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Ajax Amsterdam
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Akwa United miss chance to close gap at the top


Prandelli calls for Verratti improvement

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli was critical of midfielder Marco Verratti in his side's 1-1 draw with Netherlands on Wednesday, despite the substitute scoring a late equaliser for the Azzurri.

Veratti, 19, netted his debut strike late in injury time after replacing Daniele De Rossi in the 61st minute but Prandelli was quick to point out the mistakes he made in the forty minutes he was on the field.

"The system we worked more on is the 4-3-1-2," he told RAI tv. "It is therefore natural we will be more comfortable with it, but we have to do better with the 4-3-3 too.

"Verratti has great character and technique, but he needs to be quicker in midfield and be far more tactical. He scored a fantastic goal, though."

The youngster moved to Paris Saint-Germain in a €12 million deal after an impressive Serie B campaign with Pescara last term. He too recognised where he must improve, telling a reporter after the match that some of his poor tackling was due to the slick playing surface.

"Prandelli is not the first to tell me that I mustn't go into a sliding tackle. That suggests I really do need to improve on that aspect of my game," Verratti said. "It was very slippery in Amsterdam and I even saw the goalkeeper fall over, which is a sign the pitch isn't in great shape."

Although he had hoped to earn a starting berth for Italy in the friendly, Verratti is happy to slowly work his way into the national team and praised team-mate Alberto Gilardino who provided the assist for his goal.

"Gilardino called for the ball and he's very good at protecting it so I immediately gave it to him," he said. "I thank him for helping me to score this goal. I don't think about being on the bench as at just 19 I am more than happy to just be in this squad. We are together for very little time to prepare for friendlies, so we try to give our all whether it's a qualifier or a friendly."


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