Unconventional Spalletti fights his corner as Italy look to last-16 clash

Manager has several team choices to make for Switzerland tie after uncertain group-stage campaign

To watch Luciano Spalletti speak at the end of Italy’s draw against Croatia felt like being pitched into an alternate timeline. Outside, on the pitch at Leipzig Stadium, there had been joy and relief for the Azzurri after Mattia Zaccagni’s 98th-minute equaliser secured progress to Euro 2024’s knockout phase. Inside, at the press conference, there was the sort of prickly postmortem you might expect after early elimination.

In a series of monologues, Spalletti railed against perceived critics. When one journalist, Dario Ricci, asked whether the decision to change formation to a 3-5-2 had been influenced by a “pact” with players, the manager accused him of sharing leaked information from the changing room.

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