Ventura: “Our attitude against Spain will be fundamental”

A month after the win away in Israel, Italy are back in World Cup qualifying action in Turin where coach Gian Piero Ventura spent much of his career. It’s been three months since the last meeting between the two at Euro 2016’s round of 16 stage where the Azzurri won. Italy are back up against Spain in game which Ventura has described as “delicately poised, important but not decisive.” It’s not the same Italy nor the same Spain side from last time out as both have new coaches at the helm. “There’s joy at coming back to Turin, it’s been an important place in my life,” said Ventura. “It’s a pleasure to play in this stadium, whenever I’ve been here the home team has won and this time I’m on the home side. I get the sense that there’s been a big tactical change at Spain from seeing their recent games, without even looking at their technical ability. Our attitude on the pitch tomorrow will be fundamental.”

The coach confirmed that it will be the usual formation before going on to speak about a likely debut for Alessio Romagnoli. “If he plays, he will have a chance to show the progress he has made. Many years ago, people said I was making a gamble when I gave Bonucci and Ranocchia debuts at Bari and I get the same sense now with him. I hope that the result is the same. I have only had two and a half days to prepare for this match but the professional and moral quality of this group has made up for that time constraint.”

Italy vs. Spain is also being held at Antonio Conte’s old stadium: “The comparisons with the past would be made in any case, I’m interested in how we play, with how fired up we are, how hungry we are and how determined we are. It’s true that this game is an important World Cup qualifier but we don’t need to get carried away as qualification won’t be decided tomorrow. We’ll enter the pitch wanting to win and what happens on the pitch will say whether we can. Running isn’t enough on its own to beat Spain, rather we have to run well. To be at 60 per cent against this opponent won’t be good enough.”

The Azzurri boss feels that his side are in better condition at this point in the season. “Physically, we’re better than two months ago. The players have six or seven games under their belts and this is a big step forward compared to the France and Israel games.”

Gianluigi Buffon was also at the press conference to give his thoughts. “It’s a big game even if we’re a year and a half away from the World Cup, it still means a lot,” said the goalkeeper. “Spain will be a wounded beast and they’ve started their new era well. The win two months ago can’t mislead us. We must keep our feet on the ground with a good dose of humility and remember how we were able to win that game.”

The following ingredients will be vital against Spain according to Buffon: “A good dose of courage, a great desire to fight and suffer because this is also how you bring a game home. If our memories of the win at the Euros lead to us going out there with arrogance and presumptions, then that would be the worst mistake we could make. The same goes for me, as the captain I have to know that tomorrow is an important qualifier and we have to be calm but also intense because the game at the Euros is behind us, now there’s nothing else to do other than build a good present and an excellent future.”


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