Could it be the end of an era for Buffon?

Ross Houston
November 13, 2017

"I'm fully aware that this game is fundamental for us, but it's the same scenario as when I first signed to lead the national side", he continued.

The team will be without Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti.

Italy need to overturn a 1-0 playoff first-leg defeat against Sweden at the San Siro on Monday, if they want to avoid a potential national humiliation likened to the "apocalypse" by supporters.

Italy have not failed to reach the World Cup finals since 1958 and the Azzurri's current crop will be desperate to ensure that they are not responsible for that remarkable run of successful qualification campaigns coming to an abrupt end.

While Ventura's predecessor Antonio Conte guided Italy to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 - beating Belgium and Spain along the way before going out on penalties to Germany - many felt that the team had overachieved and that the task facing Ventura would be a challenge.

Sweden came in second place in the 1958 World Cup.

The overall sentiment was that a World Cup without Italy would not be the same.

"We know that keeping a clean sheet will take us to the World Cup, so that is our intention".

"We can make no mistakes, we are focusing on what we must do to win but if we fail to qualify everybody should take the blame", the 39-year-old Juventus player said at the pre-match press conference.

"It is an important game for the history of our national team".

He added: "We want to send Italians a message not with words, but with action on the pitch".

The Scandinavians, though, have stolen a march on Ventura's men with that vital victory in Solna and the 17/20 (1.85) quote for Sweden to qualify could well provide punters with a path to profit ahead of Monday's match in Milan. "It would be a great satisfaction to qualify for the World Cup".

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