Daniele De Rossi happy not to face Ibrahimovic in their World Cup qualifying play-off

By: Aveek Chakraborty
Italy's Daniele De Rossi and Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic battle for the ball.

London, Nov 10: Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi expressed a sigh of relief ahead of their World Cup qualifying play-off match against Sweden claiming that it is a blessing that his team won't have to face Superstars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the game.

Italy will go to Sweden for the first leg on Friday night in Stockholm with the second leg in Milan's San Siro on Monday.

But the Azzurri's won't have to face Manchester United striker Ibrahimovic, who is as of now recuperating from knee damage as he resigned from international duty after Euro 2016 and Italy veteran De Rossi claimed that the former swedesih forward's nonattendance makes them far less considerable.

"I'd never want Ibra against me, not even at 40 years and with a broken leg," said De Rossi. "The fact that there's no Ibrahimovic is an advantage for anyone who has to face them.

"It's not that the rest of them are unknown to us though, we know them because some of them play in Italy and others play in important European leagues."

Italy will go into the game as a favourite to advance however De Rossi suggested there will be a huge amount of pressure on Gian Piero Ventura's side who have not miss the World Cup in 50 years and their inability to qualify would be a dark day on his career.

The 34-year-old Roma midfielder who is one of just two players in the Azzurri side who will go to Stockholm having effectively earned more than 100 tops also conceded that blood and guts would not be enough to ensure Italy maintain their World Cup qualifying record hopes he and his team-mates can keep their nerve natural.

"We're strong, maybe better than Sweden, but there's a little bit of fear that 'right, we have to deliver'," said De Rossi.

"If the World Cup is important for me when I've already played three, let's think how important it is for those who have never been there.

"What's at stake is so important that the concept of 'blood and sweat' is the right one, we'll give everything but we'll also need composure, organisation, technique and we have to run."

Story first published: Friday, November 10, 2017, 13:29 [IST]
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