The Confederations Cup semi-final defeat on Thursday came almost a year after Spain routed the Azzurri 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final.
“It is clear that there is no longer a gap between the teams. I am proud of my players. Today (Thursday) we showed Italy’s soul. We haven’t always been able to play this way and it’s important now that we maintain this form. We will leave the tournament knowing that we can have great results in the future,” Prandelli said.
Jesus Navas settled a nail-biting penalty shoot-out.
After the semi-final finished goalless following extra time, Leonardo Bonucci proved the fall guy for the Italians, blazing the 13th kick of the shoot-out over the bar before Manchester City new boy Navas calmly tucked his penalty home.
Spain will now seek to complete their set of senior international titles, having also won Olympic gold in Barcelona in 1992, but hosts Brazil were spared a 120-minute semi-final and will have had 24 extra hours to recover.
Italy will now meet Uruguay in Sunday’s third-place play-off in Salvador, and Prandelli feels the gallant nature of their loss to Spain will give them renewed belief for the challenges ahead.
“This match has been a great test for us, no doubt about that, and we passed it despite the result,” he said.