World Cup play-offs: We're Italy, we'll qualify: Ventura
"We're Italy and if we qualify it will be by playing football," coach Gian Piero Ventura insisted on Sunday on the eve of a crunch World Cup play-off against Sweden in Milan.
"We're Italy and if we qualify it will be by playing football," coach Gian Piero Ventura insisted on Sunday on the eve of a crunch World Cup play-off against Sweden in Milan. Four-time world champions Italy need to overturn a 1-0 first-leg defeat to avoid missing out on the World Cup for the first time since 1958. "We need everything tomorrow -- tactics, heart and determination," Ventura told a press conference at the team's Appiano Gentile training centre north of Milan. The 69-year-old remained jovial and defiant that his troops would be on the road to Russia, adding he was "amazed people are surprised we're in the play-offs".
Italy's coach Gian Piero Ventura during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Sweden and Italy in Solna,Sweden on November 10, 2017. Pic/ AFP
"We knew from the moment we picked Spain in the group phase that we'd be heading for the play-offs. Nobody can be surprised we reached this point. "I realise this is the way it works in Italy, but I didn't expect all this," he added of the reaction generated by the humiliation of an impending exit. "We started out with people talking about the apocalypse. "The first leg performance shows that we are perfectly capable of overturning the 1-0 result.
"We analysed the things that went well and others that did not go so well. I'm fully aware that this game is fundamental for us, but it's the same scenario as when I first signed to lead the national side," he continued. "We will change something, because only 48 hours have passed. We hope that it'll be change for the better." Marco Verratti will be suspended for Monday's game with defender Leonardo Bonucci wearing a protective mask after breaking his nose in a bruising first leg against Sweden. "Individuals playing are irrelevant, it's about the team and the overall approach," said Ventura.