Vastavam web: A bruised Italy will look to turn the page on a morale-sapping World Cup qualifying defeat to Spain when they host Israel in Reggio Emilia tomorrow.The Azzurri need three points to consolidate second place in Group G behind Spain and stay safely clear of third-placed Albania as they look to make it to the finals in Russia next year.Tuesday’s challenge against Israel at the Mapei Stadium in northern Italy has now become all the more important as the four-time world champions look to regain confidence with a two-legged play-off now looking increasingly likely if they are to reach the World Cup.
“A bad defeat which will help us grow now grit and determination for Tuesday,” said midfielder Antonio Candreva.Giorgio Chiellini is still out with a calf problem along with Leonardo Bonucci, who picked up a booking on Saturday, and Leonardo Spinazzola, injured in the last few minutes in Spain.New Chelsea recruit Davide Zappacosta was hastily called up to training in Florence on Sunday as Ventura looks to pull together a makeshift defence.Juventus duo Andrea Barzagli and Daniele Rugani could start together in central defence with Andrea Conti on the right and Manchester United’s Matteo Darmian moved to the opposite side.”It was a defeat against a side with great quality. We did some good things, others bad, it mustn’t wipe out the good work done up until now,” Darmian said after the defeat.
“We go home with quite a heavy defeat, but we look forward.”The defeat was Italy’s first loss in either World Cup or European Championship qualifying since September 2006, a run of 56 matches.Italy now need Spain to lose one of their remaining qualifying games against Liechtenstein, Albania and Israel to have any hope of avoiding a two-legged play-off.Italy were handed a boost ahead of the Israel match, however, with news that their captain Eran Zahavi had suddenly decided to end his international career after being angered by booing from the home crowd.
Zahavi was left fuming on Saturday by fans in Haifa who started booing when Macedonia scored the only goal of a shock victory in a World Cup qualifier.In response, Zahavi threw his captain’s armband to the ground, prompting Israel’s federation to suspend him for an undetermined period.”We are in a country that doesn’t know how to honour its great athletes, so I prefer to leave. It’s unbelievable that the fans boo their team. That doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world.