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Despite Spain loss, Italy shows it’s on the rise

June 28, 2013

FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — No matter how Italy fares in Sunday’s third-place match vs. Uruguay, the team heads home from the Confederations Cup with heads held high and aware it’s a team on the rise with the World Cup a year away.

After threatening to draw level with host Brazil in its final group match, Italy outplayed World Cup holder Spain for long stretches Thursday — even without its top player Mario Balotelli — before falling 7-6 in a penalty shootout following a draining 0-0 draw.

Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon says, “I take pride in what we’ve done. It’s not a time to celebrate but I think a lot of people have appreciated the way we play.”

The semifinal was nothing like last year’s European Championship final, when Spain routed Italy 4-0.

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