Gareth Bale, the captain of Wales, disputed Italy coach Roberto Mancini’s comparisons of his team to English club Stoke City, saying the Welsh were ready to confront them in Sunday’s European Championship match in Rome.
Mancini, who managed Manchester City for three and a half years from 2009 to 2013, is well aware of the physical demands of a trip to Stoke, who was a top-flight team at the time.
The Italian noted before of Sunday’s encounter that Stoke had a tough style of play and that he expected a similar test from Wales, adding that Bale’s side had the technical ability to trouble his team. “I never realised Stoke was that excellent,” Bale said at a press conference when asked about Mancini’s comments.
Wales interim manager Robert Page claimed the comparison didn’t upset him. “We’re completely focused on what we can do and how we can cause teams to suffer. As I already stated, I am quite proud of that (squad of) 26, and I will support them every day of the week.”
Italy has advanced to the last 16 after two wins in as many games, while Wales has four points in Group A heading into the last round of matches. “It will be a significant challenge. Even if that (unbeaten) record didn’t exist, we do not doubt that Italy is a large footballing nation that always makes games difficult “Bale remarked.