Italy coach Giampiero Ventura has confirmed Marco Verratti will play in his team’s World Cup qualifier against Macedonia on Sunday.
Verratti was not fit enough to feature in the 1-1 draw against Spain in Turin on Thursday, but after Riccardo Montolivo suffered a serious knee injury in that match, the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder will get a chance to impress.
Daniele De Rossi scored Italy’s goal against Spain from the penalty spot and Ventura hinted the Roma midfielder could be paired with Verratti.
“Verratti is a treasure of Italian football,” Ventura told reporters in a press conference on Saturday. “If there are no nasty surprises overnight, then he will play tomorrow. He wasn’t in the right condition to play against Spain.
“I am very satisfied with De Rossi’s performance against Spain and I don’t regret picking him. Could they play together? They are very different figures, but never say never. De Rossi and Verratti have different attributes. We’ll rotate some players.
“Macedonia won’t be easy. They’ve lost two games but were unlucky. It will be an important and I feel also a decisive match for us in this qualifying campaign.
“We can count on a lot of young players to be part of this group but it takes time.”
Gianluigi Buffon was at fault for Spain’s goal, misjudging a throughball to allow Vitolo a simple finish, and the goalkeeper said Italy are rebuilding under Ventura.
“We’re building a new identity under Ventura,” the Juventus stopper said. “We’ll go again from the last 20 minutes of the Spain match.
“It’s motivating to help the youngsters in the squad. But my main goal is to do my job as a goalkeeper.
“Macedonia are a good and experienced side. We can’t underestimate them.”
Ventura sent Graziano Pelle home from international duty after the striker refused to shake his hand after being substituted against Spain and the coach condemned the player’s reaction.
“I believe that there was a lack of respect not just to me but to the group,” said Ventura. “It wasn’t acceptable.
“The aim is to improve in every aspect game by game, not only in terms of attitude.”