Riccardo Montolivo was happy with his first competitive Italy goal and hailed his teammate. “If this is the real Mario Balotelli…”
The Milan midfielder unleashed a screamer to open the scoring in tonight’s 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Denmark at San Siro.
“The Coach doesn’t ask me to score, though obviously it doesn’t hurt if it arrives,” he said after previously netting only in a friendly against Spain.
“It came in a decisive moment tonight, as Denmark were pushing hard and with two goals in five minutes we changed the course of the game.
“The Danes are certainly organised and we struggled to find the right timing for our runs, always arriving a moment late to the ball. The goal changed the match.”
Denmark scored in first half stoppages and 16 seconds after the restart Pablo Daniel Osvaldo was sent off.
“I thought it was going to be tough, as it really is hard for an entire half with 10 men at this level. It was a great shame, as just a few seconds after the restart Daniel got this red card. It was tough.
“There was a moment when I considered passing it, but I made that mistake a few days ago, so I saw the net and opted to shoot.”
Balotelli was inspirational, scoring and working for the team to earn a standing ovation at San Siro.
“I think in the second half when we were down to 10 men, Balotelli was magnificent. He was the entire front line, holding up the ball, running on to passes and keeping the defenders busy.
“He worked so hard for the team. If this is the real Balotelli, then we’ve got a great future ahead of us.”
Montolivo is used as a trequartista for the Azzurri, but has often said he dislikes that role.
“My ideal position is not a classic trequartista. I have other characteristics, so trying to be a reference point for my teammates and to spread the play. I am certainly not the one who has his back to goal and runs at defenders!
“We had this idea to rotate the midfield four during the game, so Marchisio went into the trequartista position at times. It is tough to do and takes time.
“In recent games with Milan I think I played well in a three-man midfield. To be a trequartista, at least for me, it requires a team like this with a lot of possession and rotation in the middle.”