ITALY - SPAIN

Conte: "Spain are among the favourites for the Euros"

"I'm anticipating a tough match. I wanted this friendly against Spain to see what sort of shape we're in," said the Italy coach.

Conte, entrenador italiano, antes del Italia-España
MAURIZIO DEGLINNOCENTI EFE

Italy coach Antonio Conte said on Monday that Spain “are one of the favourites to win the European Championship” in France this summer as he prepares his side to face the reigning champions in Udine on Thursday. “"I'm anticipating a tough match. I wanted this friendly against Spain and the one against Germany to see what sort of shape we're in. Spain are a very good side, they’ve been on a run of a lot of victories and they only slipped up at the last World Cup. They have a strong league, which provided six teams for the European quarterfinals,” Conte added.

Monday was Conte’s first press conference since announcing that he would step down from the Italy job after Euro 2016.

Conte's announcement last Tuesday increased British media speculation that the 46-year-old was set to join English Premier League club Chelsea next season, but the coach said he was keeping his decisions to himself.

"At this moment, nothing interests me. I'm the coach of the national team and it's an experience which has taught me so much," he told a press conference at Italy's training ground. "It's been a fantastic, extraordinary experience, and I've always envied coaches who have taken part at a World Cup or a European championship," added Conte, who took charge of the Azzurri after the 2014 World Cup.

Conte, whose contract ends after the Euro 2016 tournament, said he had been asked to clarify his position by Italian football federation (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio last week.

"I have thought about it and weighed up my decision and when I had no more doubts, I informed the president, the one who chose me and wanted me here. I feel a great desire to work. I'm excited about the competition in June, I am raring to go. These are experiences that happen once in a lifetime and I feel a great responsibility. We know there are other teams who are maybe stronger than us, but we can close the gap by working hard."

Italy face Belgium, Ireland and Sweden at the tournament in France which runs from June 10 to July 10.