Mario Balotelli has been declared out for the 2013 Confederations Cup due to a quad strain.
UPDATE: Tuesday, June 25, at 10:40 a.m. ET by Sam Westmoreland
Balotelli provided some insight about his injury to The Guardian.
Having already been ruled out of Thursday's semi, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli decided to send Balotelli home after consulting with team physician Enrico Castellacci. "I feel like a loser leaving this way. I would have liked to stay but there's the Champions League preliminary round so I've got to take care of myself," Balotelli said upon leaving the team hotel, referring to matches in August with Milan. "Anyhow my team-mates will do well even without me."
USA Today also provided us with some new information about the injury itself.
Forward Mario Balotelli will miss Italy's semifinal vs. Spain in the Confederations Cup due to a strained thigh, handing the team another major injury complication before facing the World Cup holder.
The Italian Football Federation made the announcement Sunday following medical tests on Balotelli's left quadriceps.
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UPDATE: Monday, June 24, at 3:35 p.m. ET by Tom Kinslow
Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated has terrible news about Mario Balotelli's status after suffering a thigh injury during the Confederations Cup.
Bummer: Mario Balotelli out of Confed Cup with quad tear.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 24, 2013
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The initial report came from Tancredi Palmeri of CNN.
Balotelli is out of Italy-Spain for muscular injury. Confirmed by medical tests— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) June 23, 2013
Football Italia expanded on this report.
Late on Sunday evening chief medic Professor Enrico Castellacci confirmed to journalists that the muscular problem in the left thigh would not heal in time for Thursday’s semifinal.
It is a huge blow for the Azzurri, who have already lost Ignazio Abate for the rest of the tournament due to a dislocated shoulder.
Italy heads into the semifinals having scored the fewest goals (eight) among the four remaining teams. Balotelli leads the Azzurri with two goals in the tournament, so this will be a major hit for the squad.
Spain is coming off a 3-0 victory over Nigeria in the group stage after defeating Tahiti, 10-0, and Uruguay, 2-1.
Italy is coming off a 4-2 loss to Brazil in the group stage after defeating Japan, 4-3, and Mexico, 2-1.
Balotelli notched 12 goals in 13 games (12 starts) for AC Milan in Serie A competition in 2012-13 after his move from Manchester City. He's scored five goals in four starts for Italy in 2014 World Cup qualifying.
Who will win on Thursday?
While Balotelli has earned a reputation as a player whose head can get the best of him on the pitch, he's an incredibly talented player who drives Italy's offensive attack. His agility, quickness and strength make him one of the top strikers on the globe.
Italy was already considered to be the lesser team against the World Cup defending champions before this news. Now the Italians have a lot to be worried about. Spain—complete with Confederations Cup top scorer Fernando Torres—is riding high right now.
In the absence of Balotelli, Italy's lesser-known players will have to pick up the slack against Spain. A victory over Spain would be a great accomplishment for the Italians—especially without their leading scorer.