Italy vs Sweden
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Italy boss Gian Piero Ventura has spoken about the need for “heart and determination” as his side prepare to host Sweden in Monday’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, quoted by figc.it, 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 Monday.
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 on Sunday: “I said that 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.
“I hope that there is great respect in the match.”
Ventura, whose team are in the play-offs after finishing 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 arrived at the national team (in the summer of 2016) the situation was this: only one team would qualify directly for the World Cup 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.
Italy’s biggest concern is the absence of PSG midfielder Marco Verratti through suspension.
And it is set to be a Napoli player who replaces him.
If Ventura is feeling cavalier, winger Lorenzo Insigne could move into the middle, but the Italian media believe deep-lying playmaker Jorginho is the more likely started.
Sweden have no new injuries or suspensions ahead of the huge match in Milan.