Italy coach Giampiero Ventura defends his tactics after 3-0 loss to Spain
Italy coach Giampiero Ventura said he would be criticised regardless of his tactical decisions after the Azzurri's World Cup hopes took a hit with a 3-0 defeat to Spain in Madrid on Saturday.
Italy were overrun by Spain's movement across midfield and through the channels as Real Madrid midfielder Isco scored twice on his home ground, clipping home a 13th-minute free kick before doubling Spain's lead with a low strike just before half-time.
While Italy -- who had not lost a qualifying tie for a major championships since September 2006, a run of more than 50 games -- improved for the second half, they could not find a way back into the match.
Ventura decided against packing the midfield in front of a back three, but the ambitious 4-2-4 formation could not cope with the Spanish. Nevertheless, Ventura remained defiant.
"This match allows us to test things out, as we want to go to the World Cup and that is the objective. If one match cancels out all the good work done so far, then I may as well give up now," he said.
"If we had won here and lost against Israel on Tuesday, we would have gone to the playoffs anyway.
"I realised yesterday that I'd get criticised whatever I did. People were saying I'd play 3-5-2 and blasting me for not using [Lorenzo] Insigne. I realised then there is absolutely no balance in the feedback you get from social media."
Ventura added in a press conference: "If a loss to Spain, one of the best teams in the world, is enough to ruin your confidence, it means you are not a team.
"In our last few games, we had scored 26 goals and conceded one, so we were doing well. We can't just cancel out everything that came before.
"It's only right there is criticism, but that's not how we see it from the inside. We knew full well this was difficult.
"But these are also matches to help us grow, because there's no point going to the World Cup if we crash out after three games.
"Our objective is to get there, but not everyone has played five Champions League finals -- experience has to be earned."
Spain coach Julen Lopetegui opted to deploy Manchester City midfielder David Silva in the false nine role, with Chelsea's £60 million forward Alvaro Morata and recalled veteran striker David Villa left on the bench.
It proved, though, a positive tactic as Real Madrid midfielder Isco scored twice on his home ground, clipping home a 13th-minute free kick before doubling Spain's lead with a low strike just before half-time.
Morata came off the bench to tap in a third with 13 minutes left following a driving run down the right and cross through the six-yard box by captain Sergio Ramos, which summed up the collective efforts of La Roja.
"I've always been very sure of the players. It was a hard-worked victory. I am very happy for the level shown against a great team like Italy," Lopetegui said after the game. "The evaluations in football depend on the result, and we have able to adapt to every moment.
"Italy are a very complicated team, but we have been able to match them. Our performance was very high."
Spain's win left them three points clear of Italy at the top of Group G, with Albania seven points back in third place.
With qualifiers against Liechtenstein, Albania and Israel to come, the 2010 World Cup winners are overwhelming favourites now to finish in first place -- but Lopetegui is taking it one step at a time.
He added: "These are three important points, but not definitive.
"We've a long way to go. What's left ahead of us is the most complicated part, which is finishing things off. We have three games left and we have to win them to achieve [first place]."