It’s put up or shut up time now, folks.
Italy has no other option.
Because of their 1-0 loss in Sweden four days ago, Italy now has to hope that they can beat the Swedes by two goals in hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They have 90 minutes to do so at the San Siro, which Gigi Buffon hopes is filled with Italian pride rather than folks divided because of what club they root for.
The thing is, though, it’s not like the Azzurri have been inspiring a whole hell of a lot of us and have us brimming with confidence at the moment.
Gian Piero Ventura, well, he hasn’t exactly had the best of times as of late. He has Italy playing poorly, playing without much energy and not doing much of anything in the attacking third of the field.
Now, in a must-win game where they need to score more than just goal, everything that Italy did wrong in Sweden will have to be fixed. And fast.
Can Ventura set them up to win?
Can they get things done without a player like Marco Verratti in the lineup?
Can somebody like Ciro Immobile play like the striker who has been scoring goals galore in Serie A this season but struggled to do much of anything against Sweden?
These are just some of the many questions a lot of us have going into tonight’s second leg at the San Siro.
How many will actually get answered over the next couple of hours remain to be seen.
What we do know is that Buffon and the rest of Italy’s player know what they have to do if they want to spend a part of their summer in Russia.
Let’s see if they can get the thing done...
Location: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy
Kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy; 7:45 p.m. in England; 2:45 p.m. on the East Coast; 11:45 a.m. on the West Coast
Italy starting XI: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Candreva, Florenzi, Jorginho, Parolo, Darmian; Immobile, Gabbiadini
Italy bench: Donnarumma, Perin, Rugani, Astori, Zappacosta, Gagliardini, De Rossi, Bernardeschi, Insigne, Belotti, Eder, El Shaarawy
Sweden starting XI: Olsen; Lustig, Lindelof, Granqvist, Augustinsson; Claesson, Larsson, Johansson, Forsberg; Toivonen, Berg
Sweden bench: Johnsson, Nordfeldt, Krafth, Olsson, Guidetti, Helander, Svensson, Jansson, Rohden, Thelin, Sema
TV: Fox Sports 1 USA, FOX Deportes (United States); Sportsnet World, Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Ontario, Sportsnet West (Canada); Sky Sports Football, Sky Sports Main Event, NOW TV UK (United Kingdom); RAI Uno (Italy)
Online/Mobile: FOX Soccer Match Pass, FOX Sports GO, fuboTV (United States); Sportsnet Now, Sportsnet World Now (Canada); Sky Go UK (United Kingdom)
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