Candreva: Italy criticism was excessive after Spain loss

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Italy did not deserve the weight of criticism levelled at them after losing to Spain, according to the midfielder.

Antonio Candreva believes the criticism Italy received after their defeat in Spain was "excessive" as the Azzurri returned to winning ways against Israel.

Candreva and Inter 9/1 for Serie A title

Italy look certain to require a play-off to qualify for next year's World Cup in Russia, having fallen behind Spain in Group G following a one-sided 3-0 loss in Madrid.

But Ciro Immobile's sixth goal of the campaign ensured a 1-0 victory against Israel on Tuesday – all but securing a top-two place – and midfielder Candreva feels Italy deserve more respect for their work in the past year.

"We needed a victory, we got it and I thought it was a positive performance that was consistent with the work we've done in the last year," the Inter star said.

"Criticism is part of the job, but we are a solid group and some of it was excessive. I think the Azzurri have done good things this year.

"The defeat in Madrid was painful for us more than anyone - we were not expecting it and we have learned from our mistakes."

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And team-mate Davide Zappacosta added that the Spain game offered Italy a reality check: "The game in Madrid made us realise many things.

"We have to be a compact side, to fight for every ball and harass every opponent.

"This sort of match [against Israel] is even more difficult as the opposition locks down all the space and make it hard for you."