Leonardo Bonucci came off the bench and reveals why he stopped Mario Balotelli’s celebration. “Unfortunately, Mario is very instinctive…”
The defender was called-upon during the 2-0 win over the Republic of Ireland after Giorgio Chiellini’s injury.
“I wasn’t expecting to come on and before the injury there was no need for me to warm up. Unfortunately when these things happen, you need to be ready.
“It was a struggle at the end, I won’t deny it, as we knew a Croatian goal would knock us out. We suffered for that minute, as to go out that way would’ve been terrible.”
Balotelli scored with a sensational overhead kick, but then started to shout something until Bonucci clasped a hand over his mouth.
“He said something in English, so I’ve no idea what it was! Unfortunately, Mario is very instinctive and that is also his strength. Without that personality he wouldn’t have scored such a great goal.”
It’s believed SuperMario was sending a message to the Irish fans who jeered heavily when he stepped on to the pitch.
Bonucci also commented on the switch to the 4-3-1-2 system after using a 3-5-2 so far in the tournament.
“With this system we struggled in the opening minutes, as we were a little too enthusiastic and unbalanced, so left spaces at the back. Maybe we need to improve in how we control the game when our fitness levels drop.”