Italy coach Antonio Conte launched a scathing attack on the state of Italian soccer following his team’s 1-1 draw against Croatia in Euro 2016 qualifying in Milan on Sunday. “I am aware that Italian soccer isn't heading in the right direction,” the former Juventus boss told Rai Sport. “We must come to terms with this and then turn words into actions.”
He noted that the work rate of some of the younger Azzurri players simply isn’t up to international standard. “I was convinced I would find more involvement, but instead some young players do not have the desire to work,” the former Italy midfielder said. “If it continues at this rate then it will be just the beginning of a decline.” He added: “When I was at Juventus I thought only of my club, but from this position I see things that I do not like.”
Conte then hinted that time was running out for Mario Balotelli to establish himself in an Azzurri jersey. “I'm not so arrogant as to claim that I'm different from the great coaches, but the past tells us that they failed to change Balotelli,” he said. “It'll be up to the player, but I don't have much time and I need certain things.”
Separately, UEFA on Tuesday said that both Italy and Croatia would face a disciplinary hearing after Sunday’s match was twice-interrupted by fans throwing flares onto the field.