Ventura: “Positive results will come,” Donnarumma: “I’m delighted to have made my debut”

Gian Piero Ventura was applauded by a stadium and a city that he is close to for his debut on the Italy bench. Even if France won in ‘his’ Bari, Italy showed that they are still settling in as the group only trained together  for the first time 48 hours earlier with many squad members carrying over from the Euro 2016 squad. “I’m satisfied, because we couldn’t have expected much more after three days of work,” said the new coach after Kuipers blew the final whistle. We conceded two goals in an avoidable fashion but it was important tonight to get back into things and work hard. We did that at times. Sure, I can’t be satisfied with the result and the physical difference was clear on the pitch but positive results will come with time.”

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In just four days, the new coach will make his competitive debut with three points on the line in Haifa for qualification to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. “With the greatest of respect, Israel aren’t France. We will analyse today’s match, we’ll see some errors that we can avoid and I’m sure we’ll put in a better performance.”

Despite the result, it was an unforgettable experience for Gianluigi Donnarumma who came on for Buffon at the break and he became the youngest-ever Italy goalkeeper at  17-years-and-six months old. “It was an indescribable experience for me, I thank Ventura for this opportunity. Buffon told me at the break to stay calm and enjoy myself.”

With the clarity of mind and honesty that distinguish him, Giorgio Chiellini admitted that he could have done better. “We shouldn’t forget the good that we did over these two years and the 50 days we spent together over the summer. Ventura has made an excellent impression on us and he’s had a great impact on the squad. We know that there’s work to be done and we have to be more careful on Monday. Away matches in the group are very important and this will be one of the most difficult, we will approach it with care and solidity. It will be important to leave with a win.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino was in the stands to see the first test for the VAR (Video Assistant Referees) system. “Football history was made here today,” he said. “For the first time, a replay was used on the pitch. We will experiment, you can’t solve every problem but we want to help referees in key situations. The debut was here because Italy were very enthusiastic and in favour of new technology.”