Italy's defence had impressed in previous knockout ties against England and Germany but tiredness and muscle strains – Giorgio Chiellini went off in the first half and Thiago Motta in the second shortly after coming on to leave the Azzurri with ten men – told as Spain ran out 4-0 winners. Though beaten, Italy's players were unbowed as they reflected on their run and hopes for the future.
Gianluigi Buffon, Italy captain
It's ended badly because we faced a great team who deserved to win. Sometimes in life you need to be able to accept defeat and compliment opponents who were better. They have a lot of players who are accustomed to playing certain types of games, important games like the final of a European Championship. I think at the start we paid for this because we were not the same Italy as we have been.
We have nothing to complain about. Spain were the better team and we congratulate them.
Daniele De Rossi, Italy midfielder
I think Spain are better than everybody: in ten games against them you will lose seven or eight. If you win or draw it means everything went for your side. In Gdansk [drawing 1-1 in the group stage] I think we could have beaten them and nobody could have said we did not deserve it. Tonight we did not manage to cause them any problems.
We were up against a very strong side and were not 100%; we were very tired. Ahead of the game we were sure we could beat them but we never hurt them. Then the game was over after 60 minutes – you cannot give anything to a team like Spain, facing them a man down is really too much to ask. We could have avoided the last two goals but it would not have changed much.
Giorgio Chiellini, Italy defender
We're sorry because we hoped to win and end the tournament in another way.
We were tired, very tired, and the injuries show that. Some of our players on the pitch could hardly walk. In the end we have to congratulate Spain. They deserved to win and tonight they proved to be better than us.
When Thiago Motta got injured we were down to ten men but they'd almost closed the game out in the first 60 minutes with their ball possession. Then in the last half-hour they exploded, thanks in part to having more players. Everyone's sad about the loss, but it can't erase a tournament in which we played well and we dreamt with millions of Italians. In my opinion that has to be the starting point for our future.
Leonardo Bonucci, Italy defender
It's hard, because we believed we could do it. If we had succeeded in bringing onto the pitch what has been our trademark here – our desire to pass the ball around and create openings – for sure we would have been here talking about another kind of result. But they deserved to win and we give them credit.
Once again Spain have shown that they are one or two steps above anyone else.
I think that today in general we were unlucky in everything: from the goals we conceded to the players we lost to injury. It was just a negative night. We'll take away the experience we've gained in this tournament, which has been positive, because we had the desire to play football. From here we need to start again.
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