Welsh captain Gareth Bale has dismissed comments from Italy coach Roberto Mancini comparing the team to England’s Stoke City club and said they were ready to challenge them in the European Championship meeting on Sunday in Rome. Mancini, who spent 3 and a half years as Manchester City manager between 2009 and 2013, is fully aware of the physical demands of a trip to Stoke, who were then a top team.
Ahead of Sunday’s game, the Italian said Stoke has a very tough style of play and expected a similar test from Wales, adding that Bale’s side also have the technical skills to trouble his team. Asked about his reaction to Mancini’s comments, Bale told a press conference: “I didn’t know Stoke was so good.”
Wales interim manager Robert Page said he was not bothered by the comparison. “We are fully focused on what we can do and how we can hurt the teams. Like I said, I couldn’t be more proud of this (team of) 26 and I will support them every day of the week . “
Italy have advanced to the round of 16 after two wins in as many matches, while Wales are also unbeaten in Group A with four points ahead of the final round. “It will be a big challenge. We have no doubts, even if that (undefeated) record was not there, Italy is a great footballing nation and always makes games difficult,” Bale said.
“We’re under no illusions it will be a tough game, but all we can do is plan, prepare and give it our all when we’re on the pitch. It’s hard to say where the game would rank if we were on the pitch. win but It would certainly be a proud moment for all of us. A great result for Wales and one that we will try to do. “