Euro 2012: Mario Balotelli in the frame for Italy’s must win game
Italy forward Mario Balotelli is back in training and appears to have recovered from a right knee injury, making him available for tonight’s match against Ireland.
Moments before yesterday’s training session, coach Cesare Prandelli said Balotelli is “much better,” adding that “if he trains, then he’ll be available.”
The 21-year-old striker had to abandon training on Saturday because of what the Italian football federation said was “a minor right knee problem.”
Balotelli has often been bothered by right knee problems and had meniscus surgery on that knee in September 2010, meaning he was sidelined for two months.
Antonio Di Natale replaced Balotelli in the second half of Italy’s opening two matches, 1-1 draws with Spain and Croatia, and scored against the Spanish.
Meanwhile, Prandelli has called for calm from his Italy side as they prepare for their make-or-break Group C clash with the Irish.
The Italians need to win to have any chance of making it to the quarter-finals and even then, a high-scoring draw between Spain and Croatia in Gdansk would put them out.
Prandelli was bombarded with “what if?” questions and speculation that the ghost of Euro 2004, where a draw between Sweden and Denmark accounted for Giovanni Trapattoni’s Italy, could return to haunt them.
However, Prandelli was in relaxed mood as he approached a crucial 90 minutes, which he nevertheless described as “the most important game” of his reign to date.
Asked what would represent the difference between success and failure, he replied: “It’s very difficult to say. We are just thinking about tomorrow’s game.
“We are always getting ahead of ourselves, us Italians, but I always say that if you get ahead of yourself, you fall over.”
Prandelli insists he is thinking of nothing other than finding a way to condemn his former Juventus manager to a third successive Euro 2012 defeat.
Trapattoni and Prandelli know each other well, of course, and the younger man retains a huge fondness for the 73-year-old, despite seeing his side slip to a 2-0 friendly defeat by Ireland in Liege last summer.
He said: “When I speak about Giovanni Trapattoni, I always talk about the coach, ‘Il Mister’, because I had him at a special time in my career.
“I was only 20 years old at the time and I grew up playing under him, and he always respected everyone.
“Even those of us who didn’t play very much, he still thought we were very important, all the players in the squad.
“He is a fantastic person.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West