Italy take step back under new boss Ventura

Rome, Sept. 2,
(GNA/dpa) – Quickly fixing issues is a must for Giampiero Ventura after
botching his debut at the helm of the Azzurri squad, crashing 3-1 to France in
a friendly late Thursday.

Italy’s need for a
change of pace and better organization was glaring as the Blues stunned them in
Bari, where Ventura had a brilliant coaching stint between 2009 and 2011.

Ventura, a
68-year-old with four decades of coaching experience, replaced the current
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte in July after Italy exited Euro 2016 at the
quarter-finals.

He said he had been
with his players only since Monday and promised improvement in his first
official match at Israel, which opens the 2018 World Cup qualifying race.

“We conceded
two goals (to France) in an avoidable fashion, but it was important to get back
into things and work hard,” Ventura said.

“We did that
at times. Sure, I can’t be satisfied with the result, and the physical
difference was clear on the pitch, but positive results will come with
time.”

Ventura added that
“with the greatest of respect, Israel aren’t France,” but some looked
ahead to a tougher qualifier set for October 6 at home to Spain, who with Italy
are favourites in Group G, also including Albania, Lichtenstein and Macedonia.

In Bari, unexpected
worries for Ventura came in defence package, where veteran Giorgio Chiellini
uncharacteristically displayed poor positioning on two of France’s goals, while
Davide Astori failed to properly fill in for Leonardo Bonucci.

“We shouldn’t
forget the good that we did over these two years and the 50 days we spent
together over the summer (under Conte),” Chiellini said as he admitted to
his lack of concentration.

As he sticks to
Conte’s 3-5-2 format, Ventura seeks speed and order in midfield, with Marco
Verratti, who came in the second half, back from a long layoff and gearing up
for a playmaker role.

Meanwhile, strikers
Graziano Pelle, on target for a short-lived 1-1, and Eder were in tune both at
close range and in wide play.

Pelle then gave way
for the debutant Andrea Belotti, on four goals from three Serie A games, while
defender Daniele Rugani also played his first along with goalkeeper Gianluigi
Donnarumma.

The 17-year-old
from AC Milan is now the youngest goalkeeper ever to play with the Azzurri, and
the second youngest overall at about one year and three months older than
defender Renzo De Vecchi, who debuted in 1910 at 16 years and 3 months.

After a couple of
good saves, Donnarumma was out of position when Layvin Kurzawa fired in from an
impossible angle, allowing France to close the game with nine minutes left.

He should have
little to fear, however, as Ventura said earlier that he is set on rejuvenating
the squad and that youngsters must be given their chance to learn from
mistakes.

GNA

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