Italy must not panic as they bid to avoid missing a World Cup for the first time in 60 years, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said after a 1-0 play-off first-leg defeat by Sweden pushed them to the brink of disaster.
Italy are FIFA World Cup superstars having won the competition four times - 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006 - played two finals in 1970 and 1994 and finished third in 1990.
Sweden, happy to soak up the pressure, are looking comfortable and have the luxury of sitting in as they hold the first-leg advantage. "I'm fully aware that this game is fundamental for us, but it's the same scenario as when I first signed to lead the national side", he continued.
The strike force of Andre Belotti and Ciro Immobile was very ineffective and midfielder Marco Verratti also failed to generate much play.
Sweden came in second place in the 1958 World Cup.
"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.
"It's a crucial game for us, for the whole country and for the whole history of our national team as well, ' said Buffon".
"We are not stressed, personally I am focused on the game and I hope fans will support us".
"In my career, I already faced moments like this one, sometimes it went good, sometimes it went bad".
The Scandinavians, though, have stolen a march on Ventura's men with that vital victory in Solna and the 17/20 (1.85) quote for Sweden to qualify could well provide punters with a path to profit ahead of Monday's match in Milan. "Italy are a great nation that has nearly always played the World Cup". Ireland take on Denmark in Dublin on Tuesday, with the tie finely poised at 0-0 after the teams' draw in Copenhagen on Saturday.