World Cup Qualifier, Italy v Sweden

FOUR-TIME champions Italy face missing out on the World Cup for the first time since 1958, a potential national humiliation likened to the “apocalypse” by the team’s fanatical supporters.

Italy need to overturn a 1-0 play-off first-leg defeat against Sweden at the San Siro on Monday.

National coach Gian Piero Ventura insists his team will not falter but the 69-year-old gave his critics more ammunition in the build-up to the game by claiming he was “amazed people are surprised we’re in the play-offs”.

“We knew from the moment we picked Spain in the group phase that we’d be heading for the play-offs. Nobody can be surprised we reached this point.

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