Roberto Mancini predicts Austria may prove tougher test for Italy than Belgium or Portugal

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 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Roberto Mancini believes Italy’s last-16 win against Austria could prove to be tougher than a Euro 2020 quarter-final showdown with Belgium or Portugal.

Italy managed to defeat Austria at Wembley to progress to the quarter-finals, but they were made to work hard for the win.

Mancini’s side eventually secured the victory in extra time, with substitutes Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina scoring.

Sasa Kalajdzic struck late on for Austria, which summed up their fighting spirit, and Mancini believes the battle will stand Italy in good stead going forward.

The Italy boss also thinks the mental challenge of playing their first knockout game could prove tougher than a showdown with Belgium or Portugal in the quarter-finals.

“It depends what you mean by winning ugly. I think it was a tough match,” said Mancini.

“I think there were times when the team had to battle tooth and nail. This was a match of that type, and I did say before the game that it might have even been a tougher match than what we will face in the quarter-finals, because they (Austria) are a very tough side.

“They run a great deal, but I think we had 26 shots on goal. It’s not like we had two. Perhaps we weren’t quite accurate enough, but I think when we had to battle the players were extraordinary.

“I said so [that it could be tougher than the quarter-finals] because it was our first knockout match, so from a mental perspective you are already approach things in a different way.

“And despite the fact that Austria were considered simple opponents by a lot of people, Austria don’t lose easily.

“They cause problems for the opponents because they don’t allow you to play football. They press you, they defend well.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Italy will take on either Belgium or Portugal - who face each other on Sunday - in the quarter-finals, and Mancini has no preference who he comes up against after being asked if he’d rather face Cristiano Ronaldo or Romelu Lukaku.

“When you get into the quarter-finals I don’t think it is that easy,” he added.

“Ideally we would like to avoid both, but that’s not possible.”

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Italy 2-1 Austria (a.e.t): Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina strike in extra-time to book quarter-final spot

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