Verratti: “I’m at 100%, I just need to rediscover my match fitness”

Following the injury which kept him out of Euro 2016, Italy have welcomed Marco Verratti back into the fold. Ventura put him on for the last 25 minutes of the friendly with France and on Monday he might be counted on Monday as the Azzurri look to get their first points on the road to Russia 2018. “I am happy to be back with the national side,” said the Italy number 10. “I’m at 100 per cent even if I still need to rediscover my match fitness. I want to be part of this new era, I hope it’s a winning era. We have really big objectives and this means that we are a big national side because we aim for the best.”
The route to the World Cup must still be navigated and there are some difficult obstacles to overcome. “We have been put in a difficult group, but if we do what what can then we have a good chance of getting through. On Thursday we put France under difficulty and they are a quality side although they were superior to us in individual moments.”
The Paris Saint Germain midfielder also refused to rule out the possibility of a return to Italy. “Serie A is still one of the best leagues in the world, if I have to leave one day it could be an option.” He also spoke further about his role in the national side. “I often speak with Ventura about my position on the pitch, playmakers are often man-marked and so the coach wants to play me as an attacking midfielder which I’m comfortable with. Compared to before (under Conte), we perhaps look to keep the ball more in order to create space where we can do damage.”
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:
Saturday 3rd September
10:30 Training at the Stadio San Nicola (first 20’ open to press)
followed by meeting with the press
17:00 Training at the Stadio San Nicola (closed)
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
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 before 23rd August 2016 ( – Area Media – Info per le Redazioni).