Football Italy boss Ventura ready for Romagnoli gamble

With Giorgio Chiellini banned, Giampiero Ventura is ready to start Alessio Romagnoli when Italy aim for a second win in two against Spain.

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Italy head coach Giampiero Ventura is willing to embrace the "gamble" of starting Alessio Romagnoli against Spain on Thursday.

The 2010 world champions face the Azzurri at Juventus Stadium in their second qualifying match for the World Cup finals in Russia.

Italy triumphed 2-0 when the sides met in the last 16 at Euro 2016, but experienced defender Giorgio Chiellini - who scored the opener on that day in Paris - is suspended for Thursday's encounter.

Romagnoli, 21, missed AC Milan's dramatic 4-3 Serie A win over Sassuolo on Sunday with a minor injury complaint, but Ventura is prepared to hand him his senior Italy debut from the start in Turin.

"If Romagnoli plays, it will be just one small step towards the future," he said on Wednesday. "He's a young player with great potential. If he plays, it'll be his chance to prove what he can do.

"It's a gamble, but I hope it's an important start."

Ventura does not believe victory over Spain will be essential to their chances of qualifying for the 2018 finals, though he wants Italy to play with real determination.

"I think Spain have shown some tactical progress in recent games," he said. 

"It really depends on what kind of performance we put in, with what determination we have. It's a World Cup qualifier and it all builds to what we want to achieve in a year and a half.

"It will not be hugely decisive. We have to play to win if possible.

"In terms of fitness, 60 per cent is not enough to face this Spain. You cause them problems when you are positive, when you read the game and understand the approach they use."

Ventura failed to secure an away derby win over Juventus during his five-year spell as head coach of Torino, but he hopes to see fortune favour the home side once more when he steps back into the dugout at the home of the Serie A champions.

"Being in Turin is emotional for me because I spent a large part of my life here," he added. "The important thing to remember is that the home side always won at Juventus Stadium!"

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