Italy’s performance in their 1-0 win over Sweden was not convincing by any means, but it showed that the Azzurri are capable of grinding results out in the difficult matches. Head coach Antonio Conte was all praises for his side, as the win secures their spot in the round of 16 stage of the competition.

 

The soon-to-be Chelsea manager said that his team did well to keep their shape against Sweden, who kept the majority of the possession (51%) despite the fact that the Italians were clear favourites in the game.

“First and foremost, we need to be very pleased. The fact that we are through is a huge achievement,” Conte was quoted as saying by ESPN. “We struggled in the first half, and Sweden did well to get into spaces and reached the ball before we did. Even then, we allowed Sweden practically nothing. We created all the chances, hitting the woodwork and scoring the goal.”

The game seemed to be heading towards a deadlock, but Sampdoria striker Eder snatched the win with a superb strike just two minutes before the end of regulation time. When asked about the win, Eder said on UEFA’s official website that hard work from the entire team had earned the win for Italy.

“When one works so hard, the joy always arrives. There’s no such thing as an easy game,” said Eder. “I dedicate this goal to the whole group, everybody who has worked with us this last year and a half and been here from May 18, because we’ve prepared well.”

The Italian defence on Friday evening was again particularly impressive, managing to keep the Zlatan Ibrahimovic led Swedish attack in check.

Zlatan’s threat was completely nullified by the Italian defensive trio of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Georgio Chiellini. In fact, Ibrahimovic could only pull the trigger two times in the entire match and neither of his shots were on target [via Whoscored].

Interesting stats from an uninteresting game

TOULOUSE, FRANCE - JUNE 17: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden looks dejected during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group E match between Italy and Sweden at Stadium Municipal on June 17, 2016 in Toulouse, France. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
The match between Italy and Sweden was not an entertaining one by any stretch of the imagination. While the Italians sat back absorbing all the pressure, the Swedes failed to create any significant chances, especially in the first half.

What was more astounding though was how poorly Eder performed in the first half. To put things into perspective, Eder did not play a single pass in the first 45 minutes of the match.

Eder’s strike partner Graziano Pelle was not having a great time on the pitch either. The two of them combined could not register a single touch inside Sweden’s penalty area.

Conte’s side might have been lacking in attack, but they made up for it all with their brilliant defending. The Italians managed to break a few records with their sturdy defensive performance against Sweden.

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