Ventura’s Azzurri will this evening take on FYR Macedonia in a crucial fixture at the Stadio Olimpico – Grande Torino in Turin (20:45 CEST), hoping to solidify second spot in the group and also improve upon their international ranking. Their result tonight could may well propel Italy into the qualifying play-offs (scheduled for November) with the matches set to be decided in Zurich on October 17th.
This fixture will be Italy’s 37th appearance in Turin, one year after their last match there (a 1-1 draw against Spain at the Allianz Stadium). The Azzurri’s last match specifically at the Olimpico was in 2009 during a 2-0 win over Bulgaria, while their record in Turin is that of 24 wins, seven draws and five defeats. This also includes 77 goals scored and 36 conceded in fixtures against 19 different opponents since 1912. This evening’s fixture will be Ventura’s 13th in charge, who up till now has guided the National Team to eight wins, two draws and two defeats, picking up a points average of 2.37 per game (third in the all-time list of Azzurri coaches, sitting behind Sacchi and Valcareggi). Their recent defeat to Spain in Madrid put an end to a run of 56 successive positive results in both World Cup and European Championship qualifiers.
Macedonia are currently 103rd in the FIFA World Rankings and are in second to last place in Group G with seven points. The previous matchup between the two teams was held in Skopje on October 9th and was notably the first ever clash between them. Italy secured a 3-2 win thanks to a brace from Immobile and a goal from Belotti. The Portuguese Tiago Martins will be in charge for Friday’s game.