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Inside FutbolInside Futbol

04/06/2013 - 15:50 BST

Spain and Holland Favourites at European Under-21 Championship Says Italy Coach Devis Mangia


Tuesday, 4th June, 2013

Italy Under-21 team coach Devis Mangia feels Spain and Holland are top of the favourites list at this summer’s European Championship in Israel, despite the duo being in the proverbial group of death.

Defending champions Spain, Germany, Holland and Russia were clubbed together for the Under-21 Championship in Israel, and with just England as their high-profile opposition in Group A, Italy are largely expected to make good progress.

The Azzurrini topped their qualifying group, that also included Turkey and the Republic of Ireland, while they won through 4-2 on aggregate in the playoffs against Sweden to book their finals berth.

Italy even managed an eye-popping 14-2 aggregate win over Liechtenstein during qualifying, but Mangia believes the youth systems in Spain and Holland have put them miles ahead of the rest of the competition.

He told Inside Futbol: "As defending champions, Spain are of course the favourites. They are working well both in developing players and playing nice football.

"Moreover, they have players with a lot of international experience. That’s the same for Holland, with three or four players who have already been capped by the senior side.

"It’s a philosophy we must learn to follow. At the start of last season it seemed something was changing in Serie A, however it didn’t last for long.

"Two months ago only Manolo Gabbiadini from among my players was a regular at a Serie A club. Others were regulars too, but in Serie B."

However, the former Palermo coach maintains hope that Italy can once again reach the heady heights that saw them become Europe’s most successful Under-21 side with five continental titles.

"I have always liked to see the glass half full", Mangia added.

"We have a lot of talented young players, who technically and tactically speaking can be amongst the best. We should start from here to close the gap with countries like Spain or Germany."

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