Ventura blames inexperience for blackout
Ramos knee problem heaps more injury pain on Madrid
ITALY coach Giampiero Ventura blamed inexperience for a secondhalf blackout which left his team on the brink of a shock defeat to rank outsiders Macedonia in a World Cup qualifier yesterday.
Macedonia, trailing 1-0 at halftime, scored two goals in three minutes and had two clear chances to score a third shortly afterwards as Italy dramatically fell apart.
The four-times world champions looked lost and could barely string two passes together until two goals from Ciro Immobile rescued the Italians and gave them a 3-2 win.
“For 10 minutes, we stopped being a team, but then we were once again the Italy that everyone knows and we got this result,” said Ventura, who replaced Antonio Conte as coach after Euro 2016.
“We made mistakes borne out of inexperience, but that is something you have to accept with a group of young players.”
The win puts Italy level on seven points with group leaders Spain who they trail goal difference after three games.
Ventura, a 68-year-old who is widely respected in Italy but has never won a major title in a long, much-travelled coaching career, said he still had confidence in his players.
“It’s unlikely that we will keep making these mistakes, all we can do is improve,” he said. “We have to be ourselves from now on. But with this group of lads, we have the possibility to do well.”
Veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon described the game as “very strange.” “We took the lead but we didn’t administer this well because we gave away too many scoring chances, and that’s a mistake we don’t usually make,” he said.
“The good thing was the result, we have been rewarded for playing with heart and soul although it was maybe more than we deserved.
“At times we make mistakes, so that some games that seem easy on paper become complicated.” – Reuters REAL MADRID’S injury crisis worsened yesterday when influential defender Sergio Ramos was forced off in Spain’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying win away to Albania with a knee strain that could sideline him for up to a month. The centreback received treatment on the pitch after falling awkwardly while contesting a corner but was substituted by coach Julen Lopetegui in the 80th minute. “Sergio’s injury looks like a strain and we hope that’s all it is but the doctors are the ones who have to determine what it is. He’s a very important player for us and his club,” the coach told a news conference. Ramos will undergo further tests when he returns to the Spanish capital to determine the extent of his injury. Although Ramos has endured a stumbling start to the season, conceding four penalties for club and country, his absence will be keenly felt by Real and coach Zinedine Zidane, who has recently been without Brazilian duo Marcelo and Casemiro and midfield maestro Luka Modric. The former Real great has also faced serious criticism for the team’s stuttering run of four consecutive draws in all competitions, which culminated in a shock 11 draw at home to Eibar last Sunday. Ramos is likely to miss Real’s La Liga games against Real Betis, Athletic Bilbao, Alaves and Leganes and two Champions League group games with Legia Warsaw. He is also doubtful for Spain’s World Cup qualifier with Macedonia on Nov 12 and friendly versus England on Nov 15. Marcelo is set to return from his calf injury to face Betis on Saturday but Casemiro, credited with balancing the team last season and helping Real set a joint record 16 straight league wins, is not due back until the end of October as he recovers from a fractured fibula. Real’s Croatia midfielder Modric, nursing a knee problem, is not expected to return until the start of November. – Reuters
Italy’s Andrea Belotti (left) vies with Macedonia’s Daniel Mojsov (right) during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying match at Philip II of Macedon stadium in Skopje yesterday. –