After Italy fell to Portugal 1-0 in the Nations League on Monday, boss Roberto Mancini expressed confidence that his side will only improve.
“Lots of things can change in one month,” Mancini said. “My players will be in a better condition. It will be important for us.”
See what else Mancini had to say in the video below.
Martin O’Neill has insisted he still wants the passion Roy Keane used to drive Manchester United to the pinnacle of club football within his Republic of Ireland set-up.
O’Neill found himself having to defend his “brilliant” assistant manager as they prepared for Tuesday’s friendly in Poland after an alleged foul-mouthed rant from the former United skipper.
Audio emerged on social media supposedly of defender Stephen Ward outlining a version of Keane’s training ground altercation with the pair during the summer.
In it, Ward claims that Keane called Cardiff midfielder Arter, who is on loan from Bournemouth, a “p****” and a “c***”.
The manager admitted last week that Arter’s decision to make himself unavailable for Ireland could have been down to the row, but disputed the detail of the account provided by Ward – who was not there at the time.
Former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson famously dispensed with his inspirational captain after a brutally frank interview with the club’s own television channel, but asked if he fears he may have to do the same at some point, O’Neill was defiant.
He said: “You were talking about Roy Keane there – this was after Roy Keane had coerced that top- quality team to win seven championships or something like that, in a 10-year period.
“Roy Keane was the driving force of that team. He had great, great players, the Welsh manager [Ryan Giggs] beside him, David Beckham, an iconic figure in the game, a world-class goalkeeper [Peter Schmeichel] and top-class players who could have played anywhere in the world.
“He drove them on and they have all admitted that. He was looking for exacting standards and that’s exactly what I want, exacting standards whatever way they are mentioned to people.
“If people are not up to them, not necessarily in terms of ability all the time, then I do think the players or other people have to have a look at them.
“That’s not to say that every utterance that myself or Roy Keane makes is absolutely and utterly correct.”
O’Neill revealed he had spoken to Ward, who apologised for the leak, and dismissed suggestions it could end his international career.
But asked if he had sympathy for the Burnley full-back, who did not witness the row and has withdrawn from the current squad with a foot injury, he replied: “Today… probably not. Tomorrow… probably not also.
“He has been betrayed by some of his friends, who he has known for a long, long time. That will be a disappointment for him.”
Meanwhile, the Ireland boss also suggested Arter, who he admitted may have made himself unavailable for this month’s games because of his altercation with Keane, and his number two could yet reconcile their differences.
O’Neill said: “I think there might be a bit of a reconciliation between Roy and Harry. Certainly Roy is up for that.”
Coach Tite will change more than half of the Brazil starting line-up ahead of their second post-World Cup friendly against El Salvador.
The Selecao were dumped out of the tournament in Russia at the quarter-final stage by Belgium, but secured a convincing 2-0 win against the USA last week with another much-changed squad.
For the Tuesday night game (04:30 Wednesday UAE) at FedEx Field in Washington, Tite again looks to be fine-tuning his team before Copa America next year, saying it is important to give younger players an opportunity to build on their confidence.
The coach also suggested he would be preserve the fitness of some of the team, with captain Neymar only playing in part of the game.
Tite told a press conference: “Neymar must participate in only one part of the game. I have some important situations to manage: first, play well and win, either against El Salvador or France.
“The second is the moment for opportunities for younger players to work for them to have confidence.
“The third, is that when I was a club coach, I always expected the players to come back in good condition.”
Alisson, Fabinho, Thiago Silva, Filipe Luis, Fred and Firmino are being replaced by Neto, Eder Militao, Dede, Alex Sandro, Arthur and Richarlison.
Goalkeeper Neto, who alongside right-back Militao is making his debut, said he was proud to be be given the opportunity to start for his national side.
Quoted on the team’s website, he said: “It is a great pride, an immeasurable pleasure. The coach called me after yesterday’s training and told me I would have the opportunity. I am in a moment where I feel really prepared for this chance.”
El Salvador – who have only competed in two World Cups – are reported to be without one of their top scorer, Rodolfo Zelaya.
Coach Carlos de los Cobos told Brazilian newspaper Lance: “I have to give the opportunity to other players. Zelaya is good technically and I know his skills. He can contribute later.”