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Gary Lim
Monday, Jun 2, 2014

Sports

It's Mario, again

The New Paper | Gary Lim | Monday, Jun 2, 2014

Italy's forward Mario Balotelli walks on an empty field during a training session at Florence's Coverciano training ground on May 21, 2014 before the upcoming FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014.

Italy striker's latest comments will be music to the ears of the English players.

Mario Balotelli does what he wants, as the popular football chant goes.

But, in the latest episode of the Italian striker's long-running series of wisecracks, his words may come back to bite him hard.

England no match for Italy?

Whatever he's on, Balotelli is setting himself up for an embarrassing own goal.

Obviously, he's entitled to his opinion, but football is littered with examples of players and managers being left with egg on their faces after being proven wrong.

England kick off their 2014 World Cup campaign against Italy in Manaus, Brazil, on June 14.

Roy Hodgson could well be writing Balotelli a thank-you card for helping him motivate his English troops ahead of the clash.

In a recent interview, Balotelli told the Daily Mail: "I don't look at England as a team that can win the World Cup.

"They have some good players, but they are no real rivals for Italy."

Balotelli has every right to feel confident.

He was part of the Italy side that beat England in a Euro 2012 quarter-final match on penalties, en route to the final where they lost to Spain.

But to dismiss England's chances so emphatically sounds like a suicide plan.

The Three Lions go into the World Cup with little pressure.

Among those Hodgson will take with him to Brazil are a new generation of English stars who don't carry the baggage of previous international failure.

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