Cesare Prandelli was in pragmatic mood after seeing his Italy side outclassed by Spain in the final of Euro 2012, conceding that his opponents looked "fresher" from the outset.
Italy conceded four times as they fell to the heaviest defeat in European Championship final history, ending the game with ten men after substitute Thiago Motta suffered a hamstring injury.
“It was harsh, but you could see straight away they were much fresher,” Prandelli told Rai Sport after the final whistle in Kiev. "We used up a lot of energy this week and didn’t have time to recover, so when 2-0 down against these players that was inevitable.
“We didn’t take the wrong approach, as we realised physically they were on another level. At times the generosity of this team hurts the balance of the side. It was an extraordinary tournament and I complimented the lads for their efforts throughout Euro 2012.”
Prandelli also had some words of wisdom for young striker Mario Balotelli, who stormed off down the tunnel at full-time, only to reappear before the medal ceremony.
"I told Mario that these are experiences you have to deal with and have to accept,'' said Prandelli. "You have to hold your hands up and say the opponents were better, accept defeat. But you also have to make sure this helps you going forward and you can grow from the experience. This has happened to a number of players, and will happen again, but this is what sport is all about.''
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon conceded that the game with Germany took something out of the Italy side, but was quick to praise the performance of their opponents, Spain.
Buffon added: “The game with Germany felt like a Final, but tonight there was nothing to be done. They were too superior and so the regrets about losing are possibly less hard, as when you face a powerful and invulnerable force like this, you can accept the defeat easier. We had a great tournament, it was a wonderful journey and clearly you want to win when in the Final, but here you do meet a side of your level. Tonight we met a team with an inestimable value.
“We thank the fans with all our hearts, as they never abandoned us and it gave us pride to give them these emotions. At times you meet someone stronger and so credit to them. The Nazionale belongs to everyone and is the only vehicle that reanimates and brings some joy back into the homes of fans.”