Nicolato responds to De La Fuente’s unsportsmanlike claims

Italy U21 CT Paolo Nicolato hits back at Spain U21 coach Luis de La Fuente waving away claims of unsportsmanlike behaviour.

Gianluca Scamacca and Nicolò Rovella saw red against Spain on Saturday and Spain’s coach De La Fuente accused the Azzurri of unsportsmanlike behaviour.

“I didn’t see particularly violent tackles. I am sorry for the suspensions to my players and for how our games are interpreted,” Nicolato said at a press conference.

“We made some mistakes, but we can’t be accused of unsportsmanlike behaviour. It’s not easy to face us, and that’s a merit, not a shortcoming.

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“I am sorry we are seen as the bad ones. It doesn’t suit us. I think some red cards were used without overthinking.

“I think Spain’s CT got it wrong. There were some harsh tackles, but because we always want to win.”

The Azzurrini need a win against Slovenia tomorrow to qualify for the next stage of the U21 European Championship, but a draw may be enough if Spain beat the Czech Republic.

Enrico Del Prato and Sandro Tonali are also suspended. The Milan midfielder received a three-match ban after seeing red in the first game against the Czech Republic, while Del Prato picked up two yellow cards in the first two games.

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“If we can’t make changes, we’ll change the players’ positioning. We are preparing to do something different and qualify for the quarter-finals,” Nicolato said.

“We can’t think about other results. We must think about ourselves.

“Slovenia played good games against England, Germany and Portugal, even though in friendlies. They have a spirit that I define as patriotic. We’ll get there with a few difficulties, but we must only remain focused.”

Does Nicolato have any regret?

“I regret Locatelli, for his values and the motivation he gave me. He is a very smart guy, he’s done a great job.”

The Sassuolo midfielder joined Roberto Mancini’s senior Italy squad and scored his first goal with the Azzurri against Bulgaria last night.

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