Italy coach Giampiero Ventura blasted his side’s second-half performance in Friday’s 1-1 draw with Macedonia, conceding that they could struggle in the World Cup play-offs if they do not improve.
Spain secured their progression to Russia as Group G winners on Friday, meaning Italy will have to settle for a place in the second round of qualifying.
Although Italy will likely be considered among the favourites in the play-offs, Ventura is demanding that they perform better after a disappointing showing against Macedonia.
Giorgio Chiellini gave them the lead just before the break, but a late equaliser saw Italy slump to a poor result and Ventura was alarmed by their performance in the second period, even if he stressed that Macedonia are better than people give them credit for.
He told reporters: “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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