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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Messi and Balotelli miss friendly

Italy manager Cesare Prandelli praised his opponents Argentina ahead of their friendly clash in Rome

Lionel Messi and Mario Balotelli have been ruled out of Italy’s friendly against Argentina on Wednesday.

Barcelona confirmed on their official website that Messi had returned to Catalonia as a result of a muscle injury.

A club statement read: “Leo Messi will not feature in the international friendly between Argentina and Italy in Rome this Wednesday. After undergoing tests conducted by the Argentina national team doctors, it was decided that Messi should return to Barcelona and focus on recovering from his muscle injury. The injury forced the forward miss out on Barça’s last match of the Asia Tour.”

Balotelli, meanwhile, had been a doubt for the match after suffering a knee injury in training and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has confirmed he will play no part at the Stadio Olimpico.

A statement published on FIGC.com read: “No Italy-Argentina for Mario Balotelli. The Azzurro striker, who suffered a heavy knock to his knee in training yesterday, has not recovered and will return home.

“Balotelli left the Roman retreat after we had an audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican.”

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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