Italy, who have been keeping a low profile, beat Belgium 2-0 here on Monday night to kickstart their campaign in style. Emanuele Giaccherini put the four-time World Cup winners in the lead with a superb two-touch finish in the 32nd minure before Graziano Pelle (90+2) underlined Italy’s dominance in the final seconds.
“We have big intentions and our objective remains the same, to get into the last 16. The objective is to get where we deserve to be, without any regrets,” Conte was quoted as saying by uefa.com.
“I think the fans are pleased when they see 23 players giving everything on the field and being willing to spill blood.”
Conte said he was pleased with how his footballers played as a unit in the game stating it was a result of bonding well off the pitch.
“I’ve been repeating from the beginning — and I’m not one to tell lies — that this is a group first and foremost of men, and then of footballers,” he remarked.
“That’s important because in a tournament like this you need an alchemy of people who get on well together, and the biggest satisfaction for me tonight is to see how happy they all were, including those on the bench. There’s a very good spirit in this squad.”
The former Juventus coach who took on the Italy job in 2014 after their FIFA World Cup debacle believes now they need to hold on to the momentum and play well in the other games.
“Having said that, we’ve got to be happy today, a bit happy tomorrow. And then we have to prepare for Sweden because the memory of two years ago is still fresh, when we did well against England and then lost (to Costa Rica in the group stage),” the 46-year-old recalled.
“That’s a wound which remains in the minds of our players and fans.”
Italy goalscorer Giaccherini said he was pleased with his efforts and urged his team to keep fighting.
“Today is a fantastic day for me, but I’m also very happy for the team, for Italy, for the entire nation. We proved today that what happens on the pitch is what counts,” the Sunderland attacking midfielder, currently playing for Bologna on loan, said.
“The coach told us beforehand that we had to prove ourselves on the pitch, and today we did. We mustn’t lower our guard; we have to keep the bar high because the level here is very high.”