Italy boss Conte urges players to stay poised against Sweden
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Antonio Conte warned his Italy players to stay on their toes during their second game in Group E on Friday against Sweden.
Italy won their opening game in Lyon against Belgium 2-0 thanks to goals from Emanuele Giaccherini and Graziano Pellè and will qualify for the knockout stages with victory against the Swedes who drew 1-1 with Ireland at the Stade de France on 13 June.
“I think I have a group of lads who are very determined and who take pride in doing things well,” said Conte. “I'm certain that one single game will not change the attitude of these lads. I'm convinced of this.
“It was a good performance against Belgium and we made the best start to the tournament,” added the 46-year-old. “But we've not done anything yet, nor have we already qualified for the last 16, which is our first objective. We must have our feet firmly on the ground.”
Conte, who takes over at English Premier League side Chelsea after the tournament, said his players could not afford to be complace. “We're seeing some really tight games to be honest and you can see that every game is very difficult. Look at France, they only went ahead against Albania in the 90th minute and added a second in the 96th.
“The games are going down to the wire and we've got to be very well prepared. We just have to concentrate on what we are doing, what we have to do, who we have to face and their strengths and weaknesses.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the undisputed strength of the Sweden side. The Ireland defence kept him relatively quiet during their match. But it was his presence in the penalty area that spurred Ciaran Clark to head into his own net midwy through the second-half.
Conte’s counterpart Erik Hamren, says the pre-tournament hype about the paucity of
talent in the Italy squad belied the quality of the players who have journeyed to France. “Italy perhaps don't have the big stars they used to,” he said. “But they are still very strong. They are very good in defence and in attack and they were impressive against Belgium.
"They are going to be a tough challenge for us. We have to get more right than we get wrong, for sure. We need to be very effective. We probably won't get many chances so we have to take what we get.”