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Euro 2016: Belgium coach slams Italy for not playing ‘real football’

Belgium boss Marc Wilmots has criticised Italy’s style of play after seeing his side fall to a 2-0 defeat in their Euro 2016 opener on Monday night.

The Azzurri secured all three points through goals from Emanuele Giaccherini and Graziano Pelle, with many praising them for their performance.

Antonio Conte’s men weren’t fancied by many prior to the tournament, but after their efforts in Lyon against one of the teams regarded as a genuine contender, a few may well have changed their mind.

Nevertheless, Wilmots was far from impressed with their tactics, although his assessment of the game will likely only serve to earn him criticism for not giving credit where it’s due after being tactically outclassed.

“Italy specifically played on the counter-attack,” he told reporters after the game. “They did not play real football and when faced with everyone sitting back, it becomes difficult.

“They were pretty much there on the sofa… they were pretty relaxed.”

“This is a huge disappointment for the whole group. In the first half-hour we allowed absolutely no chances and we created a few ourselves, albeit from distance.

“Then we made a small mistake in defence and Italy scored. The communication went wrong between [Toby] Alderweireld and [Laurent] Ciman.

“You know it’s difficult to get back into the game then, especially against Italy because they have so much experience. We played a lot better after the break, though it was still not easy against the Juventus bloc in defence.”

There is an argument against Wilmots in that Italy didn’t particularly park the bus in the game, as they were more than willing to push forward with numbers and attack with pace when they had possession of the ball.

Although they did well to soak up pressure, they were adventurous at times and ultimately’s Conte’s system and approach worked as with a lack of star quality, they have to rely on their collective effort overcoming star individuals such as those in the Belgian side who failed to deliver.

Wilmots added that he remains positive ahead of games with Sweden and the Republic of Ireland, but his assessment of the Italy game will have come across as a bit petulant by some, while others will indeed agree and discredit Conte’s style of play.

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