Mario Balotelli backed to improve for Italy after disappointing display against Spain

 

Italy Football Federation president Giancarlo Abete is confident Mario Balotelli will bounce back from his disappointing display against Spain.

The Manchester City forward was replaced before the hour mark in yesterday's 1-1 draw in the Euro 2012 Group C opener in Gdansk shortly after missing a golden scoring opportunity.

The 21-year-old had previously been shown a yellow card for a late challenge on Spain's Jordi Alba.

"Balotelli made his contribution, but he must try to understand the reality of playing in a major international competition in which there is no forgiveness," Abete told Italian radio station Radio Anch'io Sport. "He nevertheless put the Spanish defence under pressure.

"Balotelli will not allow himself to be disheartened."

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, meanwhile, claimed Balotelli's substitution was not a "punishment" for the striker's missed chance.

Balotelli only had Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas to beat, but hesitated and allowed defender Sergio Ramos to recover and make a crucial challenge.

"I had already decided to bring on (Antonio) Di Natale before the error, so it was not a punishment," Prandelli said. "I don't know what happened to Mario when he was alone in front of their goalkeeper.

"He probably had two options and in these cases a striker should only have one.

"He should have passed it to (fellow striker Antonio) Cassano."

The Azzurri take on Group C leaders Croatia in Poznan, Poland, on Thursday.

PA

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