World Cup qualifier match report Italy v Sweden 13 November 2017

Sweden and Italy gear up for World Cup playoff clash

Sweden and Italy gear up for World Cup playoff clash

Italy went down to a 1-0 defeat in the first leg in Stockholm on Friday, and must overturn that deficit tonight at San Siro in Milan to avoid missing their first World Cup in 60 years.

The 39-year-old Buffon - bidding to reach a record sixth World Cup Finals in Russian Federation - is one of the last survivors of Italy's golden generation of 2006 World Cup winners.

Ahead of the crucial World Cup play-off against Sweden, the boos rang out at the San Siro once the opposition's national anthem was played.

But despite laying siege to the Scandinavian defence over 90 feverish minutes, Italy could not make the breakthrough and the goalless draw was enough for Sweden to reach Russian Federation 2018.

Italy looked the stronger side, and had plenty of chances - 11 shots on goal to Sweden's one in the first half - but could not convert any.

The rot started long before Ventura took charge.

Italy had played in every edition of the World Cup since 1962 and has won four titles (1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006).

For a long time, Italy has lacked a creative force.

Mario Balotelli was the star of Euro 2012 but fell out of favor after Italy's woeful showing at the last World Cup, and hasn't been called up by Ventura, while Conte selected him in only one squad.

Juventus has been a force to be reckoned with in recent years in Europe, where it has reached two out of the past three Champions League finals.

The increasingly execrated Ventura yielded to the incessant calls to use Napoli pass-master Jorginho in midfielder by handing the Brazil-born player a first competitive Italy cap.

The play was nearly entirely focused on Sweden's back half in the final minutes. "We invite them to support us, but realize the time has come for us to show them what we've got".

Manolo Gabbiadini got the nod - perhaps surprisingly ahead of Lorenzo Insigne - to lead the line alongside Lazio striker Ciro Immobile.

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