Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Since taking my position with B/R a few months ago I have repeatedly advocated for Antonio Di Natale's inclusion in the national team.
This is why.
Di Natale came on as a sub in the 56th minute, replacing Balotelli. It took him five minutes to get his first touch, but what a touch it was. Latching on to a fabulous through ball by Pirlo, Toto cut inside and unleashed a gorgeous shot over Casillas' left shoulder and into the net, his first goal on his first touch in his first game since his last appearance for the Azzurri nearly two years ago.
Di Natale has now scored in his last two international matches, having scored Italy's first against Slovakia at the tail end of Italy's World Cup humiliation in South Africa.
He could have made things even better in the 77th minute, when a good ball in from Sebastian Giovinco put him in for a potential second. Unfortunately the ball was slightly too long, and it was all Di Natale could do to reach it at full stretch, where he put it well wide.
Considering Balotelli's puzzling match today, he may very well have played himself into the starting XI on Thursday, although I'm not entirely sure he'd be able to finish 90 minutes either considering the injuries he had to play through for Udinese at the end of the Serie A season.
Whether he starts or becomes Prandelli's designated supersub in the mold of Alessandro Del Piero's role in 2006, he is going to be pivotal for the Italians as they move forward in this competition.