Ventura rally call with Italy on brink
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 at a press conference ahead of the return meeting at Milan’s San Siro stadium: “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 on today.
After that game Ventura expressed unhappiness at the way it had been officiated, saying he had wanted “a more even-handed approach” and hoped “in Milan they give to us what they granted to them here.”
The 69-year-old added: “The match could have been been refereed in a more correct way.
“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.”
Meanwhile, opposite number Janne Andersson has emphasised the importance of the on-pitch “duels” as Sweden look to reach their first World Cup finals since 2006.
“We have to dare when we have the ball, so you don’t get passive and anxious,” Andersson said. “And we have to take the duels. Each time you win one, you get the ball, usually. If you lose the duel, the opponent gets the ball.
“Take the duel every damn time.”