Italian striker Mario Balotelli, 23, is no longer a sure starter in the upcoming World Cup. In a few days, Italy will be playing against England, and a warm-up match was held on Sunday.
During the warm-up match between Italy and Brazilian club Fluminense, the star players were Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile who combined for five goals for Italy. Balotelli, on the other hand, has not scored for the team since October of last year.
On Monday, Coach Cesare Prandelli said, “Clearly we have some healthy competition up front. Everyone has a chance. Whoever doesn’t play will have to accept the choices… Potentially there could be a lot of start in this squad.”
Immobile, 24, said that he is working as hard as he can so he can get the chance to be a starter. “Goals are always important, even when you score them in training,” he said. He also said that the coach has the final say, and players have to make their contributions for the team “whether that’s from the bench or from the start we need to give our all.”
Meet Mario Balotelli
Although starter players are not set in stone, one thing that is confirmed is that Balotelli and Immobile will not be playing together.
According to Coach Prandelli, two center forwards with plenty of midfielders “would be forcing things a bit.” The coach said that he will be selecting the startup players according to how the team wants to face their opponent. He will also be taking into consideration the psychological and physical state of his players.
The first game against England will take place in a humid jungle in the city of Manaus, which makes physical fitness a big factor when choosing the players.
Whatever the coach decides, he is confident that Italy has done their best in terms of preparing physically. “This squad has the legs and enough gas in the tank to reach the World Cup final,” he said.
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