Italy have a World Cup play-off with Sweden to get through, but their head coach Gian Piero Ventura is already thinking about a prospective group at Russia 2018.
The Azzurri were beaten to top spot in Group G of UEFA qualifying by Spain and face a two-legged clash with Janne Andersson’s side to advance to next year’s finals, the first match taking place in Stockholm on Friday.
Ventura assured he is not completely overlooking the task at hand, but claimed his focus is already on the build-up and start of the World Cup.
“Because of my mindset, I never considered the possibility of missing the World Cup. We’re all convinced that we will make it,” said the 69-year-old.
“I believe there is a possibility to do something much more important that we can think of in this moment. Now it is time to channel our energies.
“I am not thinking about whether we will play in the World Cup or not. I am already thinking about the group stage as well as the friendlies we have to play, against England and perhaps Argentina if I am not wrong.
“I think about Russia of course, but first of all I am focused on Sweden, which is a mandatory step.”