Ventura demands big improvement

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura knows his side need to improve drastically if they are to make it through to the World Cup.

The Azzurri were held to a 1-1 draw with FYR Macedonia on Friday where Giorgio Chiellini’s 40th minute goal was cancelled out by Aleksandar Trajkovski’s 77th minute effort.

The Azzurri are second in Group G, and with one game to play can only finish behind leaders Spain and head to the Second round where the eight best group runners-up will contest four two-legged (home-and-away) fixtures.

Ventura said after the game: “If we play like we did in the second half 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 we can add a few more players who actually play [at club level], but evidently those are two different situations.

“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 and it was 2-1 to Spain, and in the 95th minute they could’ve equalised. We’re not talking about Spain or Germany, but they are still a good side.”

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