Friday October 6 2017
Ventura: 'Italy struggle in play-offs'

Giampiero Ventura again slammed the door on Jorginho, but confessed “if Italy play like in the second half with Macedonia, we’ll struggle in the play-offs.”

The Azzurri had only previously dropped points in their head-to-heads with Spain, but were pegged back 1-1 at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino.

When Giorgio Chiellini’s tap-in was cancelled out by Aleksandar Trajkovski, the Nazionale was jeered off the field in Ventura’s old stadium.

“The result is not positive, it is not what we wanted, nor what we expected,” confessed the CT in his Press conference.

“Today the only thing that matters is getting our energy back, recover a few players and go to achieve what this group deserves, which is a place in the play-offs.”

Italy need a point in Albania on Monday to be sure of the play-offs, although if Bosnia fail to beat Belgium tomorrow, then they’ll be among the top eight runners-up anyway.

The biggest problem now is securing the Azzurri’s ranking, as they run the serious risk of not being seeded and therefore being drawn against a side like Euro 2016 winners Portugal.

Ventura talked about fitness levels after the draw with Macedonia, but we are in October and the season is in full swing.

“In September it was more of a general issue, now it is a specific one. There are players who are simply not playing regularly for their clubs. Roberto Gagliardini did well for as long as he could, but he hasn’t really had a full game in a month and as time went on, he was drifting away.”

Considering injuries to Claudio Marchisio, Marco Verratti, Daniele De Rossi and Lorenzo Pellegrini, Ventura was again asked why he wouldn’t call up Napoli star Jorginho.

“I must’ve explained it about 20 times. You might not agree, but if you ask me a question, then I give you an answer and you don’t agree with it, that is your problem. I explained it is a technical issue.”

Unfortunately, it looks as if Torino striker Andrea Belotti won’t be able to take part in the play-offs either, as he has been ruled out for a month with a knee injury.

“I don’t think we’ve got any chance of getting Belotti back in time.

“If we play like we did in the second half today, then we will struggle to get through the play-offs. It doesn’t take a Coach to realise that.

“If from here to the play-offs – assuming we get there – we can add a few more players who actually play… evidently those are two different situations.”

The players all mentioned losing confidence after the 3-0 defeat to Spain last month, but this surprised Ventura.

“I think the praise was exaggerated before and the criticism is exaggerated now. I had moments that were positive and negative, like all Coaches.

“In the last six minutes, Leonardo Bonucci moved up to act as a centre-forward, because the team wanted a victory. In the second half we weren’t as aggressive, but that doesn’t mean we lacked confidence.

“Macedonia lost only one game in 2017, it was 2-1 to Spain and at the 95th minute they could’ve equalised. We’re not talking about Spain or Germany, but they are still a tough side.”

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