Italy scored a victory over Denmark in its World Cup qualifying match, 3-1, with the biggest play of the game coming after Italy already had a 2-1 lead.
That big play came from star forward Mario Balotelli, as the 22-year-old netted his first goal for Italy in quite some time. Balotelli played his first game for Italy since competing in Euro 2012.
Adding to his production, Balotelli also had an assist in the win over Denmark, setting up Riccardo Montolivo for the game's first goal. It was a shining example of just how important Balotelli is to what the Italians do offensively.
There is no doubt the Italians are a far better team offensively with Balotelli on the field. Without him, defense is much more of a necessity if the Azzurri want to win against the best teams in the world.
Balotelli commands a ton of attention when on the field. The Italian star has a great ability to exploit that attention by passing the ball to his teammates who enjoy extra space as a result of the respect opposing defenses have for Balotelli.
Not to mention, Balotelli's aggressive style of play also draws fouls—as evidenced by the five he drew against Denmark—which can often put the Italians in a good position to set up a goal, or even a free kick.
But more importantly, Balotelli can score the ball with the best of them in soccer, so getting him the ball deep in the defensive zone will normally result in a goal for Italy. The added element Balotelli affords this squad's offense goes unmatched by any of his teammates.
After having a hand in two of Italy's three goals in his first game back for his country, it remains of vital importance that the Azzurri keep their star player healthy and on the field. With Balotelli on the field, the Italians will sport one of the most complete teams in the world.