Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Champion Mario back in the Italy Fold

Having made a telling late contribution to Manchester City’s Premiership win Mario Balotelli has now been named in Italy’s preliminary 32 man squad for Euro 2012.

City boss Roberto Mancini had previously indicated that his 21-year old compatriot would not feature again in a sky-blue shirt after a series of disciplinary breaches including a recent red card against Arsenal.

With City 2-1 down to QPR, however, Mancini changed his mind and turned to the man from Palermo for inspiration. The ex-Inter Milan star duly provided a neat pass to set up Sergio Aguero to score the winning goal with only seconds remaining and deliver the first league title to the blue half of Manchester since 1968.

It remains to be seen whether or not this domestic contribution influenced Italy manager Cesare Prandelli’s decision, but he seems confident that Balotelli can deliver: "I never really thought of doing this without Balotelli, as he is a focal point of the national team," he said.

Prandelli left Balotelli out of the national squad in February following his stamp on Tottenham’s Scott Parker but he seems willing to forgive and forget now; "Have I made peace with Balotelli? Yes, although to be honest we never argued in the first place" he added.

After his recent disciplinary problems inclusion in this provisional squad is yet another let off for Balotelli who will have to curb his temper if he wishes to make any impact whatsoever in the tournament.The latest Betfair Group C Euro 2012 Odds suggest the 20102 World champions are fancied to qualify for the knock-out stages, but whether that will be as group winners or runners-up remains open to debate.

Italy kick off their campaign with a tough fixture against champions Spain on June 10th but if their star striker concentrates on matters on the pitch then he could deliver the goals needed to make them a force to be reckoned with.

Can the co-hosts Poland cause a shock in their home tournament? They are in a tough group with Greece, Czech Republic and Russia, get all the latest Betfair Group A Euro 2012 Odds here.

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