Spain vs Italy - De Rossi targets fourth and final World Cup appearance

Posted Friday, September 01, 2017 by PA

Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi is targeting victory over Group G rivals Spain to continue his dream of participating in a fourth World Cup.

The Azzurri travel to face Spain at Real Madrid's Bernabeu on Saturday evening with both nations locked on the same number of points at the top of the group.

Both have won five of their opening six qualifiers having drawn 1-1 in Turin when the two teams clashed 11 months ago.

With only the group winners assured of a spot at the World Cup finals in Russia next summer this game could leave one of football's biggest countries needing to qualify through a play-off.

De Rossi, who scored a late penalty in the previous encounter with Spain to claim a share of the spoils, is an experienced campaigner in an Italy squad which has plenty of young talent.

While the 34-year-old admits the hosts will go into this clash as favourites, De Rossi is keen for Gian Piero Ventura's side to flourish under the pressure.

"They're the favourites but we're not going there as sacrificial lambs, we're aware that we can do something," the Roma midfielder told reporters at a press conference.

"In recent years, Spain have shone brightly in front of the world, but we're also coming into this game off the back of some good performances, especially against them which gives us courage and confidence.

"I hope that we'll play an excellent match against them, also in terms of our nerves and focus as to win in Madrid would be a great experience.

"Ours is a young team, with a good dose of personality we've always shown that we know what to do on the pitch.

"I dream of playing at my fourth World Cup, it would be the final one for me and a great adventure if I can experience it with this wonderful group."

Spain, World Cup winners in 2010, will have to deal with a different kind of pressure in front of an expectant crowd in Madrid.

Captain Sergio Ramos knows the fans will be expecting an entertaining match.

"For football lovers tomorrow will be a very special match," he told the Spanish Football Association's website.

"We have to thank the fans for the effort they make to come and watch us, both at the stadium and on television. Between all of us we have to create a unique vibe for them to feel the heat.

"Personally, it's a very special match for me, more than others. We've played against great squads, but the truth is that this Spain v Italy is different."

Marco Asensio is in line for his fourth cap after a scintillating start to the season and his team-mate Ramos has backed the 21-year-old to cope with the spotlight.

"When they're such young players, praise usually doesn't help, but he's very well grounded," he added.

"We have to rid him of pressures and weight and allow him to work how he likes."

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