Gigi Buffon admits Italy lost confidence, momentum and enjoyment after a 1-1 draw with Macedonia. “We need a psychological shift.”
Giorgio Chiellini’s header was cancelled out by Palermo forward Aleksandar Trajkovski in Turin, the first time the Azzurri have dropped points in this World Cup qualifying group apart from the head-to-heads with Spain.
“It was not an exciting performance and perhaps the most worrying aspect is that in our first year, it was fuelled by enthusiasm and on the ascendant. The defeat to Spain damaged our confidence and certainty, as we probably thought we were at a superior level to what we really were,” Buffon told Rai Sport.
“We are still carrying the after-effects of that match. If we had won 1-0 tonight, I don’t think it would’ve changed anything in terms of performance as a team, as individuals, in the fluidity of our play.
“The draw only exacerbated the need to emerge from this difficult moment. Some of us, including myself, must take the responsibility and help the others to be part of a group that has enthusiasm, ideas and wants to go to the World Cup.”
The 3-0 loss to Spain in Madrid not only made it clear Italy wouldn’t top the group, and therefore had to go via play-offs, but also sapped enthusiasm from the side.
“We certainly lacked confidence and that is probably the fault of the match at the Bernabeu. It damaged our self-belief a great deal.
“At times, we were lacking something, but the more representative players must take the reins and help block off a negative situation.
“We must get back to enjoying our football, as it’s the only way to unleash creativity, to shake off fear and be less inhibited when playing. If we get sucked into the vortex of negativity and let our heads drop, we’ll only do worse.
“At this moment we absolutely need a psychological shift, as what we saw tonight is not the team we were in the first year.
“This is a moment where in my view those who know the situation must take on responsibility. We are talking about Italy, we are talking about the World Cup, and football is the treasure of our nation. We mustn’t feel self-pity, we need to get the energy to play another game and I hope against Albania the team proves this is not who we are.
“We need to try something and shake off the tension. We must give more, transmit something to teammates and find the key to be more positive, building up our path.”