Verratti seeks perfect ten for Italy

Marco Verratti ranks Italy's performance at the tournament so far as an "8/10" but knows they must improve if they are to beat the Netherlands in Saturday's semi-final.

Italy kitman Franco Turco has Marco Verratti's shirt ready for the semi-finals
Italy kitman Franco Turco has Marco Verratti's shirt ready for the semi-finals ©Sportsfile

Marco Verratti is hoping his experiences with the senior Italy team will be of benefit when the Azzurrini take on the Netherlands in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi-finals.

Verratti scored his first goal for the full international side when Italy drew 1-1 with the Dutch in a friendly in February. The 20-year-old has not added to his haul of caps since that game, but impressed for Paris Saint-Germain FC as they claimed the Ligue 1 title and has subsequently caught the eye in Israel. Next up are Cor Pot's Jong Oranje team.

"I hope [that goal in February] brings me good luck this time," said Verratti. "But the most important thing is to reach the final because we want to go all the way. I'm glad to be here and I look forward to playing this game. We are in the semi-finals and we have to give everything. I have to say thanks to my team-mates and the coaching staff, who put me in the best condition from the first day.

"Today we will start to study our opponents. When you meet teams like Holland you can get at them with pace. They always like to press high in defence, so we must try to attack the [spaces behind] as well as possible and try to be very quick with the ball. They are a very physical team and they are also good technically. We have to play as we know, keep the ball on the ground and be clinical in front of goal."

Devis Mangia's team topped their section with seven points but know they will have their work cut out against the Dutch. Pot's squad includes 12 players who have represented the senior Netherlands side – something that is sure to be a factor according to Verratti. "Experience for a player is very important in these competitions," he said. "You can be more relaxed and confident on the pitch. We have less experience than them so this is a disadvantage."

As for Italy's performance at the tournament thus far, Verratti feels there is still plenty of room for improvement. He added: "I would give Italy 8/10 now, but we can improve and we can reach 9/10 or 10/10."