The Italian national team was dealt a double blow with the participation of Giuseppe Rossi and Antonio Cassano in Euro 2012 thrown into doubt, yet the emergence of Mario Balotelli could serve as the perfect remedy for coach Cesare Prandelli’s concerns.
Balotelli had a slow start to the English season but he has been scoring regularly in recent weeks prompting Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini to praise him. Balotelli and Mancini worked together during their stint with Inter and it was only a matter of time before Mancini would be able to get the best out of Balotelli. The young Italian striker did not get along with former Inter coach Jose Mourinho and has had a controversial career with his erratic behavior on the pitch and off field antics.
His scoring run with the Citizens and most recently his first goal in Azzurri colors have shown that Balotelli can be decisive if used properly. At City, he did benefit from the Carlos Tevez fiasco which paved the way for him to get more playing time while the absence of both Rossi and Cassano has opened the door for Balotelli to shine on the international scene. Mario responded positively by scoring a decent goal against Poland and then went on to help create the second one scored by Giampaolo Pazzini.
Italian boss Prandelli had hinted on a previous occasion that he would like to incorporate Balotelli into a trident attack along with Rossi and Cassano. The current uncertainty might force coach Prandelli to rely on Balotelli first and surround him with complementary players.
Pazzini could be one of the players tasked with partnering Balotelli but there are other potential names such as Juventus striker Alessandro Matri who is having a fine season. Prandelli will be careful not to jump to conclusions with Euro 2012 still a distant event. If Cassano and Rossi recover in time then they will both be included. Even if they are missing, Balotelli has shown he is up to the task of carrying the attacking burden.
There is no doubting Mario’s talent and skills but questions remain about his temperament. If he can stay away from trouble and avoid controversy, both on and off the pitch, then Mario can successfully focus on leaving his imprint on the club level and the international scene.
Italy will be looking to Balotelli to lead the line next summer with the likes of veteran Andrea Pirlo and emerging midfielder Claudio Marchisio offering support. Balotelli’s unpredictability will fit well with Prandelli’s plans to make Italy tougher to defend against and figure out.
The Italian coach has done a great job helping the Azzurri regain the passion to win matches while putting in strong performances. At this rate, it will not be far fetched to see the Azzurri triumph in Euro 2012 with Balotelli spearheading the attack.