Daniele de Rossi insists Italy striker Mario Balotelli is no trouble

 

Italy midfielder Daniele de Rossi has rejected the idea madcap striker Mario Balotelli is a disruptive influence on the dressing room.

Balotelli could emerge a key figure in Warsaw tonight as Italy try to maintain their remarkable record against Germany and book a Euro 2012 final showdown with Spain.

The 21-year-old is hardly the most reliable of characters though, with his boss at Manchester City, Roberto Mancini, stating before there is little point in trying to talk with Balotelli because he simply does not listen.

It did appear the former Inter Milan man was getting a tongue-lashing from De Rossi at one stage during the quarter-final triumph over England.

But if he was, De Rossi was eager to stress there was nothing abnormal in that and Balotelli is a valued member of Cesare Prandelli's side.

"Mario is not a difficult character at all," he said.

"We treat him as one of the squad, nothing more, nothing less.

"There is no need for us to have a word with him, that is up to the coach, and we don't need to make any extra effort with him.

"On Sunday I shouted at him at half-time but that has happened thousands of times in my career with players.

"But there are no problems with him and there have never been any.

"He is a very good player."

Not that Prandelli wants to delve too deeply into Balotelli's psyche. That might prove too complicated.

He said: "How do you try to work out what goes on in the head of a 21-year-old young man?

"In terms of his behaviour, mentality and psychology, he has changed radically with us.

"There are no problems with communication. I'm just curious to see what he is feeling, what sacrifices he is prepared to make to become a great footballer."

The return of Giorgio Chiellini from a thigh injury will strengthen Italy's defence ahead of what is anticipated to be a far more strenuous workout than the one England gave them at the weekend.

However, Italy's belief they can cause a shock will be reinforced by their impressive record of never losing a competitive game to Germany in seven meetings that include the 1982 World Cup final and 2006 semi, when they were even less fancied than they are tonight.

 

PA

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