Saturday June 1 2013
Prandelli: 'Balotelli's best game'

Cesare Prandelli had good news for Luca Antonelli and said Mario Balotelli’s performance against San Marino “was his best in my time here.”

Italy won the friendly 4-0 at the Stadio Dall’Ara in Bologna on Friday evening with goals from Andrea Poli, Alberto Gilardino, Andrea Pirlo and Alberto Aquilani.

There were concerns for Genoa full-back Antonelli, who limped off before half-time and was taken to hospital for x-rays on a suspected fractured shin.

“The good news is there is no fracture for Antonelli,” announced Prandelli in his Press conference.

“We tried to play quickly and not allow counter-attacks to our opponents, so I saw what I wanted to see and am very satisfied.

“Many players were called up so I could see them in action and work with them in training. It was a useful match to understand a few things, as there are some precise choices that need to be made.”

The Coach must whittle down his squad to the final 23 for the Confederations Cup on Monday, so gave Marco Sau and Giacomo Bonaventura their senior Italy debuts.

“You can’t expect players to have a perfect balance after only a couple of training sessions. Sau moved well in attack and the others were simply unable to find him with their passes. It was a good debut for both Sau and Bonaventura.”

Although Balotelli did not score as a second half substitute, he did hit the woodwork twice after suffering from back pain all week.

“Balotelli played his best game since I’ve been here. He must always have this spirit and this hunger. This is the attitude a champion needs to have and he transmitted it to his teammates.

“The people love Mario and we’re all happy, as this Nazionale is popular with the fans. The lads are enthusiastic, hungry and happy to see so many fans in the stadium. We thank the supporters for coming out and cheering on the players, as the team definitely feels that warmth.”

Italy now continue their preparations for the Confederations Cup and the World Cup qualifier in the Czech Republic on June 7.

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