Mario Balotelli on Italy's World Cup playoff loss: I could have scored

Posted Thursday, March 31, 2022 by ESPN

Mario Balotelli on Italy's World Cup playoff loss: I could have scored

Mario Balotelli has said he could have been Italy's matchwinner had he been selected for their World Cup playoff where they suffered a shock 1-0 loss to North Macedonia.

The Adana Demirspor striker, whose last appearance for the national side was in 2018, was recently recalled to the national side by manager Roberto Mancini for a training camp.

Italy have endured difficulties in front of goal since their victory at Euro 2020 with Tuesday's 3-2 win over Turkey just the second time they have scored more than one goal in a match since their shootout win over England at Wembley and Balotelli suggested he may have made a difference in attack.

"I'm always missed when we lose," Balotelli told Sky Sport Italia. "It's easy to say it now but before the match no one thought about me.

"I watched the match and there were were opportunities. In front of goal I'm pretty good and I'm not saying we would have won if I had been playing but there were opportunities to score"

Mancini, who also managed Balotelli at Inter Milan and Manchester City, recalled the striker to the Italy squad in 2018 when he was appointed after a four-year absence.

And Balotelli said he was happy to hear Mancini is likely to remain as Italy manager despite the failure to reach the 2022 World Cup.

"I haven't spoken to him, but I have a great relationship with the manager and am so happy he is staying, especially as, in just a few years as manager he is already a European champion," Balotelli added.

"It's OK that people are disappointed or sad because of the failed qualification, it hurts that we are not going to Qatar but you can't forget that, in just a short time, the manager led a team that was, yes, strong, but that no one expected [to win] to the Euro 2020 title.

"Mancini has done a great job. He deserves to continue and I am happy he is staying."

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