Verratti urges Italy fans not to forget Donnarumma contribution at Euro 2020
Marco Verratti has come to the defence of his Paris Saint-Germain and Italy team-mate Gianluigi Donnarumma.
The goalkeeper came in for criticism following PSG's recent Champions League elimination at the hands of Real Madrid, in particular for his error that led to Karim Benzema scoring the Spanish side's first goal at the Santiago Bernabeu in an eventual 3-2 aggregate loss for the Parisians.
Donnarumma has conceded six goals in his last two club appearances, but ahead of Italy's World Cup qualifying play-off against North Macedonia, Verratti wants Azzurri fans to remember his performances during the run to winning Euro 2020.
"We need to be confident. Thursday will be an important match against a team that deserves to be here," Verratti told a news conference.
"As we did during the Euros, we have to go far with enthusiasm and desire.
"Each of us has different stories with our clubs, then here, we have to give everything. With the national team we have always managed to move forward."
It was put to the 29-year-old midfielder that players from PSG and Juventus who were knocked out of the Champions League could bring their dented confidence with them, and he was specifically asked about Donnarumma's mood.
"When you walk into Coverciano [Italy's training complex], you forget everything that happened before, the defeats with our clubs, and you remember what we did last year," Verratti retorted. "We are back to talking about the victory of the European Championship, it's different.
"He [Donnarumma] is sorry for his error against Real Madrid, but Gigio is a special guy. He was already back working the next day with the same enthusiasm.
"Let us not forget what he did for Italy during the Euros. He is one of the best goalkeepers in the world."
Donnarumma played seven games at the rescheduled tournament last year, making 10 stops at a save percentage of 71.43, conceding four goals and making key penalty saves from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka in the final shoot-out against England to clinch the trophy at Wembley Stadium.
Italy are looking to make amends having failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and Verratti insists they will "give everything" to get to Qatar.
"We are accustomed to playing under this kind of pressure," he said. "We know it's a very important moment and we cannot afford to be out of the World Cup, but the only thing I know is to work, give my best and do everything there is.
"When Roberto Mancini arrived [in 2018], we were a broken team and he took us to win the European Championship. He worked on our minds above all, now we are a completely different side and we will do everything to go to Qatar."