Germany vs Italy: Antonio Conte looking forward to Chelsea challenge after Euro 2016 penalty defeat to world champions
Antonio Conte ended his tenure as Italy manager after their penalty shoot-out defeat to Germany in Bordeaux and said that he is desperate to start as Chelsea manager one week on Monday.
Conte will take pre-season training at Cobham for the first time on Monday 11 July, after taking a weeks of holiday. He admitted in the Stade de Bordeaux that he would rather have gone straight from the Euro 2016 final into the Chelsea job, but that he cannot wait to get started after a short break.
“My future is to go back to working at club level, my future is Chelsea,” Conte said. “In a few days time the new season will begin. To be honest I would have liked not have had a single day of holiday. That would have meant going forward in the Euros. Now I will take seven days off, I will try and shift a bit of this disappointment at going out of the competition, before then taking the reigns at Chelsea. I know it will be a significant difficult challenge, but that is the sort of challenge that I relish.”
After inspiring Italy to a quarter-final finish at the Euros, there was a hint of regret about the fact Conte is leaving his job. But he insisted that he was excited about his return to club management, two years after walking out on Juventus.
“When I realised that nothing had changed [with Italy], I said I would go back to coaching at club level, to the everyday grind,” Conte said. “I had this great opportunity with Chelsea FC, and now I have the pleasure to begin this very exciting adventure.”
While Conte said that he was proud of his work with Italy, he was also frustrated about how little support he has received from the Italian football media during his two-year tenure. Conte praised the FIGC president Carlo Tavecchio but made his contempt clear for the rest of the Italian football establishment.
“I did not see anyone alongside me from the press or the media,” Conte said. “I had to go into battle, Conte against everyone. I have always worked for the best of the national side, fought for their interests and not for my own. I have never felt supported by anyone. The president has always been alongside me, but he can only go so far. It is a shame, as this process is something we have done together. We have created a family and left a lasting mark. I hope that can bear fruit.”
Germany will face France or Iceland in Marseille on Thursday night, but will do so with injury doubts over Sami Khedira and Mario Gomez, and Mats Hummels suspended after collecting a second yellow card. Coach Joachim Loew said that his players would have to get back to their best in time.
“Now we have to focus on recovering, as a game like this effects the body,” Loew said. “We have to make sure we recover the players. This was a great effort. Of course it was lucky in the end. We were superior in the game, had two or three chances more than them. From a fighting point of view it was amazing what we did.”