Italy finish second place in Group G after Macedonia draw

Italy finish second place in Group G after Macedonia draw

Italy finish second place in Group G after Macedonia draw

Italy face Macedonia in Turin later on Friday needing a point to secure a place in the World Cup qualification playoffs.

Spain secured their progression to Russian Federation as Group G winners on Friday, meaning Italy will have to settle for a place in the second round of qualifying, with Ireland similarly aiming for a play-off position as one of the best runners-ups in European qualification.

They have already booked themselves a place in the play-offs with seven points separating them and Albania in third in Group G, meanwhile trailing first-placed Spain by five points.

"At this point we need a psychological turning point".

A mutual lapse in discipline marred the second half, with three players booked needlessly, and Italy were unable to build momentum in their pursuit of another goal.

"The result is not positive, it is not what we wanted, nor what we expected", said the former Torino coach.

"Losing in Madrid [3-0 to Spain last month] might have dampened our spirits but we can't just give up".

The Azzurri, captained by Gianluigi Buffon wearing their traditional blue shirt on his 172nd global appearance, looked sharp in the early stages and should have been ahead inside eight minutes.

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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".

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

In the last five games, Italy has won four matches and lost one match whereas Macedonia has won two matches, lost one match and the other two matches ended in a draw.

"We have young players who are growing and hope to do even better in future".

"I went off to avoid taking any risks", said the 36-year-old.

Failing to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958 would certainly bring a swift end to his tenure.

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.

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