Daniele De Rossi says Italy has world’s best defence

Marseille, June 21 (IANS) Italy’s defensive midfielder Daniele De Rossi says they have the best defence in global football and other qualities not possessed by other national sides that have big stars.

At a press conference on Monday, the Roma veteran praised the collective style of his team rather than individual style of play, noting that Italy have the best defenders, such as Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, in addition to veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

They are yet to concede a goal in the two group matches of the Euro as four-time World Cup winners Italy defeated Belgium 2-0 and Sweden 1-0 to book a place in the pre-quarterfinals as group leader.

The three defenders, lovingly termed as ‘BBC’ play for Turin giants Juventus, alongwith club and national captain Buffon.

“I think it’s the best in the world, along with Buffon,” De Rossi was quoted as saying by football-italia.net.

“They’re the most complementary players you’ll find in international football, and they have the mindset to lead us players, even for those of us who already have that (mindset).

The 32-year-old added that his national team does not have players like Eden Hazard of Belgium or Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden; however, Italy is a well balanced team.

“You need balance when making judgements. We don’t have individuals who catch the eye like [Eden] Hazard or [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, but we have other features which many other teams don’t,” De Rossi said.

“We have great togetherness, and a good squad both emotionally and in terms of depth. A lot of teams have stars, but there’s a big gulf in quality between them and the reserves.

“We have balance between those who play and the substitutes. It was good that the spotlight wasn’t on us when we started.”

De Rossi stressed that Italy must defeat Ireland on Wednesday in the last round of the Euro 2016 group stage, although they have already secured a spot in the last 16.

Ireland have one point from two matches and need to beat Antonio Conte-coached Italya to keep their pre-quarterfinal hopes alive.

“It’s not a pointless game. We’ve already come first, but it’s a big game. We’ll turn a blind eye to the other games in the group, it’s important to finish with nine points,” the 2006 World Cup winner said.

“That’s also the case for those who haven’t played so far. We players are also a little bit selfish, those who haven’t played so far will hope to be protagonists in the coming games.”

–IANS

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