Italy's Marco Verratti feels the penalty won by Raheem Sterling was ‘generous’

The PSG midfielder further feels that England “deserve” to reach the final and it will be an “epic” clash between the two sides.

Marco Verratti during a training session with Italy; Credit: Twitter@azzurri
By Karthik Raman | Jul 9, 2021 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Italy midfielder Marco Verratti believes that England “deserve” to reach the Euro 2020 final. However, the PSG player feels that the crucial penalty won by Raheem Sterling in the extra time was ‘generous’. England came from a goal deficit to take the match into the additional 30-minute period. The Three Lions were then awarded the penalty after Joakim Maehle was adjudged to have fouled Sterling. Harry Kane’s spot-kick was saved by Kasper Schmeichel, but the striker slotted in the rebound for what proved to be the winner for Gareth Southgate’s men. The 2-1 comeback victory sets up a Wembley final against the Italians on Sunday.

When asked about the penalty incident at a press conference, Verratti said, “Perhaps it was a bit of a generous penalty, but it is part of the picture in football. I think it was a bit of a generous penalty. I think England did a great job. They got to the final for the first time and this says a lot. They conceded only one goal, so it is a very solid team, great players, very balanced, and I think they did deserve to get to the final.”

“Now it’s all down to the final, which I think will be an epic final, and history-making either way. England is a very physical team, and they have players who are very skilled as well. We will face a very, very tough team, they will be playing at home, they know the stadium well. But it is a dream for us to win this European Championship.”

He also spoke about playing at Wembley in the showpiece game. “Surely the supporters will factor in somehow, but we’re all professional players, we know what it is to play in fan-packed stadiums, and somehow this will drive us as well. We will be happy about it too – it’s great to play in a packed stadium. I think Italy-England is always a huge match. There will be only one winner and I hope it will be us. We will give it our very best shot,” he stated.

Marco Verratti: Roberto Mancini did a huge job for Italy

Former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, who took charge of the Azzurri in 2018, has gone on to oversee a 33-game unbeaten run. His star midfielder, Verratti, only has good words to say about his influence so far in the tournament. Verratti said, “I think Mancini did a huge job.”

“He did very well wherever he coached. He has been criticised, sure, but again, that’s part of the picture. If you don’t win, you will end up getting criticised, it goes for everyone, it is absolutely normal in football. Results are paramount, and when you don’t win, it’s easier to criticise the manager than the whole team.”

Verratti feels that Mancini has “boosted” their confidence after taking charge of the national team. “He’s done a great job with us, everyone can see it. He’s a very special manager for us, he boosted our confidence when we lost it because of the negative results of the past. I think he was the perfect man for the job,” he added.

“He restarted our enthusiasm, with his style we actually had fun. We haven’t lost in 33 matches – these are important statistics, and it tells you he is doing a great job. Sometimes one might say managers are not so important, but for us he truly is an added value.”

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