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08 October 2017, 01:15 | Damon Campbell
Italy's outfield players will don the home kit for the first time against Albania on October 9
Italy's hopes of qualifying directly for next year's World Cup ended on Friday as they produced another lacklustre performance and were jeered off the field after a 1-1 draw at home to eliminated Macedonia.
The result not only means Italy are guaranteed second place behind Spain but the result could have a disastrous impact on their ranking in the draw for November's play-offs.
Italy have 20 points in Group G and their hopes of reaching Russian Federation now rest on finishing as one of the best eight runners-up who progress to the playoff round from the nine European groups.
Italy has 20 points in Group G and is set to finish as one of the best eight runners-up who progress to the playoff round from the nine European groups.
"I thought we defended well and made the most of a counter-attack".
"In football, when you don't do anything in attack for an entire half, it can well be that you concede. We're not talking about Spain or Germany, but they are still a good side". We have a match waiting for us in Albania (tomorrow) before the play-offs and we'll go out there to play. "We must be level-headed in every situation".
Macedonia's positive second-half display was rewarded 13 minutes from time when Trajkovski latched onto Pandev's throughball to fire an unstoppable shot past Buffon into the bottom-left corner.
"The only thing that matters now is getting our energy back, recover a few players and go to achieve what this group deserves, which is a place in the play-offs".
Records just tumble when Gianluigi Buffon is around.
At his pre-match press conference, he said: "Will I resign if we lose to Macedonia?" The fans might well be disappointed but we must have their support at a time of need like this.
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".
Amid the mounting injuries - which included midfielders Claudio Marchisio, Daniele de Rossi, Marco Verratti and Lorenzo Pellegrini, not to mention first-choice striker Andrea Belotti - Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli limped off at the end of the first half with a muscle problem. "It was a bad game, we need a bit more belief in ourselves, but we are all keen to play and give our all. We have to go to Russian Federation".
With Italy at serious risk of missing their first World Cup since 1958, the FIGC will be forced to do some laborious introspection should Italy struggle in their World Cup qualification playoff.
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