Euro 2012: Man City’s Mario Balotelli ‘not a difficult character’

Mario Balotelli is not a disruptive influence in the dressing room, according to Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi

mario balotelli
Mario Balotelli has found it hard to steer clear of controversy of late Photo: Football.ua, via Wikimedia

mario balotelli

Daniele De Rossi has brushed off claims that Mario Balotelli is a disruptive influence in the dressing room ahead of Italy’s semi-final clash with Germany.

The controversial Manchester City striker is rarely out of the headlines for long and a less-than-impressive disciplinary record at Eastlands has not helped his cause.

City boss Roberto Mancini had claimed that he would not play for the Citizens again following his red card at Arsenal in April – but the Italy forward did return and set up Sergio Aguero’s title-clinching winner against Queens Park Rangers.

But De Rossi insists that Balotelli, who netted a spectacular overhead kick as a substitute for Italy against the Republic of Ireland in the group stage, is not a source of trouble.

“Mario is not a difficult character at all,” said De Rossi. “We treat him as one of the squad, no more, no less.

“On Sunday I shouted at him at half-time but that has happened thousands of times in my career with players. There are no problems with him and there have never been any. He is a very good player.

“There is no need for us to have a word with him, that’s up to the coach, and we don’t need to make any extra effort with him.”

Cesare Prandelli’s Italy take on 2008 runners-up Germany in Warsaw on Thursday night.

Germany v Italy: Pre-match facts

• Italy have never lost to Germany or West Germany in a competitive fixture and have twice beaten them in semi-finals before, both times at World Cups, including in 2006 when Joachim Löw was Germany’s assistant coach.

• Three-time winners Germany have won all but one of their six European championship semi-finals while Italy, champions in 1968, are still looking for their first semi-final goal – at the fourth attempt.

• Joachim Löw’s side have won a record 15 successive competitive games, breaking the 14-match international record previously held by Spain (2010-11), France (2002-04) and the Netherlands (2008-2010).

• Germany have kept just four clean sheets in their last 19 matches at European championships.

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