Italy vs Sweden - Gian Piero Ventura calls on his Italy side to show heart in vital clash

Posted Monday, November 13, 2017 by PA

Italy boss Gian Piero Ventura has spoken about the need for "heart and determination" as his side prepare to host Sweden in Monday's World Cup qualifying play-off second leg.

The Italians are in danger of missing out on the finals for the first time since 1958, having lost leg one 1-0 in Stockholm on Friday.

Ventura, quoted by, said at a press conference ahead of the return meeting at Milan's San Siro stadium: "We analysed Friday's match, realising what we did and that we can do a lot more.

"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."

Sweden were notably physical in the first leg but only one of their team was booked, with no fresh suspensions being activated for the Milan match, while Italy's Marco Verratti picked up a yellow card that means he will miss out on Monday.

After that game Ventura expressed unhappiness at the way it had been officiated, saying he had wanted "a more even-handed approach" and hoped "in Milan they give to us what they granted to them here."

The 69-year-old added on Sunday: "I said that the match could have been been refereed in a more correct way.

"Certainly, when someone plays with a broken nose (Leonardo Bonucci) 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."

Ventura, whose team are in the play-offs after finishing second in Group G behind Spain, has been coming under increasing pressure.

Regarding criticism and advice, he said: "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 (in the summer of 2016) 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."

Meanwhile, opposite number Janne Andersson has emphasised the importance of the on-pitch "duels" as Sweden look to reach their first World Cup finals since 2006.

"We have to dare when we have the ball, so you don't get passive and anxious," Andersson said, quoted by Aftonbladet.

"And we have to take the duels. Football is pretty simple - taking it down to the smallest part, it is a duel between two players. Each time you win one, you get the ball, usually. If you lose the duel, the opponent gets the ball.

"It will be the same on Monday. Take the duel every damn time. Enter the duel as if it was the last thing you do in life."

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