended 1-1 in Bergamo on Wednesday evening with Lorenzo Pellegrini’s goal cancelled out by Donny van de Beek.

“There is no problem with our attack. Sometimes you score goals at the end of an attacking move, sometimes you don’t, that’s football,” insisted the coach in his press conference.

“These have been 12 intense days, the lads played two tough games and deserved to win both, but they were against some strong opponents. A draw can happen, we had the clearest chances against a great side.”

Dutch coach Frank de Boer surprised Mancini by switching the traditional 4-3-3 formation to a 5-3-2, a reaction to the dominant Italy performance in Amsterdam last month.

“I think it might be the first time in the history of football that Holland have introduced an extra defender to face Italy. That means they consider us a truly great opponent,” noted Mancini.

read also:Mancini: ‘Italy maintained mentality’

“We took the lead, had the chances to double it and were caught out by the equaliser, but then had more opportunities to finish them off.

“I believe this is the kind of match that helps a team to mature, we had the reaction and it’s just a pity we didn’t win it.”

Federico Chiesa seemed set to come off before half-time, as he felt unwell just before the Dutch goal.

“Chiesa had this stomach problem after about 20 minutes. We tried to keep him going. At the same time, I have to say Federico has what it takes to become a great winger and he has to work towards that aim.”

Moise Kean came off the bench for Chiesa in the second half and immediately gave Nathan Ake problems.

“Kean can give a great deal to the Nazionale. Unfortunately, he wasn’t in great shape when he arrived, as he played very little and had barely trained lately.

“I hope with the loan to PSG he can play more regularly, because he gives us important alternatives to play in different roles.”

Italy have scored only three goals in four Nations League fixtures, despite crushing Moldova 6-0 in a friendly last week.

“We played in Poland against a side that defended with 10 men. Holland did the same thing. Usually, when these are games between top teams, they are quite open and attacking from both sides.

“To be honest, we didn’t expect Holland to completely transform their identity and style of football, so that shows just how much they genuinely fear us.

“We struggled for seven or eight minutes after the equaliser, but then found our way again and it is a learning process.

“We have to get used to even the top teams being more defensive against us. So to get this match back on track, we changed to 3-5-2 in the final stages, that’s all.”

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