Lunedì, 22 Ottobre 2018

Soccer: Balotelli to miss Spain semi-final


(By Paul Virgo)
Rome, June 24 - Italy are set to be without Mario
Balotelli for Thursday's Confederations Cup semi-final against
world and European champions Spain.
The star striker suffered a thigh injury in Saturday's 4-2
defeat to Brazil in the Azzurri's final group game.
"At the moment it's very, very unlikely that he will be
able to recover in time for Thursday's match," Italy team doctor
Enrico Castellacci told ANSA.
The 22-year-old's tournament may not be over though, if the
Azzurri manage to exact revenge for their 4-0 defeat to Spain at
the final of Euro 2012 last year to reach Sunday's final at the
world famous Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
"It is possible to try for (the final on) Sunday, if the
player and the coach agree," said Castellacci.
"We'll assess his condition every day and then we'll
"At the moment, it's not possible to say too much about
which way it will go".
Balotelli is not the only injury headache for Italy, who
qualified for the Confederations Cup last four by beating Mexico
2-1 and Japan 4-3 before going down to hosts Brazil.
Balotelli's AC Milan teammate Ignazio Abate will take no
further part in the competition, which is designed to help
Brazil prepare for next year's World Cup, after injuring his
shoulder in Saturday's match.
But it is not all bad news.
Midfielder Riccardo Montolivo, another Milan man, is
getting better after coming off because of a knock to the head
against Brazil.
Prandelli also hopes to have playmaker Andrea Pirlo back
after he missed Saturday's defeat with a calf problem and fellow
midfielder Daniele De Rossi will be available after serving a
The Italian players have done well to combat the fatigue of
long seasons with their clubs and the intense summer heat to
make the semis at the tournament.
The scoreline of Saturday's defeat to Brazil, only Italy's
second in a competitive game since Prandelli took over in 2010
after the Euro 2012 final, was flattering to the home side.
But the Azzurri have admitted to being concerned about the
number of goals they have conceded, eight in three matches,
especially since defence is traditionally the forte of Italian
"We have to analyse well what's happened and what hasn't
worked," said defender Christian Maggio.
"We conceded some goals from free kicks that should not
have been given.
"I don't think it's a problem (solely) of the defence".
The Confederations Cup, which takes place the year before a
World Cup in the host nation and features the world champions
and the champions of the continents, is not considered a major
But Italy's failure at the 2009 Confederations Cup proved
to be a foretaste of the then-holder's embarrassing group-stage
exit at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
So Prandelli has told his side he wants them to take the
competition seriously this time.
Italy have qualified for the Confederations Cup as
Euro 2012 runners-up because European champions Spain already
had a slot as world champs.

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