Perhaps the most important thing

The four-time World Cup winners are not at the finals for the first time in 60 years, and the deficiencies behind that absence were exposed by France.

However, Mancini, who has brought Mario Balotelli back after a four-year international hiatus, believes his team can reach an equal footing within 12 months.

“This can help to gain experience,” he said.

“Nobody likes to lose, ever, but there were moments where we had the chances to make it 2-2.

“At this moment, unfortunately, France are superior to us and have so many players available to them. We must work and learn to get close to them, but we’re on the right track.

“Perhaps the most important thing is that the debutants did well and if we continue like this, in a year we’ll be at their level, or close to it

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