Buffon: Italy in “high tension” ahead of vital qualifier versus Sweden

Italy’s veteran goalkeeper and captain, Gianluigi Buffon, said the team were in a state of “high tension” ahead of his team’s second leg match against Sweden in the World Cup qualifying playoffs.

Italy lost their first leg against the Swedes by 1-0, and will will fail to reach a World Cup for the first time since 1958 if they do not win the second at San Siro.

“We can make no mistakes,” Buffon said ahead of the vital game. “We are focusing on what we must do to win but if we fail to qualify everybody should take the blame. We are not stressed, personally I am focused on the game and I hope fans will support us. Sweden are a solid side and their behaviour will make little difference, it all depends on us.”

“We know we can win this game, we dream to qualify for the World Cup, it’s an important game for us and for the history of the national team.”

“I’ve already faced similar situations in my career, sometimes I’ve succeeded, some other times I’ve failed. The game means a lot for all of us, not only for me. My situation is not important at the moment. It would be a great satisfaction to qualify for the World Cup.”

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura, who came under fire for the Azzurri’s results in the qualifier playoff and the group stages, said his team would try to qualify for the World Cup in Russia by “playing football” after their ill-tempered play-off first leg against Sweden.

Ventura’s tactics and team selection have been the subject of heavy criticism after he dropped his preferred 4-2-4 formation for a 3-5-2 in Friday’s match.

While his side also complained of rough play by Sweden in the first leg — including a challenge which left defender Leonardo Bonucci with a broken nose — Sweden were also said to be unhappy at their rivals’ alleged gamesmanship.

Bonucci will be forced to wear a face mask in the second leg.

“We are Italy and, if we qualify, I would like to be able to say that we did it by playing football,” Ventura said. “I don’t know what sort of game it will be but I hope it will be played in the correct spirit.”

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