It’s impossible to hide the regret after failure to win at home against FYR Macedonia. Albania vs. Italy at 20:45 CEST will be a match to win, no ifs and not buts in order to recover after the previous two results against Spain and FYR Macedonia so that the side can go into the play-offs with renewed confidence and in the hope that it delivers a kinder draw.
Ventura wanted to shed some light on the team’s spirit yesterday ahead of the match in Shkodër. “The FYR Macedonia game is over, there isn’t the sense of depression that some portrayed but instead there’s the knowledge that we can do a lot better. Therefore, the agreement with those that you call ‘senators’ was to explain to the others what it means to wear the Italy shirt. We talked about the spirit needed to become important figures. This is all that happened, I’m happy and I thank them because they showed that they’re great men as well as excellent players. The fundamental thing is to restore balance and calm so that we can go and play these play-offs. Italy has to and wants to go to the World Cup.” Captain Gigi Buffon was singing from the same hymn-sheet. “Tomorrow, we have to start to see the response and I hope we can see a team with a strong identity again.”
In their 800th fixture, Italy are against Panucci’s Albania who is looking to build on the important work done by De Biasi in furthering the country’s international pedigree. The Azzurri are already certain of a play-off place but must still win to be a top seed in the draw which will take the FIFA Ranking into account among other factors. Albania were able to pick up four points against FYR Macedonia and Liechtenstein before being beaten by Spain. There have been two previous meetings, both of which were in the last 36 months. Italy won both. The first was a friendly in November 2014 and the second was the home qualifier in March.
Norway’s Svein Oddvar Moen will be the referee at the Loro Boriçi Stadium. The aim is to win and be convincing and to go again with determination and confidence.