A stringent process of self-examination is required for Italy to convert possession into goals, according to discerning captain Patrizia Panico, who led the line admirably in their frustrating goalless draw against UEFA Women's EURO 2013 Group A rivals Finland on Wednesday.
The Azzurre's penchant for probing, patient football bore all the hallmarks of coach Antonio Cabrini's deep-rooted philosophy. It also provided Finland the time to set up a staunch reaguard. Their insatiable desire to force the issue nonetheless pleased former Juventus defender Cabrini, part of Italy's legendary 1982 FIFA World Cup-winning team.
"The coach told us we played well and applauded us for not compromising our usual game. However, we are not in high spirits," Panico told UEFA.com. “We dominated possession and were the only team who wanted to play. Sometimes you have to take a risk, and when you don't score there is always the danger of being punished at the other end. Overall the draw is not a fair representation of the game. I consider it two points dropped because we should really have won."
Italy can ill afford to harbour a close-minded approach, though, and the 38-year-old Panico – in her fifth UEFA Women's EURO final tournament – is well aware of this, imploring her team to recognise the error of their ways when they reconvene in training.
"Both individually and as a team, we must analyse what we did wrong, which aspects of our game we can improve on," she said. "We will study the mistakes we made in training and do our best to correct them next time. We will need to change our game should we be in a similar situation again."
Any tweaking at the other end of the spectrum is not required, however, with Panico reserving special praise for centre-backs Elisa Bartoli and Cecilia Salvai, deputising for the injured Elisabetta Tona. "I was pleased with the defence, even without the missing Tona. Both Bartoli and Salvai were very good and filled in without putting a foot wrong. They deserve a massive pat on the back, because it is never easy making your tournament debut," said the wily forward.
Cabrini's charges have the opportunity to put theory into practise when they tackle Denmark on Saturday, and Pancio envisages a more open encounter. "Denmark will play with more freedom than Finland, but not excessively. I don't imagine they will give us as much time on the ball, they will press higher up the pitch and be more aggressive. I'm not sure how the coach will want to approach the Denmark game, but one thing is clear, we must win," she said.
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