What Gianluigi Buffon did during Sweden's national anthem vs Italy

Roy Hodgson checks up on Jakob Johansson as midfielder gives Sweden World Cup play-off advantage over Italy... while Crystal Palace boss plots January swoop for three players

Sweden and Italy gear up for World Cup playoff clash

Sweden played with a high press on home turf, but with a 1-0 lead to protect, will they be more defensive at San Siro? We should ask ourselves some serious questions about the future of Italian football if we fail to qualify.

But an Azzurri performance in Stockholm branded "ugly and confused" leaves Italy with all to play for in tomorrow morning's second leg in Milan as they bid to avoid missing out on the World Cup Finals for the first time since 1958.

The strike force of Andre Belotti and Ciro Immobile was very ineffective and midfielder Marco Verratti also failed to generate much play.

While Ventura's predecessor Antonio Conte guided Italy to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 - beating Belgium and Spain along the way before going out on penalties to Germany - many felt that the team had overachieved and that the task facing Ventura would be a challenge.

The 39-year-old, who has amassed 10 Serie A titles, three Coppa Italias and the 2006 World Cup along with 173 caps for Italy, recently revealed in an interview that, unless the Bianconeri lift the trophy with the big ears at the end of the 2017/18 campaign, he'll bring the curtain down on his remarkable career. Prior to that, they had only missed the first edition of the event in 1930 in Uruguay, which they did not enter.

"We need to be as clear headed as possible to go to the World Cup", said captain Buffon, who conceded a goal by Swedish substitute Jakob Johansson that was deflected by Daniele de Rossi. "Sweden are a solid side and their behaviour will make little difference, it all depends on us", he said. "Italy are a great nation that has nearly always played the World Cup".

Sweden recorded a memorable victory over Italy on Friday with a one-goal advantage into the second leg at the San Siro!

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