Wednesday 21 August 2019

Ventura calls for 'heart' on Azzurri's day of destiny

Italy v Sweden, Live, Sky Sports, 7.45

Italy manager Gian Piero Ventura. Photo: Reuters
Italy manager Gian Piero Ventura. Photo: Reuters

Jamie Holland

Italy boss Gian Piero Ventura has spoken about the need for "heart and determination" as his side prepare to host Sweden in tonight's World Cup qualifying play-off second leg.

The Italians are in danger of missing out on the finals for the first time since 1958, having lost leg one 1-0 in Stockholm on Friday.

Ventura said: "We analysed Friday's match, realising what we did and that we can do a lot more.

"Tactics are important but on their own they're not enough, just how heart and determination aren't enough on their own. Together, the three things guarantee success."

Sweden were notably physical in the first leg but only one of their team was booked, with no fresh suspensions being activated for the Milan match, while Italy's Marco Verratti picked up a yellow card that means he will miss out.

Ventura was unhappy at the way the game had been officiated, and the 69-year-old added yesterday: "Certainly, when someone plays with a broken nose (Leonardo Bonucci) there's some discontent. But we're Italy and if we go through we'll have to do it by playing football."

Ventura, whose team finished second in Group G behind Spain, has been coming under increasing pressure.

Regarding criticism and advice, he said: "It would take months to listen it all. A coach always listens but then makes their own mind up.

"When I took over (in the summer of 2016) the situation was this: only one team would qualify directly, and Spain were in the group, the journey was going well but we took into account that Spain were probably stronger and we'd likely have to go to the play-off."

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