Mancini: ‘Balotelli can do better’

by | May 28, 2018 22:22

Roberto Mancini said Mario Balotelli “can do much better” after a goal on his Italy comeback against Saudi Arabia and promised changes with France.

The 2-1 friendly victory was Mancini’s debut on the Azzurri bench and Balotelli found the net 20 minutes into his first Nazionale game for four years.

Roberto Mancini said Mario Balotelli “can do much better” after a goal on his Italy comeback against Saudi Arabia and promised changes with France.

The 2-1 friendly victory was Mancini’s debut on the Azzurri bench and Balotelli found the net 20 minutes into his first Nazionale game for four years.

“Balotelli can do better, much better, but I thought he did pretty well in the first half. He scored a goal, which is important for a striker, but of course he can do more,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

“The first half went well, as we had 16 shots on goal and 11 corners, but then as fatigue emerged later on, we lost intensity. It’s always good to win, especially after such a long time.”

Italy had drawn two and lost two before this fixture, under Giampiero Ventura and then caretaker tactician Gigi Di Biagio.

They will now face France in Nice on June 1, then host the Netherlands at the Juventus Stadium in Turin on June 4.

“When you play against a stronger side, the performance will probably be higher, but our problem against France will be maintaining intensity over 90 minutes.

“I think we did good things this evening, having lots of shots on goal, moving the ball quickly and that went well. We’ll use other players against France, probably younger ones, and I think it’ll be a very important learning experience for them.

“We wanted to bring in Patrick Cutrone and Nicolo Barella from the Under-21s, but they were both injured. It’s important to give young players experience against a strong side like France.

“It was my first game, so important to win. Saudi Arabia are a long way behind us in the ranking, but they are preparing for the World Cup right now and that’s not to be taken for granted.

“A victory keeps confidence high, we now prepare for France. It’s the end of the season, our players are all tired. There was some weight on us needing to win.”

The goal conceded by Italy was entirely avoidable, as Davide Zappacosta was caught in possession and Gianluigi Donnarumma rushed out to midfield, leaving behind an empty net.

“It was a collection of errors and fatigue. We’ll evaluate the whole game tomorrow in training, but I saw quite a few similar errors in the final half-hour where we gave the ball away cheaply and could’ve conceded, but overall the team did well.”

Russia will face Saudi Arabia in the 2018 World Cup opener on June 14, so ex-Zenit St Petersburg boss Mancini was asked about that game.

“I think Russia will win, but Saudi Arabia are not bad. They have some very fast players upfront and it’s the first game, but it’s Russia’s home.”

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