Ventura: “It will take heart and determination.” Buffon: “The crowd can give us a big hand”

Ventura: “It will take heart and determination.” Buffon: “

Gian Piero Ventura wants to get his tenth win in the job at all costs and there’s no other option as Italy need to win by two goals to make the World Cup. After the defeat away in Sweden, the Azzurri can only get one result to fly to Russia in June. “We analysed Friday’s match, realising what we did and that we can do a lot more,” said Ventura at the pre-match press conference at the Suning Centre in Appiano Gentile where the Azzurri are training. “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.”

Suggestions and criticism have rained down on Ventura in the past days. “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 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. We’re there now, if we lose we’ll make certain considerations and if we win we’ll make other ones.”

After the match in Solna, the Coach didn’t hide his disappointment at the lenient refereeing. “I said that the match could have been been refereed in a more correct way but I don’t want to go into it. Certainly, when someone plays with a broken nose 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.” Marco Verratti will not play after the booking be picked up in Solna ruled him out and changes are expected with just 72 hours of turnaround between the matches. “I’ll change something and we’ll hope to change for the better but we’ll see this at the end of the match.”

As is common during the press conference a day ahead of the match, Gigi Buffon was also in attendance. “We want to go to the World Cup,” said the Azzurri captain. “It’s a moment with a lot of tension and there’s a sense of responsibility that we all need considering what’s at stake. There’s the chance to overturn the result and we’re still holding the dream of achieving our objective in the knowledge that it’s a very important moment for us, for the National Team and the history of the National Team.” There will time for personal decision but all focus is on tomorrow’s match. “There have been a lot of times in my career when I’ve been faced by an important decision but that’s the destiny of all of us. Now, my situation doesn’t matter at all, I’d only combine a personal accomplishment with the more important collective one.”

The support of the Stadio Meazza will be important than ever and the Azzurri are unbeaten in Milan with 22 wins and four draws from 26 encounters and it will be full to try and help push Italy to the World Cup.”It’s not up to me to lead the people, but I would like to see every fan at the stadium leave their club colours at home and only wear blue. There will have to be a certain willingness to accept some mistakes which we could make tomorrow, that way every play can feel that they’re understood and being helped by the crowd. We can’t just have a critical approach as that harms you. After the 90th minute there could be whistles and we have to be humble enough to accept them. But for as long as there’s hope, a positive attitude from the crowd can give us a big hand.”

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