Italy’s Mario Balotelli Dropped After Bad Game


Italy’s Mario Balotelli has shouldered the blame for a poor performance in a 1-1 draw against Poland on Friday, and has been dropped from the 23-man squad by coach Roberto Mancini for the UEFA Nations League game against Portugal on Monday.

“It happens that you can have a bad game,” Mancini said, according to ESPN FC. “When you play well, you get lots of praise and if you don’t play well, you get a lot of criticism and it’s just part of being a footballer. Everybody sees the game they want to, and frankly, I’m not worried.”

Ciro Immobile is set to serve as the replacement.

“The game against Poland was our first competitive game with three points at stake, and sooner or later, we will find the right formula,” Mancini continued. “We just need a bit of patience, but patience does not exist in Italy, so let’s hope we find the right formula quickly.

“We need to make fewer mistakes and then we need to get more forwards in the box.”

Cristiano Ronaldo will not play for Portugal, but that still presents a big challenge for the opposing team.

“Portugal are the reigning European champions and they are stronger with Ronaldo, but even without him, they have players with very high technical qualities,” Mancini said. “It’s only normal that they play differently without him, but they are still strong.”

“We want to finish top and go to the European Championship,” Mancini said. “We don’t want to come last, also because of the difficulty this would bring to the next draw. Our aim is to try to win.”