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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Buffon demands Italy take 'responsibility' after shock draw with Macedonia puts 2018 World Cup play-off place in jeopardy

Italy manager Ventura said he would not be confident of their chances in the playoffs if they continue to play the way they did on Friday.

Gianluigi Buffon in action during Italy's 2018 World Cup qualifying draw against Macedonia on Friday. Valerio Pennicino / Getty Images
Gianluigi Buffon in action during Italy's 2018 World Cup qualifying draw against Macedonia on Friday. Valerio Pennicino / Getty Images

Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon believes last month's defeat to Spain has had a lingering effect and demanded his teammates take "responsibility" as the four-time World Cup winners were held to a shock draw by Macedonia on Friday night.

Aleksandar Trajkovski cancelled out Giorgio Chiellini's first half goal as Italy left the Olimpico di Torino pitch to boos and jeers from the home support.

Spain have qualified top of Group G after thrashing Albania 3-0 to book their place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Italy sit in second but are still not mathematically sure of even being one of the top eight runners-up to make the play-offs.

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Buffon, Italy's most capped player, has said his team need to get out of their slump as quickly as possible if they are to avoid a first World Cup play-off since 1997.

"I think that the Spain defeat affected our confidence and it still left a mark on this match," Buffon, 39, said referring to September's 3-0 defeat in Madrid.

"Maybe we thought that we're better than we are, even if a 1-0 win wouldn't have changed anything and a draw just extends a cycle that we need to get out of fast through pride, determination and a sense of responsibility.

"At this point we need a psychological turning point."

The setback against 103rd-ranked Macedonia could also have a negative impact on Italy's world ranking - currently 17th - as they bid to ensure a favourable seeding for the play-off draw next month.

However, Italy manager Gian Piero Ventura has warned that if his team continue to play the way they did against Macedonia then they might even fail to reach Russia.

"If Italy play like we did in the second half with Macedonia, we'll struggle in the play-offs," Ventura said.

"The result is not positive, it is not what we wanted, nor what we expected," said the former Torino coach.

Screenshot from Fifa.com
Screenshot from Fifa.com

"I think the whistles were deserved, even if I think you should never jeer the national side as a point of principle.

"We need to get the crowd on our side because they can help us. We have a match waiting for us in Albania (on Monday) before the play-offs and we'll go out there to play.

"The only thing that matters now is getting our energy back, recover a few players and go to achieve what this group deserves, which is a place in the play-offs."