Italy vs Israel - Ventura hoping to get Italy's World Cup qualifying campaign back on track

Posted Tuesday, September 05, 2017 by PA

Italy coach Giampiero Ventura knows he can afford no further setbacks as the Azzurri look to get their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track against Israel on Tuesday.

Ventura was widely criticised for his tactics in Saturday's 3-0 defeat against Spain in Madrid which left his side struggling to consolidate second place in Group G.

But while some have called for Ventura to be axed, others sprung to the defence of the former Torino coach, insisting he merely paid the price for showing ambition against the Spaniards.

Italian managers' association president Renzo Ulivieri told Italian media: "If he risked less he could have lost 1-0, a more honourable defeat.

"But he had to win and he risked things. We saw a good start and a good start to the second half. We had some great opportunities and we have not been lucky."

The result has left the Italians knowing a two-legged play-off is the most likely outcome for their World Cup hopes, but first they must deal with the Israelis in Reggio Emilia.

Israel come into the game in bad shape having suffered their second straight home loss at the weekend in a 1-0 defeat to Macedonia which effectively extinguished their faint hopes of mounting a challenge.

Ventura has problems at the back for the game with Giorgio Chiellini still ruled out with a calf problem while Leonardo Spinazzola is also injured and Leonardo Bonucci is suspended.

It means new Chelsea signing Davide Zappacosta has been called up to bolster the back-line for a game from which Ventura can ill afford not to take all three points.

Manchester United full-back Darmian is one of those determined to erase the memory of Saturday's heavy defeat, which was Italy's first reversal in a major qualifying match since September 2006.

He told Italian media: "It was a defeat against a quality team and we should not panic. There is another important game to prepare for and we have to look ahead."

Arguably the biggest call for Ventura is whether to replace veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon with his inexperienced understudy Gigio Donnarumma for the Israel clash.

Buffon was arguably at fault for two of the Spanish goals and, with Donnarumma having long been seen as his rightful heir, there is increasing clamour for the Milan man to get his chance.

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