Gi­ampiero Ven­tura says Spain match not de­ci­sive

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Italy man­ager Gi­ampiero Ven­tura de­scribes this week’s Spain clash as “im­por­tant, but not de­ci­sive”.

The Az­zurri face Julen Lopetegui’s side on Thurs­day, a re­match of the Last 16 clash at Euro 2016 which saw Spain de­feated 2-0.

“It’s im­por­tant, but not de­ci­sive,” Ven­tura told re­porters in a press con­fer­ence at Cover­ciano. “We’re fac­ing the best team in the group. The last game they lost in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing was 23 years ago. They’re a team which has changed in their ap­proach and how they do things on the pitch.

“It’s a dif­fer­ent Spain to the past.”

Ven­tura was also asked about Balotelli’s ex­clu­sion from the fi­nal squad. The con­tro­ver­sial striker, now play­ing with Nice in France, re­ceived a pre-call af­ter his goalscor­ing ex­ploits, but wasn’t named in the fi­nal squad.

“As a player he’s not in ques­tion, it’s only the rest that’'s up for dis­cus­sion. I said that noone would be fore­closed on. The pre-call came be­cause he’s back to play­ing and scor­ing, now it takes con­sis­tency. If he con­tin­ues like this it’s ok.

“The pre-call is a sig­nal that the door isn’t closed to any­one.

“Ciro Im­mo­bile and An­drea Belotti? They can play to­gether, be­cause they’ve al­ready done so. They’ll def­i­nitely play one of the two matches,” said the Ital­ian men­tor.

Ra­heem Ster­ling in ac­tion dur­ing the Cham­pi­ons League match be­tween Celtic and Man City last week

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