‘Argentina are one of the best teams in the world’
Italy will look to put the disappointment of failing to qualify for the World Cup behind them and kick-start a new era for the Azzurri by beating Argentina in the 'Finalissima', Italy players said on Tuesday.
The match on Wednesday between the European champions and the Copa America winners will be played at Wembley Stadium, where Italy triumphed over England on penalties last July to win their second European Championship title.
"It will be a great match and it is a great tribute to many players, like Giorgio (Chiellini), who will leave the national team, and Argentinian players soon to leave the national team,"
But Italy's joy turned to anguish eight months later when they failed to qualify for the World Cup for a second time running after losing in the playoffs to unheralded North Macedonia.
"We wrote history in this stadium, so we gave a great emotion to all Italians," Lorenzo Insigne told reporters.
"Tomorrow it will be a very important match for us in order to start over again and to bring Italy back to where it deserves (to be) and where we always were."
Lionel Messi's Argentina are no pushovers, however, with the team stitching together a 31-match unbeaten run heading into the showdown at Wembley.
Italy had set a world record 37-match unbeaten run which came to an end in October last year when Spain beat Roberto Mancini's side in the Nations League semi-finals.
"Argentina are one of the best national teams in the world," defender Leonardo Bonucci said.
"It's very rare in football to have this winning streak -- as we did and as Argentina is doing. So you need to compromise, be very respectful, be very aggressive to win this trophy.
"Because as we've said, with this trophy we need to start over and set the basis to return Italy to where it deserves (to be), where it was one year ago."
Mancini said the match between the two teams -- who have won six World Cup titles between them -- is one of the "classic games of world football".
"It will be a great match and it is a great tribute to many players, like Giorgio (Chiellini), who will leave the national team, and Argentinian players soon to leave the national team," he said.
"So it will be a great, emotional match."