After paying tribute to the Nené who passed away yesterday (“He was a friend who I shared many great moments with”), and honouring Italian football legends such as Scirea and Facchetti on the anniversary of their deaths, Ventura announced that the qualifying campaign was starting at the right moment. “We are now on a new path; enough comparisons have been made with the past.” He then looked back on the friendly with France. “The result was certainly negative but what happened was a lot less negative than the score. I made compliments in public and private to the players. It was a glamorous friendly against France, tomorrow’s game is one where the performance doesn’t matter but the result.”
Along with Daniele De Rossi who was injured against France, Ventura will also have to make do without Andrea Belotti who didn’t travel to Haifa because of a slight muscular injury. There is also further fitness work to do with sides traditionally not being in the best of shape at the start of September. Ventura also pondered about past records: “The facts say that an Italian side has only gotten through the Champions League playoff once in the last ten years.” On the other hand, Italy are unbeaten in 50 World Cup and European qualifiers. “If statistics were always a guarantee then everything would be too simple and nice. I don’t believe much in statistics, but rather the ability of the players and their potential to improve. I expect them to improve tomorrow and we’ll speed up which will help our confidence.”
Gigi Buffon was again sat by Ventura and he gave a very positive account of the new coach. “He’s a coach who came to the right place at the right time. In his past he has always made an imprint and his sides speak for themselves.” The great goalkeeper also spoke happily about Leonardo Bonucci’s arrival back into the team. “We are happy for him and he can add some presence in an important setting. Leo arrived as he usually does with enthusiasm, seriousness and the will to transmit what needs to be done to all of us in as we approach a match like tomorrow’s and we believe it’s a very important game.”
Click here for the match's press kits Squad list and official numbers
Goalkeepers: 1 Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), 12 Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), 13 Federico Marchetti (Lazio);
Defenders: 14 Luca Antonelli (Milan), 4 Davide Astori (Fiorentina), 15 Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), 19 Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), 3 Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), 2 Mattia De Sciglio (Milan), 5 Angelo Obinze Ogbonna (West Ham), 25 Daniele Rugani (Juventus);
Midfielders: 21 Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina), 7 Giacomo Bonaventura (Milan), 6 Antonio Candreva (Inter), 24 Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), 18 Riccardo Montolivo (Milan), 8 Marco Parolo (Lazio), 10 Marco Verratti (Paris Saint Germain);
Forwards: 20 Andrea Belotti (Torino), 17 Eder Citadin Martins (Inter), 22 Manolo Gabbiadini (Napoli), 11 Ciro Immobile (Lazio), 23 Leonardo Pavoletti (Genoa), 9 Graziano Pellè (Shandong Luneng).
Staff – Head Coach: Gian Piero Ventura; Assistant Coaches: Salvatore Sullo, Paolo Vanoli and Gianluca Spinelli; Secretary: Mauro Vladovich; Fitness coaches: Alessandro Innocenti and Giovanni Brignardello; Team Doctors: Enrico Castellacci and Carmine Costabile; Physiotherapists/Masseurs: Fabrizio Scalzi, Emanuele Randelli, Alfonso Casano and Pasquale Raia.
Italy’s schedule for the matches against France and Israel in September: Sunday 4th September
10:00 Training at the Stadio San Nicola (closed)
15:15 Chartered flight from Bari to Tel Aviv departs
19:05 (18:05 CEST) Chartered flight arrives in Tel Aviv and squad transfer by bus to Haifa (1h 20mins)
20:45 (19:45 CEST) Pitch inspection at the S. Hofer Stadium and press conference with head coach and one player
Followed by transfer to hotel
Monday 5th September
21:45 (20:45 CEST) 2018 WORLD CUP QUALIFYING MATCH: ISRAEL vs. ITALY
Followed by meeting with the press and transfer to hotel
Tuesday 6th September
12:30 (11:30 CEST) Chartered flight leaves Tel Aviv for Milan Malpensa via Rome Fiumincino
*PS: You are kindly reminded that access to the National Training Centre in Coverciano, the Stadio San Nicola in Bari, and the S. Hofer Stadium in Haifa will only be permitted to accredited Media staff who have received accreditation via http://www.accreditations.figc.it before 23rd August 2016 (www.figc.it – Area Media – Info per le Redazioni).