Euro 2012: Mario Balotelli is Italy’s best striker, says Roberto Mancini

Mario Balotelli must start Italy's Euro 2012 quarter-final against England, according to Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini

roberto mancini
Roberto Mancini says Mario Balotelli must start Italy's games PA Photos

roberto mancini

Mario Balotelli must start Sunday’s quarter-final showdown with England because he is Italy’s best striker, according to Roberto Mancini.

The Manchester City forward, who started Italy’s first two group games in Poland and Ukraine, came off the bench to score a spectacular strike against the Republic of Ireland after being dropped for Antonio Di Natale.

Di Natale had netted Italy’s opener against Spain after coming on as a substitute – but Mancini has urged Azzurri boss Cesare Prandelli to give Balotelli the nod for their quarter-final clash.

“Mario should always play,” Mancini told Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport. “He is the best and, with him, the national team is much stronger.”

Italy are much stronger if Balotelli plays,” Mancini said. “If you look at the other day, he [Balotelli] came on, made an impact in the game and scored a splendid goal.

“I don’t want to steal Prandelli’s job because he is doing very well, but I consider Mario the best Italian striker. Mario is a champion and champions help you to win things.

“[Antonio] Cassano is a second striker and Di Natale is good but has different characteristics with respect to Balotelli.”

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