Italy coach Giampiero Ventura predicted that his side will be “the revelation of the World Cup” after they beat Netherlands 2-1 in a friendly.
The Azzurri fell behind at the Amsterdam Arena when Alessio Romagnoli deflected a cross into his own net but whole-hearted performances from the likes of Ciro Immobile and Marco Verratti ensured the visitors bounced back.
Eder rifled home an equaliser within seconds of Italy falling behind and Leonardo Bonucci was on hand to score a second after Marco Parolo’s close-range header was saved.
Ventura, whose side are now unbeaten in their last seven matches, told Gazzetta dello Sport: “Winning tonight was important for the image that we’re trying to build and the mentality that we’re developing.
“We showed the team spirit, the ability to fight and to suffer, and we got the result.
“This victory helps us to rise in the rankings as well. I am sure that this is a group that is growing.
“This is a team that will be the revelation of the World Cup in Russia if we get there.”
Ventura reserved particular praise for midfielder Verratti, who built on his match-winning performance in Italy’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Albania with another commanding display.
“Verratti’s performance is what happens when we can express ourselves,” said Ventura. “I’m satisfied with his efforts.
“He had a big game against Albania and when we play well he is able to make the difference.”
Interim Netherlands coach Fred Grim admitted the home side did not defend well enough, but reflected on the positives of an evening when Memphis Depay and Quincy Promes caused Italy problems at the back.
Grim took charge of the team following Danny Blind’s dismissal in the aftermath of the 2-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Bulgaria, but he is expected to return to his role as Under-21s coach while a permanent replacement for Blind is sought.
He told AD: “We played with great flair and energy in bursts, and we also played good football. But you must also be critical: we give goals away too easily.
“We were on the right track and in some lesser matches, such as against Luxembourg [a 3-1 victory], we did win.
“But Saturday [against Bulgaria] was not good, and we know that.
“I have since had much contact with Danny [Blind], and he wishes us the best.”