Vicente del Bosque, Spain coach
We were lacking penetration – they closed up the spaces well and that caused us a lot of problems. We had some nervous moments, especially when Iker Casillas made that save [from Ivan Rakitić’s header]. We talked before the game and knew they were going to play the way they did. In the end my players resolved a messy issue that a draw might have represented.
It was a difficult win and one we had to battle for, as our opponents did. I think we had 17 shots on goal to their eight. We had more corners and more possession.
They played a good game and counterattacked with menace but I thought we were the better team. The changes I made [taking off Fernando Torres for example] were to give us a cutting edge on the right. Our first touch tonight maybe wasn’t what it should have been though, and that caused the game to be a bit slower.
The result was a good one for our team. When you don’t have your greatest game but manage to win, it gives you confidence. I have no preferences regarding who we face in the next round. We will just look to play well and resolve whatever issues arise out on the pitch.
Cesare Prandelli, Italy coach
We struggled in the first 20 minutes because they decided to try and press us and we couldn’t actually squeeze the play in midfield. There was also tension in our play.
Perhaps we weren’t expecting them to press so much but once we got organised, we played some very good football. I’m very happy with our performance – our four-man defence dealt with their long balls very well.
We were playing against a very aggressive side, who like to get the ball forward quickly, so what we tried to do was overload in midfield and have an extra man – we didn’t want a game of ping-pong. You’ve got to win the second ball and it’s not easy to get it on the deck and start playing football.
I think over the first two games [Spain and Croatia] we gave a good account of ourselves – but this was a very important match. We’ve often been criticised for how we deal against teams who play a high ball but we dealt with that very well tonight. I don’t think we stopped our work rate – the only thing is that we had seven or eight minutes at the beginning of the second half when we couldn’t put the game to bed unfortunately.
I’m happy for the team, for the squad. I’m lucky enough to work with lads who have won some trophies and are still very motivated – they’re the ones who determine the team spirit. These players have a lot of quality, as long as they show intensity first and foremost. I wanted a team that could improve and a side that could play football. You have to be a good footballing side to do well here.