F.I.G.C.

Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio

Azzurri gather at Coverciano. Ventura: "The Albania game is crucial"

With Atalanta's Andrea Petagna receiving his first call up following the injuries of both Bernardeschi and Gabbiadini, Gian Piero Ventura's Italy side gathered in Coverciano yesterday as they now continue their qualification process for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. With a total of 10 points, Italy sit joint first with Spain in Group C and will now take on Albania in Palermo on Friday. This game comes just four days before the Azzurri will take on the Netherlands in a friendly scheduled for Tuesday 28 March in Amsterdam.

As for the match in Palermo, Ventura will be hoping to secure his first qualification victory on home turf, having previously overcame Israel, Macedonia and Liechtenstein all away from home, whilst also drawing with Spain in Turin: "The result is extremely important against Albania," said the coach during his press conference on Monday. "We know that it will be a crucial fixture, as it could also influence how we perceive the match in Spain. I am calm because after three months I have came across a group of players who are willing to give me everything."

Fourth in the group and still fully on course for qualification, Albania will be sure to have their fierce support present on Friday. This Albanian passion was on display in Genoa two and half years ago, when the visiting fans sang for the entire 90 minutes during a friendly at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris: "I presume that there will be a lot of them there on Friday," Ventura added. "But the Palermo public have never disappointed before. It is always a very passionate city and I hope they are like this once again on Friday."

Whilst discussing the matter of youth, the tactician also responded to questions regarding the selection of Spinazzola, Petagna and Meret: "I've said for some time that there's a lot of good young players within the national team set-up. To qualify we need some youth, but we also need the experience of some of the older players. Meret's selection is to give a signal of continuity, to demonstrate that those in the Under-21s should be aiming to reach the senior side through their performances."

The experienced coach also claimed that the transfer market does not pose a distraction for those who are honoured to wear the Azzurri shirt: "I cannot think that a player comes here to be distracted. The only thing that worries me is the health of my players. I have lost Florenzi and Bonaventura for the entire season, Gabbiadini after he was called up, I've never had Marchisio and I have also had to do without Barzagli and Verratti at certain points. In this regard the squad should be able to change tactics at different points in a game. The squad should not have just one way of playing, as this would make it too simple."

Ufficializzati arbitro e assistenti di Italia-Albania

Arbitro: Ilavko Vincic (Slovenia)
Assistenti: Tomaz Klancnik (Slovenia) e Andraz Kovacic (Slovenia)
Quarto ufficiale: Matej Jug (Slovenia)
FIFA Match Commissioner: Baiazs Makray (Ungheria)
 

Squad
Goalkeepers
: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), Alex Meret (Spal);
Defenders: Davide Astori (Fiorentina), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter), Mattia De Sciglio (Milan), Alessio Romagnoli (Milan), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Leonardo Spinazzola (Atalanta), Davide Zappacosta (Torino);
Midfielders: Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Roberto Gagliardini (Inter), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint Germain);
Wingers: Antonio Candreva (Inter), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Nicola Sansone (Villarreal);
Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Eder Citadin Martins (Inter), Andrea Petagna (Atalanta), Ciro Immobile (Lazio).

Staff – Coach: Gian Piero Ventura; Team Manager: Gabriele Oriali; Coaches: Salvatore Sullo, Paolo Vanoli and Gianluca Spinelli; Secretary: Mauro Vladovich; Fitness Coaches: Alessandro Innocenti and Giovanni Brignardello; Doctors: Enrico Castellacci and Carmine Costabile; Masseurs: Fabrizio Scalzi, Emanuele Randelli, Alfonso Casano, Pasquale Raia, Walter Martinelli (osteopath).

Schedule

Monday 20 March
h.  13.45  ca  Coach’s press conference
h.  15.30        Training (First 15 minutes open to the media)

Tuesday 21 March
h.  10.30      Training (behind closed doors)
h.  13.30  ca  Meeting with the media (players)
h.  15.30      Training (First 15 minutes open to the media)

Wednesday 22 March
h.  10.30      Training (behind closed doors)
h.  13.30  ca Meeting with the media (players)
h.  15.30      Training (First 15 minutes open to the media)

Thursday 23 March
h.  10.30      Training (First 15 minutes open to the media)
h.   16.00       Departing flight to Palermo from Florence
h.  17.25        Arrive in Palermo and transfer to the stadium
h.  17.45        Walk Around
h.  18.00        Italy press conference(Coach and one player)
h.  18.45        Albania press conference (Coach and one player)
h.  19.30      Albania Training (First 15 minutes open to the media)

Friday 24 March
h.  20.45      QUALIFYING GAME FOR THE 2018 WORLD CUP ITALY-ALBANIA
Meeting the media after the game

Saturday 25 March
h.  11.00        Departing flight for Florence
h.  12.25        Arrive in Florence and transfer to Coverciano
h.  16.00      Training (First 15 minutes open to the media)

Sunday 26 March
h.  10.30      Training (behind closed doors)
h.  13.30 ca   Meeting the media (players)
h.  16.00      Training (First 15 minutes open to the media)

Monday 27 March
h.  10.30      Training (behind closed doors)
h.  16.30        Flight from Florence to Amsterdam
h.  18.50       Arrive in Amsterdam and transfer to stadium
h.  19.15        Walk Around
h.  19.30        Press conference (Coach and one player)

The Netherlands’ team schedule
h 12.15         Training session at the AZ Alkmaar Stadium in Alkmaar (first 15 minutes open to media)
Press conference to follow (Coach and one player)

Tuesday 28 March
h.  20.45    FRIENDLY GAME THE NETHERLANDS-ITALY

After meeting the press, the team will go to the airport and return to Italy

N.B. Media outlets are advised that the accreditation process for Italy vs. Albania (European Qualifier, Palermo, 24th March, 20:45 CEST) and Netherlands vs. Italy (Friendly, Amsterdam, 28th March, 20:45 CEST) will be available from Monday 13th February to 12:00 CEST Monday 13th March 2017. Accreditation is essential if you are to gain access to press conferences, training sessions and the games.