Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi has admitted he is glad Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be missing for the upcoming World Cup qualifying play-off against Sweden.
De Rossi has not shied away from expressing his relief that Italy will not be faced with the daunting prospect of keeping out Ibrahimovic.
“The fact there there’s no Ibrahimovic is an advantage for anyone who has to face them,” De Rossi said, quoted by Football Italia.
“Even at 40 with a broken leg I’d never want Ibra against me. It could be an advantage, it’s certainly better that he’s not there.
“It’s not that the rest of them are strangers though, we know them because some of them play in Italy and others play in important European leagues. They’re no mugs.
“If the World Cup is important for me, when I’ve already played three, let’s think how important it is for those who have never been there.
“Going to the World Cup is everything. San Siro will be sold out, so it’ll be a great stage and we’ll have to prove we belong there and stand up to it.
“To ask for faith from the fans would be inappropriate right now, it’s not the right time. We have to win this game.
“We’re strong, maybe better than Sweden, but there’s a little bit of fear that right now is almost necessary.
“Football is a lot more open now, the great players aren’t just in the big European countries, or Brazil and Argentina. There’s a lot of confidence in the dressing room though.”