Ventura drops Pelle for Skopje tie

Graziano Pelle cut an ineffective figure for much of his 60 minutes on the pitch and refused to shake the coach's hand when replaced. Though he apologised on social media, the damage was done and he will play no part in Italy's next World Cup qualifi
Graziano Pelle cut an ineffective figure for much of his 60 minutes on the pitch and refused to shake the coach's hand when replaced. Though he apologised on social media, the damage was done and he will play no part in Italy's next World Cup qualifier against Macedonia.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Italy forward pays price for snubbing coach after being replaced in 1-1 draw with Spain

TURIN • Italy coach Giampiero Ventura has axed Graziano Pelle for this weekend's World Cup qualifier against Macedonia, accusing the striker of "disrespect".

The Shandong Luneng forward paid the price for failing to shake his coach's hand when he was substituted in Thursday's 1-1 draw against Spain.

"Manager Giampero Ventura, in agreement with the (Italian federation) FIGC, has decided to exclude Graziano Pelle from the squad for the Macedonia match because of his disrespectful behaviour when he was replaced," a federation statement read.

"To be part of the national team implies the sharing of common values and behaviour conforming to the wearing of the blue shirt, beginning with respect towards the management, players and fans."

Pelle, an Italy regular for the past year, was dropped after an hour following an ineffective display in Turin and replaced by Ciro Immobile. He walked off the pitch, ignoring Ventura's outstretched hand, and was punished despite offering an apology on social media.

"So once again I've done something stupid. I behaved unacceptably towards the boss (Ventura) and to my team-mates, " he posted on Instagram. "I take responsibility for what's happened. It's my duty to say I'm sorry."

RESPECT PARAMOUNT

To be part of the national team implies the sharing of common values and behaviour conforming to the wearing of the blue shirt, beginning with respect towards the management, players and fans.

FIGC, on why Graziano Pelle was axed from the Italy squad to face Macedonia.

Thursday's stalemate, where the Azzurri were outclassed, left Italy third in Group G ahead of Sunday's game against Macedonia in Skopje.

Ventura admitted that there is work to do, after Italy grabbed a lucky point following Roma midfielder Daniele de Rossi's leveller from the spot eight minutes from time.

Sevilla forward Vitolo had given Spain a 55th-minute lead after pouncing on a rare blunder from goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Juventus Stadium was silenced for long periods as Spain's "tiki-taka" game baffled the hosts, and Ventura, who replaced Antonio Conte earlier this summer, admitted: "In some areas of the pitch, we have little problems to sort out. We need a different kind of approach to try and mask these problems.

"It was a game of two halves and the changes we made after the restart meant we had a much better second half.

"Spain were superior but it's equally true their goal was a fluke. Apart from their goal, Buffon hardly had a save to make. But we should learn a lot from this game."

Italy were outclassed throughout the opening half in which Spain enjoyed 77 per cent possession.

After Ventura replaced the ineffective Pelle with Immobile, the impact was almost immediate. Immobile injected a much-needed dose of pace and creativity into the wilting attack.

Italy equalised in the 82nd minute when Eder was fouled by Sergio Ramos in the box.

The home side's claims for a penalty were initially waved away by referee Felix Brych, but, after consultation with his assistant referee, the German pointed to the spot and de Rossi stepped up to send David de Gea the wrong way.

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui admitted the result left a bitter-sweet taste. But the former Porto handler was rightly buoyed at taking a precious away point from Italy, several months ahead of preparing for the return meeting.

Only the group winners qualify automatically for the Finals in Russia. Spain and Italy, both on four points, are expected to battle for the top spot in Group G, which also includes Albania, Israel, Macedonia and Liechtenstein. Albania, who host Spain tomorrow, are top with two wins in as many games after beating Liechtenstein 2-0 away.

"The glass is both half-full and half-empty," Lopetegui said. "We gave a good account of ourselves against a strong side. We showed our character and our ambition."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2016, with the headline 'Ventura drops Pelle for Skopje tie'. Print Edition | Subscribe