Balotelli the answer to Italy’s problems?

by | Nov 18, 2021 16:48

Mario Balotelli’s brother believes the former Inter and Milan attacker would be the answer for Italy’s striker problems, but should he be called up for the play-offs in March?

The Azzurri are in the draw for the play-offs scheduled in March, finishing second behind Switzerland in Group C of the World Cup Qualifiers.

Italy must win a semi-final and a Final to book a ticket for Qatar 2022 and the recent striker problems have given Italy CT Roberto Mancini a headache.

Balotelli ‘ideal for Mancini’s Italy’

Ciro Immobile was ruled out with an injury and Mancini was not convinced by Andrea Belotti’s performance in the 1-1 draw with Switzerland. Belotti didn’t impress in the absence of Immobile, who has also been criticised for his lack of goals in the Azzurri shirt.

The lack of depth in the attacking department has been discussed in recent days and Balotelli’s brother Enock Barwuah believes the Adana Demirspor striker should be called up.

Balotelli has moved to Turkey to kickstart his career at 31, where he has scored five times in 13 games so far with Vincenzo Montella’s side.

Balotelli, however, scored Italy’s last goal in a World Cup, as the Azzurri didn’t qualify for Russia 2018.

Montella: ‘Balotelli targets return to Italy squad’

The 31-year-old scored the winner in the 2-1 triumph against England in Group D of World Cup 2014, before the Azzurri lost 1-0 to both Costa Rica and Uruguay and thus crashed out of the competition.

A lot of the blame was put on the shoulders of the striker, who was out of the squad until he returned for the three friendlies against Saudi Arabia, France and the Netherlands in 2018, before playing 62 minutes in the UEFA Nations League against Poland later that year.

Balotelli has scored 14 goals in 36 caps with the Azzurri and as Mancini is currently struggling to find an immediate replacement for Immobile, it could be an idea to call the striker back into the fold ahead of the games in March.

There’s been a reliability problem with the former Liverpool and Manchester City forward, but he has now moved to Turkey to rebuild his career. It’s not something new for Balotelli, who has played in England, France and Italy during his career, but it’s a sign of intent.

After having worked with Mancini at City and Inter, the striker believes his relationship with Mancini could help him win a place in the team.

“I have a very good relationship with Mancini, and I have always had it,” Balotelli told OCW Sport. “I feel ready to return to the national team.

“It would be a dream. I’d be leaving Turkey by foot now if I knew I got a call-up in March.”

Balotelli dreams of Italy return: ‘I spoke to Mancini…’

Balotelli has always shown a great desire to return to the Azzurri squad and if Mancini can’t find a better option to replace Immobile than to play with a ‘false nine’, maybe the former Brescia forward could have the potential to impress once more for the national team.


  1. Uncle Z

    It is so depressing that we have to even be mentioning this naughty boy who wasted his talent. I would rather see if Bobo would like to come out of retirement.

  2. The Queens Half Corgi

    No Italy player, aside from maybe Baggio and Vieri who both were determined to be in form and fit in time for the 1998 and 2006 World Cups, respectively, loves the Italy shirt more than Balo. Give him credit for that. The man loves the shirt beyond all others.

    But is this really the time to do it?

    I’m convinced Mancio has to take a big gamble and change formation. Even we know how they play and the 4-3-3 has gotten unbelievably stale and predictable. Of course any Friendly or June’s UNL would have been ideal to bring in new blood and new formation but we are in a jam. Our own doing.

    I’m convinced somebody’s gotta go grab Lorenzo Lucca from Pisa in January. At this age, he is falling behind his contemporary’s like Oshimen at Napoli by being buried in ‘B’.
    Another name somebody mentioned the other day was Amaru of Venezia. Mattia Amaru is not a Striker but he could be an alternative to Jorgi. Say nothing of Pellegrini and Sensi are always hurt.

    Either that or do what Allegri did against the Chelsea in the UCL match. Use Chiesa and Berna as the 2 Strikers, boh. They scored and created about 2 more chances. Kean will hopefully be in form in March.

    But sooner or later, Mancio has to face facts. If Gallo is still stuck on 4 goals by March and hobbling along not doing anything extraordinary, stay home. If Ciruzzo has any sort of doubt they must not be called. Raspadori and Scamacca are clearly not there yet.

    Balo has swagger and I believe if he felt nervousness amongst the group by being in yet another Playoff, he would knock it out of them.

    I do believe it not being for another 4.5 Months is a blessing in disguise. If the Playoff was next week, we’d be out. This time away from the NT setup can clear any mental block they clearly have developed. 4 Draws in the last 4 WCQ’fiers is a disaster. Especially after starting things off with 4 convincing Wins.

  3. ritty

    No, never. Look at the harmony that won Italy the Euros. He’d destroy everything.

  4. The Queens Half Corgi

    The only issue that maybe is there is when Chiellini wrote in his autobiography that Balo deserved a slap for his behavior in the 2013 Confederations Cup.

    That was years ago. Would that be a factor? And didn’t Chiellini apologize saying he went to far by writing that?.

    Also, I’m not even sure how much team building will be done in these 10 days or so.

    Balo has surely gotten over it. He’s had worse things written about him.

    We are in a real jam here.


    Mancini has to put his faith in Kean as long as he’s healthy of course because relying on Balotelli for goals is pointless – he’s a red card waiting to happen when he’s on the field and he does not run back – at least Kean does !

  6. Gman1980

    I don’t think I’ve heard any recent teammates slate or complain about Mario? At Monza he was great in the dressing room despite dropping to SerieB.
    Yes he needs to behave but I think that Mario is going to fit in better to this younger Italy team than the team of 2014.
    We need to judge him on his goals and yes his conduct.
    The 2014 Uruguay game was a calamity of errors that started with Mario being hauled off by Prandelli due to the risk of him getting sent off.
    It was a low point to see that and for that to be his last minutes in an international tournament would be a travesty.

    I find it hard to dislike Mario.

    The Romantic in me thinks there is something very Italian about Mario coming back.
    My line has been the same for 5 years, I hope and pray Mario sorts himself out as he is unplayable when he is on it.

    His performance vs Brazil in the confederation cup 2013 is one of best I’ve seen from an Italian centre fwd before he got injured. It still sticks in my mind!

    His Skillz cannot be found in any other Italian player.
    Hoping that he has found some peace and maturity, coupled with some drive to right the wrongs of the past.
    SuperMario to the rescue?

  7. The Queens Half Corgi

    5 goals in 13 matches with a weak, newly promoted, team is not that bad.

    If the goal rate is still the same when the Playoffs arrive, he has to be considered, sorry.

    Also, I won’t blame him if we go out. That would just be too easy and a cop out. I will blame it on the group of players that didn’t get the job done in the last 4 matches.

  8. The Queens Half Corgi

    Yeah, Uruguay game. About that.

    Marchisio is a clown for his studs on tackle. He knew what he was doing. But the biggest clown of all was the Ref and AR for not seeing the bite by Suarez on Chiellini.

    We weren’t winning the tournament and we likely lose to Colombia in the next game but if there was VAR in that WC, Uruguay would have been out and us through.

  9. Usman Yusuf

    Mario is a spoilt brat who should have grown up, he does not deserve to even be considered for a national call up, it’s not just the strikers that are at fault , have they been given good service..?
    It has to do with the team dynamics, even from the setup of the team, from the defence where I honestly don’t feel Bonucci and Chiellini should even be starting, even if Italy goes to the world cup, do we honestly believe those two and Gigi can be a solid backbone for a winning team..?
    Mancini has to understand that his game play has to evolve, and certain players should not even be in that team, even Jorginho is an issue, and he is to blame for this situation, as a professional you need to set up in certain situations, even the way he plays penalties is very risk and unprofessional, the midfield needs to be shaken up, Mancini should also try and blood some U21 players, he should be brave enough to do so.
    Italy are European champs, but this team is very over rated , right now Mancini should start afresh, and give other people a chance, most of this team are one trick ponies, and I will say it again Bonucci and Chiellini should be replaced, they cannot survive the rigors of the WC, even their build up play is poor, the whole team needs repair.
    Balotelli is not a professional, or does not deserve to wear the Azzuri jersey again, he is immature, lazy, arrogant and has alot of issues….this topic should not even be discussed…

  10. joe del monte

    Where does this come from? Are we that desperate? Play the kids

  11. Jarod KNowles

    The Queens Half Corgi
    That’s a great comment on various players and they do read our comment and pass info along so very happy to see your great suggestions.

    I have preferred though to harp about the players technique as there appears to be a pattern with all of the strikers for decades now and they need to adjust their finishing, like hit the ball less hard, not kick at the keeper, not try to canon ball score from midfield. I feel that the issue is also a luck factor but on technique if they simply adjust the aggression on the ball less of it just a tinge it will dip and not go wide and also pls do not shoot the ball at keepers’ this is not baseball the keeper is the enemy not a catcher on the same team!

    I happen to like Balo and find he is sensitive and hurts easily is what I think it is but I agree that for Mar it would be risky to try him even though I like him.

    Our suggestions are vital as they are passing the info along.

  12. Jarod KNowles

    Add to my prev post,
    I forgot to add that when a player anyone as they all do this when you have 1 2 defenders in front of you are you really going to kick the ball hard at them, we hear the smacking from the pundits booth! Why not flick the ball over them to one of your teammates, and when your faced with the keep why kick the ball at him? Just flick it over or to his side. I find the technique needs some tweaking and we can then see 100 goals from Chiesa for example. If Chiesa does these tips in training etc it will work.

  13. Peter

    Please please stop bringing up this Balotelli return. He was obviously a bad influence in the Brazil World Cup squad, and has tried to resurrect his career 2 or 3 times now. As for him loving the Italian shirt more than any other player, are you joking? His parents weren’t even born in Italy!

  14. Tommaso

    Jarod, this isn’t fifa or pro evo. You make football sound like a computer game. Do you really think players are taking on board your comments on how to kick a football?

  15. The Queens Half Corgi


    He does, man. Last time I was on his Instagram he identifies himself as an Italy player. Which current Italy player does that? He always speaks of how he wants back in.

    Totti always wanted out. I recall years back Alessio Tacchinardi, in his few Caps earned, give little importance to Call Ups.

    Zaniolo and Kean pretty much sabotaged the U21 EC Tournament for Italy a few years ago by being late for no good reason to a mandatory team meeting. Zaniolo doesn’t score, has less discipline than Balo (remember his crotch grab at the end of the derby towards the Lazio fans?), and is always injured. YET people are depending on him to go forward.

    Balo’s strike rate for Italy is pretty good. My only issue is that it reeks of desperation but the thing is, we are. There is a dearth of Italian Strikers. In fact, FI even had an editorial on the topic a week or two after Euro 2020. They should republish it.

    While it pains me to see Spain gives caps to 18 Year Olds and moving forward, we may very well have to recycle our guys and squeeze what we can out of them. I’m telling you, if Balo sensed nervousness on our guys in the leadup, he would smack it out of them.

    All hands on deck. We CANNOT miss out on another WC so soon. I’m OK with 1 every 60 years, but back-to-back is too much.

  16. Jarod KNowles

    Forgo to mention to my prev posts
    It would be an asset to only play the ones that are actually scoring in past 3-6 months.

  17. The Queens Half Corgi


    And I hope Barella gets some sleep between now and then. He looks like a zombie out there.

  18. Micdam

    Bring him back in!! The guy has heart and passion for the azzurri! Always has done.. hes gota point to prove n this could be the perfect timing, he scores goals and penalties… if the delivery is there for him theres no doubt hel smash that ball in the net. Atleast asa back up plan.. keep him on bench until mancini is done watchn immobile and bellotti waste chances upon chances. … he may of had bad luck at club level,, but hes always been great for azzurri, we dont have many other options.. and hes already got world cup n euro experience… yes lucca from serie b is obviously talented.. but he playing serie b, would he be banging them goals in serie a? At high level? We dont know yet..

  19. Jarod KNowles

    Guys, site is london based and linked with all the other guys espe etc, the material is being passed on, we do not have time to experiment with new players maybe 1 -2 but we have to adjust the technique.

    Also as for the dishing on Balo, when he was under prad and we had for a brief period Rossi ands Cassano Balo was happiest and performing then Rossi lost his career with the knees, we now have a sort of Rossi flare player who cerate things out of nothing and that is Chiesa I will show you how I will turn this kid into a 100 goals player, Chiesa only needs some finishing tweaks, minor tweaks. Rumor states that Allegri is about to move him center so he will poof out less and focus on that finish, it’s just that minor thing and this lassie will be a monster!

    Also for those that think they don’t; look at these comments, we complained a few wks back about canon balls at zenit CL with Juv where Chiesa was at fault with 3-4 then other players copycatted him and i counted like 7-8 canon balls form midfield to try to score and not 1 went in, and the next game at Fiorentina there was not 1 peak nor a squeak of a canon ball as Allegri clamped down and guess what we won both games that is we juv fans. Also people complained about a retreat but it actually worked as they won 2 games in those 3-4 days at the place there, also complaints about nedved yelling when that is exactly what one should do conte des this and gets results!

    It’s all in the details the tiny details make a big diff, if you kick the ball to hard it will us usually go wide you need to adjust the kick and then it will dip.

    I see people rip on balo, Allegri etc even mourinho ronaldo but it’s all about the tiny details, you work with what you have and bring the best out of it, look at conte that is what he does kane score 3 with eng and now back at Tott he will score 2 conte has fired him up

    you tweak what you got nd maybe add a few new players but not a radical change, there is no time for that-on my end I will push chiesa until i see 100 goals

  20. Macs

    Worth a try – on his day and that includes now, he can be devastating. No matter what anyone says Balo has raw talent, a baggio, totti, del perio type of talent in his own way and with his own characteristics – before anyone try’s to downplay that statement.

    Sure, others have been consistent in world football as a CF and he wasted a ballon dor top 5 potential career, but right now wouldn’t you rather Balotelli over Belotti?

    Kean is used as a winger anyway and 3 centre forwards get picked, so it doesn’t affect Kean if he is taken as a CF.

    Scammaca – who we’d hope to get a similar type of tall forward characteristics – doesnt even consistently start for Sassulo yet, Raspadori doesn’t either and he seems a bit weak for the azzurri at the moment. We hoped for pietro pellegri but injuries seemed to ruin him being our CF for a decade.

    Immobile works for Mancini’s style creates spaces for Chiesa and Zaniolo (I hope over Insigne), but the last failure with Sweden, Immobile played both games and has it in him to disappoint when it counts. Sure, this is Mancini we are talking about – a winning manager with style and a crop of talented players miles ahead of 2018 but Balotelli even as an impact sub, is a huge weapon for Italy, he’s a big game striker, and when it counts (aside from off the pitch, and personal issues) Balo doesn’t hide in pressured moments in big games.

    Some of the chances missed against Sweden in 2018, would have served up perfectly for Balo.

    This is the playoffs we’re talking about, nothing should be left to regret. In a tight game he could unlock a goal with one moment, but can the same be said about Ciro? We all know how amazing he is for Lazio, but that level of consistency never seems to flow over to Italy, and are we willing to wait around for that to happen.

    Mancini knows how to get the best out of Balo in terms of dressing room harmony – so that won’t be an issue.

    Balo as one of 3 forwards to potentially play a role in our qualification to Qatar is worth it, that doesn’t guarantee him a place at the world cup, but it could help Italy’s cause. After that, he’d have to prove his worth like everyone else to make the final tournament squad.

    A front trio of strikers in the squad of Immobile Kean and Balotelli is a dynamic forward line, all three offer different characteristics but they all have pace, to play in behind, with our euro style attacking system, that bodes well.

  21. MancityRules!

    Yes, bring him back!
    Balotelli is way better than any striker Italy has right now.
    Like him or not, he can add tremendous value (as a manchester city fan, I would know).
    Immobile and Bellotti have no business being on the azzurri squad.
    I’d say even bring back El Shaarawy.

  22. Feroli

    You could put him on the bench. There may be a moment in the play off games when he could be useful. But it obvioulsy depends on Mancini’s tactics. As for @Peter’s dumb comment ‘his parents weren’t even born in Italy’ ergo he can’t be passionate about Italy. You p**t. Most people commenting on this site weren’t born in Italy, some have rarely been to Italy and certainly can’t speak Italian. So what does that make them? You nasty idiot.

  23. TONINO

    Balo does have passion for Italy which is a shame that he doesn’t when playing for a club. La Nazionale should be open to all who merit it. Place of birth does not mean anything. Everybody should be treated the same. If Balo improves and is eligible, then he should be just like anyone else? I am happy that the play offs are played in 4.5 months time. To be honest, I hope it is a tough opposition who play well but also allow football to take place and not the likes of Wales, NI who did what we used to do Catenaccio but for some reason they get praised and we were instead criticised for it. The FIGC are trying to get a week or so for the preparation and now we must hope that none get injured. It is also true that Pellegrini is such a sick note that it is impossible to rely on him. It is going to be very tough indeed. It is also a very odd system of getting only 3 out of 12 to qualify. Finally, Ciro Immobile may not be scoring a lot for Italy but he definitely makes space for others to get through. I am going to be honest, I missed him playing for Italy in the last few games.

  24. TONINO

    Jarod Knowles is absolutely right. No time to experiment. Just a few twigs here and there. Roll up their sleeves and give 100% to win and get to Qatar. No more poor displays and no excuses. Just concentrate and get the job done.

  25. The Queens Half Corgi

    Gab Marcotti, in his podcast recently, asked the queston what does Mancio do for the Playoff.

    Option 1: Put faith in the guys that got you there, hope there are no injuries.

    Option 2: Throw the other teams preparation out the window and come out with a new formations and change players? Risky for us, obviously as experimenting in 2 must-win matches can be suicide.

    I can’t help but think of the comments that Marat Yakin (Swiss Manager) who said he’s watched all of Italy’s matches and knows what they do. 4-3-3 with the same personnel.

    In a sense because of the winning streak we had no reason to modify things. But now it has become stale and teams know what we do.

    This is something Mancio and staff need to think about. I have heard he wants to get a Training Camp for January.

  26. mark

    Get the u-21 strikers in there.

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