Ventura: “San Siro needs to take us by the hand”. Bonucci: “We now need the game of our lives”

Ventura: “San Siro needs to take us by the hand”. Bonucci: “We now ne

“Now we just have to win, we need to overturn a result in Milan after this which wasn’t the correct one. San Siro needs to take us by the hand,” Gian Piero Ventura looked ahead after the final whistle in Sweden to Monday’s return leg and Italy’s last chance to book their place in Russia. There was a sense of regret after a match decided by a shot deflected off De Rossi during one of Sweden’s few chances. “The defeat wasn’t deserved,” added Ventura. “They didn’t even have a shot on Buffon’s goal, we had chances and hit the post. To have played on an equal basis is the minimum that we could have asked for but it’s not an excuse.” The Coach wasn’t pleased with the Swedes’ physical play as they only picked up the one yellow card which Cakir showed to Berg after two minutes after the Al-Ain forward jumped with a high elbow. “I hope that in Milan they give to us what they gave to them, in a match with so much at stake, a different approach was needed.”

Ventura will be without Verratti who picked up a booking that rules him out and he announced in advance that there will be changes. “The speed at which we move the ball could be better and we could improve our play at the same time. They are a very physical side, they send the ball from one part of the pitch to another, we knew this and we struggled a bit with this but we didn’t give them anything. On Monday, keeping our heads and the will to overturn this result will be vital, I hope that we can do that with the help of the crowd and better management of the match.”

Leonardo Bonucci was one of the players who suffered the most at the hands of an extremely physical approach from the Swedes as he ended up on the ground several times after duels against Berg and Toivonen: “I broke my nose,” said the Azzurri defender, “Toivonen should have been sent off. The referee should have stopped their extremely aggressive approach. We now have to think about the return leg and learn from the mistakes made today. We were too slow, but it’s in the past now. We knew this was a 180-minute match up and that it was important to score; we unfortunately didn’t manage to do so, we only hit the post. It ended 1-0 for them, we will have to fight now. We expect the San Siro crowd to support us from the first minute until the last. I still believe that we can make it, I expect a great performance from us. The next game is too important, we will have to play with our heads.”

Matteo Darmian went a hair’s breadth from equalising as his right-foot effort hit the post. “Other than when we hit the post, there were other chances while theirs was a fortunate goal. There’s 90 minutes left, we need to play a great game. We all want to go to the World Cup. Tonight, we only lacked the goal, on Monday the fans will have to give us a big hand.”

Lorenzo Insigne was on the same wavelength after coming on for the final 15 minutes in search of the equaliser. “They only had one chance, we didn’t play badly. This was just the first half, at San Siro there will be the second half.  A World Cup without Italy isn’t possible, we need to fight tooth and nail, give 200 per cent and we hope that the San Siro can help. The Coach knows who I am as a player, when he calls on me I always look to respond. I’ll always give 100 per cent, the important thing is to be available and willing.”

Marco Parolo is also already thinking of the return leg: “It was a scrappy match which was decided by a deflection. An unfortunate episode often makes the difference in a game. We are angry, we want to overturn the result. A huge performance will be needed, we have to forget today’s. Italy have to qualify for the World Cup.”

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