After 11 years of waiting, Italy finally added a second UEFA Futsal EURO title to their 2003 victory in February, lifting the trophy in Antwerp with a 3-1 win against Russia, who in the previous round had ended the hopes of holders Spain. Italy coach Roberto Menichelli reviews their run with UEFA.com.
UEFA.com: How did you manage to lift your team after Italy lost their opening game against Slovenia?
Menichelli: We had aimed to win the group, but that opening match made things a lot more difficult for us. But looking at it and analysing what we did wrong did us good. We lost to a strong team. That defeat generated a powerful response, and helped us beat Azerbaijan [7-0] and finish top of our group, which then on paper gave us an easier tie in the quarter-finals – although it wasn't really like that against Croatia, in our 2-1 win.
UEFA.com: You then played Portugal, who you dramatically beat at the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup. How important was that win to boost you for this match?
Menichelli: A victory always increases morale and enthusiasm, there is no doubt about that. Italy have never lost to Portugal in a competitive match, but I didn't know that before our last match. All the matches we've played against Portugal have been very close, maybe decided by one goal.
We took the lead but were then 2-1 down, and that was a difficult moment mentally for us, though not comparable to the match at the World Cup when we were losing 3-0 after the first half, and managed to turn things around and win 4-3. This last time we were losing 2-1, and it was difficult as well, but we again managed to turn the match around.
UEFA.com: How did you get your team ready for the final?
Menichelli: The motivation was already there in the team. Italy don't play in the final of a EURO every day. You never know if it will happen again. There is a saying: "If a train is passing you have to jump on it (and take the chance)." You cannot let it pass by.
UEFA.com: There were almost 12,000 fans at the final. How did it feel to come out and see all those fans?
MenichellI: That is a personal satisfaction for the players, for us [coaches], and I think also for the sport of futsal: it shows that it is a sport of high quality, if you look at the number of fans. It's an indoor sport, so 13,000 is like 50,000 fans for regular football or rugby matches [in outdoor stadiums].
A lot of those 13,000 or 14,000 fans were actually Italians – there was a big share of them from our nation, fans who came from Italy or lived in Belgium because of their jobs. They were passionate for us, and followed us, and they also pushed us to win that final.
UEFA.com: How does Italy's victory feel now you have had time to reflect?
Menichelli: It was fantastic. Before the event, we were not necessarily regarded as being among the favourites – you have to respect teams like Spain, and Russia. However, we know we have the ability to compete with the best teams. And we managed to win, and I think it was deserved. We got better and better in terms of quality. And in the final I think we managed to win well.
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