Macedonia striker Goran Pandev: Italy just went through motions

08 October, 2017, 01:15 | Author: Irene Delgado
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Italy can guarantee themselves second place in Group G and a berth in the qualification play-offs for the 2018 FIFA World Cup by earning just a point at home to Macedonia on Friday.

The win allowed Spain to move five points clear in Group G above Italy, who are now assured of finishing second, while Albania's slim hopes were extinguished. However, it needs a point against Albania on Monday to ensure it finishes as one of the best eight runners-up from the nine groups.

"We lacked that conviction and confidence that you always need on the pitch because that gives you the certainty in your movements".

"If Italy play like we did in the second half with Macedonia, we'll struggle in the play-offs", said Italy's coach. I had moments that were positive and negative, like all coaches.

Goalscorer Giorgio Chiellini has urged Italy fans to remain behind their nation as the Azzurri head into the uncertainty of the World Cup qualifying playoffs. "We're not talking about Spain or Germany, but they are still a good side".

"I think the praise was exaggerated before and the criticism is exaggerated now". We have a match waiting for us in Albania (tomorrow) before the play-offs and we'll go out there to play.

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GIANPIERO VENTURA, Italy national coach, on their poor second-half performance against Macedonia.

Italy failed to click after halftime and were given a first warning when Gianluigi Buffon had to smother a header from Ilija Nestorovski.

"Players like me who have been here for 20 years need to find a way to drag the other boys forward so we can give Italy the best chance of getting to the World Cup".

On the whistles he faced as the tide turned against Italy in Turin, Ventura added: "Italy should never be whistled, the team represents all of us".

The setback against 103rd-ranked Macedonia could also have a negative impact on Italy's world ranking - now 17th - as they bid to ensure a favourable seeding for the play-off draw next month.

"That made a big difference and when that drops, the sharpness goes", he said.

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