Mario Balotelli: Italian Star Injured in Training, Status in Doubt vs. Ireland
Italian striker Mario Balotelli injured his knee in training and his availability for Italy’s final group game against Ireland is now in question.
TSN.com reported the news and quoted the Italian football federation, who described the injury as a “minor right knee problem.”
Balotelli started both of Italy’s previous group games, which each ended in a draw. In order to move through to the knockout stages, Italy must defeat Ireland, who has already been eliminated.
The striker has been in decent form, but has not provided Italy with anything spectacular. He is averaging three shots per game, according to Whoscored.com, but has yet to record a goal.
Will Italy be able to win a game in the knockout stages without Mario Balotelli?
The talented forward has had recurring problems with his knee throughout his career. The original injury occurred in 2010 when he damaged the meniscus in his right knee, per BCC.com.
If Balotelli is not able to play, the obvious choice to replace him is Antonio Di Natale. Balotelli was subbed out of both of Italy’s previous games in favor of Di Natale.
Against Spain, Di Natale proved to be capable and gave Italy a 1-0 lead on a clinical finish. The Italians went on to tie the match, 1-1.
Balotelli’s services will not be urgently needed against a weak Irish side. If the team’s result puts them through to the group stage and the injury proves to be serious, however, Italy will miss his strength, skill and pace.
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