Christian Vieri has given Italy coach Antonio Conte full credit for the country’s impressive performance at Euro 2016 so far, saying “it’s all him”.
Conte has led his side to victories over Belgium, Sweden and Spain, setting up a mouth-watering quarter-final clash with Germany in Bordeaux on Saturday.
Italy have conceded just one goal in the tournament, during a 1-0 defeat to the Republic of Ireland with qualification for the knockout stages already assured, and former Azzurri striker Vieri heaped praise on his one-time Juventus team-mate for masterminding the campaign.
Comparing Italy’s performance at Euro 2016 with their poor showing at the World Cup in 2014, when they failed to make it out of their group, Vieri said: “It’s like day and night in every sense.
“It’s all him (Conte). He has charisma, personality, knows what he wants and gets the most out of his players. He is a star when it comes to tactics and he is very prepared.
“He knows who is running, and anyone who isn’t is sent home. That’s what he wants and it’s right. People are proud of this Italy, I am proud of these 23 players and the coach.
“I’m watching Italy with passion and I see that the players are full of enthusiasm.”
Two of Italy’s five goals at Euro 2016 have come from Southampton striker Graziano Pelle, and Vieri – who scored 23 times in 49 appearances for his country – heaped praise on the 30-year-old striker for his part in the 2-0 last-16 victory over holders Spain.
Pelle only made his senior international debut in 2014, but Vieri said he may still have a long career at the top of the game ahead of him.