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Blood and guts not enough for Italy

Friday, November 10, 2017

MILAN - Italy midfield Daniele De Rossi thinks the old cliches about giving 110 percent and asking for the backing of the supporters did not apply to their World Cup qualifying playoff against Sweden.

Admitting that failure to qualify would be a black mark on his career, the 34-year-old said blood and guts would not be enough to ensure Italy maintain their record of being at every World Cup since 1962.

Italy face a two-leg playoff against Sweden after finishing second behind Spain in their group and their poor recent form has left the public and media looking ahead to the tie with a sense of trepidation.

"These are two games where we cannot make mistakes," De Rossi, a World Cup winner in 2006, told reporters on Wednesday.

"The stakes are so high that, while it is all very well to talk about blood and guts and giving everything until the end, we also require lucidity, organisation, technique and running."

"If it were just about treating the match like a battle, anyone could play in Serie A and the national team. We need to play an intelligent game and add in some concentration and experience.

"To ask for faith from the fans would be inappropriate right now, it's not the right time. We have to win this game."

De Rossi, who has won 116 caps for Italy and played at the last three World Cups, said the idea of not qualifying had not crossed his mind.

"If it happened, it would be a stain on my career," he said.

"Personally, it would be wonderful to get to my fourth World Cup, even though I don't know if I will play a big part. The World Cup is a something that nobody wants to miss."

The first leg is on Friday in Stockholm.

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