Francesco Guidolin hailed Italy's "aggressive mentality" and "strong spirit" after Antonio Conte's men moved into the round of 16 at Euro 2016.
"I like them because they have a strong spirit," Guidolin told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"They leave nothing to chance and are convinced of their capabilities. I can tell the players listen to Conte."
Despite topping Group E, critics of Italy have suggested Conte's tactics are overly defensive, but Guidolin does not agree.
"I don't buy that," he said. "Many believe a three-man backline is defensive, but that isn't the case under Conte.
"When they have the ball the wide players always push high up the field and the central midfielders make late runs.
"I don't know whether I've used a three or four-man backline more regularly throughout my career. We play with four at Swansea, but the main point is that Conte's side play with an aggressive mentality.
"Conte's side know how to close the opposition and mark behind the ball, but who doesn't do that?"
"I have two players there in Ashley Williams and Neil Taylor," said Guidolin. "They have battled and never given up. Their fans are great, as they all have red shirts.
"I like Spain, who have more individual talent than us. France are perhaps the favourites, but nothing is certain in the knockout stages. Croatia would be tough opponents in the round of 16, but I don't think they want to face us either. Italy always command>