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Euro 2024: Luciano Spalletti urges Italy to show 'passion and belief' as they look to defend title

Italy boss Luciano Spalletti has challenged his squad to show no fear at Euro 2024 as they look to live up to what the fans dream of and successfully defend their title in Germany.

The Azzurri face Albania in their Group B opener in Dortmund on Saturday, when the pressure will be on to get off to a winning start ahead of other fixtures against Spain and Croatia.

Spalletti took over the national team in September 2023 - following the departure of Roberto Mancini — and knows full well the expectations which come with the job after securing qualification behind England.

"For any child that goes out every evening and sweats, grazes their knees — then we are their heroes, what they dream of. It is up to us to live up to that," Spalletti told a press conference.

"Giants and heroes don't go out with fear — they go out with passion and belief.

"Every one of us needs to ensure they have their toolbox and can screw or unscrew what they need to."

Spalletti added: "We have our own brand of football and need to keep faith in it.

"Sometimes your opponents stop you but I am confident we can impose our game plan."

Former Napoli boss Spalletti used Italy's pre-match press conference to put the record straight over reports he had banned his squad from going on a PlayStation as well as not being able to wear headphones.

"What I am interested in is that they actually sleep at night. I am not bothered about what exactly it is they do," he said.

"I don't allow people to being up until all hours, so that then the next morning, they are not completely rested and then they go out to train.

"We have actually created a games room where there are two modern PlayStations that everyone goes and plays there — I have even had a go at it myself — but they do so within the scope of the right time of day.

"We need to make sure that we impart a correct lifestyle, so that we can then produce our best football during matches."

Inter midfielder Nicolo Barella has been able to resume full training ahead of Saturday's match.

Albania — coached by former Arsenal, Barcelona and Manchester City left-back Sylvinho — finished top of their qualifying group ahead of Czech Republic and Poland.

Azzurri captain Gianluigi Donnarumma insists the Eagles, with several of the squad playing in Serie A, must not be taken lightly.

"This match is the biggest banana skin in our group. We have to be 100 per cent switched on," said the Paris St Germain goalkeeper.

"If we win tomorrow night, it will be a big step to qualification. It will put us in a strong position, but not winning would put us under pressure."

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