TalkSPORT 2 World Cup play-off coverage on November 13, 2017


TalkSPORT 2 World Cup play-off coverage on November 13, 2017

The Azzurri suffered a 1-0 first-leg defeat and are under pressure to turn around the tie, in what could be Gianluigi Buffon's final competitive fixture for the national team. We should ask ourselves some serious questions about the future of Italian football if we fail to qualify.

The first is that the four-time world champions fail to qualify for Russian Federation 2018 and a curtain falls on the global careers of half the team, including Daniele De Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and the icon that is Gianluigi Buffon.

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

Jakob Johansson scored the only goal of the game in Friday's first-leg in Solna to give Sweden something to protect in the return leg against Giampiero Ventura's men - and the stage is set for a dramatic showdown.

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. The team has been out of World Cup only twice - in 1930, the first-ever World Cup when they did not enter, and in 1958. They last faced a play-off for World Cup qualification 20 years ago, when they narrowly overcame Russian Federation 1-0 on aggregate. "We, on the other hand, have nothing to lose and will put in a strong performance, just as we did in Stockholm", said the defender in his Press conference.

"It's a crucial game for us, for the whole country and for the whole history of our national team as well, ' said Buffon. There are another 90 minutes and we want to make the most of it". My situation is not important at the moment.

The winners of the Italy-Sweden tie will join Switzerland and Croatia as qualifying for Russian Federation 2018 via the European play-offs.