During Wednesday’s press conference at the FIGC headquarters, President Carlo Tavecchio confirmed that coach Gian Piero Ventura will remain in charge of the Azzurri until 2019-20.
“With a contract extension until 2020,” said Tavecchio. “We wanted to reward coach Ventura in recognition of his recent work. Largely thanks to the cultural and generational changes that he is taking forwards, but also because we want to put him to be in the best possible position ahead of the test against Spain on September 2nd. Even though it’s not the be all and end all, it is still a game of extreme importance and you all know how much it is worth.”
“I want to thank President Tavecchio and CEO Uva for having put their confidence in me,” said the Azzurri coach following his recent return from Verona’s pre-season training camp. “I believe at the moment it is not about what we’ve done, but instead what we want to do. This show of trust motivates me further, in the sense that they have complete conviction in helping us achieve something important. We’ve started a generational change that must still be completed and we now have three objectives: qualifying for the World Cup, being the dark horses at the World Cup and then finally being among the favourites at the European Championship.”
Ventura made his debut as coach of the National team on September 1st 2016 last year. During his first season he has recoded seven wins, two draws (against Spain and Germany) and one defeat. As for the European Qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Italy are in control of Group G with Spain, with the pair currently separated on goal difference after six matches. The upcoming clash between the two sides on September 2nd at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu could prove decisive after the initial 1-1 draw during the first game: “We’ve started on a precise path,” Ventura added. “As we are first with Spain, it means we have done well. What pleases me is the complete planning we have in place. Just reaching the World Cup is not enough, instead we need to carve out our own space as key protagonists. This would mean that we’d built something important. We can now use the ‘planning’ with confidence.”
The generational change promoted by Ventura has also led to a decrease in the squad’s average age (from 31-years during Italy vs. France in September 2016 to 29.3 during Italy vs. Liechtenstein in June 2017), as well as the debut of 11 players in just 10 games (Rugani, Belotti, Donnarumma, Romagnoli, Zappacosta, D’Ambrosio, Gagliardini, Spinazzola, Verdi, Petagna, Pellegrini). “Qualifying for the World Cup is fine, “ the coach concluded. “But doing so with an average age of 25 would indicate that we’ve achieved something really important. We must be ready when we need to replace players like Buffon and Chiellini. As of today, they can still make a notable contribution to the National Team, although I think it’ll be hard for them at the Euros.”