Italy win as a team against Portugal
Thursday, February 6, 2014
"To say they were exceptional doesn’t do justice to them," said Roberto Menichelli of his Italy players after the 4-3 comeback semi-final defeat of Portugal, who rued missed chances.
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Roberto Menichelli, Italy coach
I can't find the right words to describe my players after tonight's game. To say they were exceptional doesn't do justice to them, I want to thank them. Today we had a great contribution from a player like Massimo De Luca, who had not appeared in the tournament before. This is our spirit, the squad comes first.
I'm very satisfied with the work we have done in the last couple of years, not only regarding tactics and technique. This squad is earning the love of a growing number of fans, they convince people to come to watch our games with their performances and this is great for Italian futsal. Most of all I'm happy about our consistency, we finished third in the last two big tournaments [UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 and that year's FIFA Futsal World Cup] and now we will have another medal, let's see which one on Saturday.
Portugal are a great side and I'm not saying that because I have to. They have very good players and a great coach. The game today was decided on the touchline. Our reaction after the break is what I liked the most, it was not easy to re-start from 2-1 down after taking an early lead. In the dressing room we reorganised ourselves and we put everything in place in the second half with a great performance by the whole squad. This is among my best days as Italy coach, we have had a few great matches in the last couple of years but this is certainly among them.
Gabriel Lima, Italy captain
Another battle, nothing is easy here, we understood that very clearly after losing the first game in the tournament when we found ourselves facing an uphill struggle. But once again we played with heart, patience and brain and we made it.
[Your best game for Italy?] I think so. I knew I could have done more during the tournament but I think that being the captain gives you a certain responsibility, it takes something out of you in terms of performance. You give everything for the team but you don't manage to play at your very best. I was fully aware of it but tonight I think I did well.
[A united squad the key for Italy’s victory?] I think this is the right analysis of the game. We have a great squad, and if you ask me who is our man of the tournament I could name 14 different players. Today my congratulations go to Massimo [De Luca] who came in without having played a single minute in the tournament and I think he was one of the best players on the pitch. From this I think you can really understand the strength of our team.
We know the semi-finals and third-place play-off all too well. With this squad we had never reached a final but our moment arrived and I think it will continue like this.
Fortino, Italy forward
We knew it was a difficult game but if we play with this approach we can really achieve something big. By sticking together we can go very far and we know it. At the break we did not think about the game against Portugal when we were 3-0 down at the interval [before winning 4-3 in extra time in the FIFA Futsal World Cup quarter-finals two years ago]. We just told ourselves that we had to continue to work hard against a great team.
I'm very happy because we never give up. De Luca had never played before in the tournament and we were talking to him at the hotel explaining that his moment would arrive sooner or later. He was down but finally he came in and gave us a great contribution. This is our real strength.
Jorge Braz, Portugal coach
We managed to be faithful to ourselves, ambitious and organised but perhaps we were a bit too enthusiastic and that led to some mistakes. We should have been more pragmatic. We started the match by conceding a goal but after that we produced enough to turn it around. They made it 3-2 and we had several opportunities to draw but we were unfortunate and fell one more behind. Even after that we never gave up and we made it 4-3, before missing various chances to force at least extra-time.
We failed in small defensive situations but oddly enough we made many more mistakes when we had the ball and were attacking. If you put all that in the balance than it becomes very difficult to win. We were very good at finishing right until this match but today we just couldn’t do it against such a strong team like Italy.
We did not reach the final but it's not the end of the world. I think we took a step forward, we improved ina couple of aspects but the truth is that we want more. All the experiences improve us and this one improved us slightly. Now we had to raise our heads and start to think about the third-place match.
Joel Queirós, Portugal forward
We were not up to our standards at certain moments. Maybe in the first five minutes of the first half they were superior to us and that cost us. They managed to draw level [early in the second half] and perhaps we did not react well to it going 2-2. Even so I think we had countless opportunities against a very powerful Italian team. They defend and attack very well but tonight I think we were much better than them. We showed that we are superior but unfortunately that was not enough.
Our finishing was simply not good and besides that I think we were unlucky on more than one occasion. Our record against Italy [now one win in 18 games] is really just that: statistics. It does not count for nothing and we did not lose because of some kind of stigma against them. Like I said, we proved that, at least at this moment, we are stronger than Italy. These games are always very tight and are normally settled in small details. Tonight those details smiled on Italy.