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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Mar 2, 2012

Mancini: Balotelli the best in Italy

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini believes striker Mario Balotelli should be leading the attack for Italy at Euro 2012.

Balotelli, 21, was controversially overlooked by coach Cesare Prandelli for this week's international friendly against the United States - a decision which attracted more criticism when the Azzurri were beaten.

Prandelli publicly cited the striker's indiscipline as his reason for the omission and Mancini, who has had words with the player about the same subject, agreed Balotelli ''should improve his behaviour''.

But Mancini, himself a former Italy striker, does not think Prandelli could have anyone better to spearhead the challenge in Poland and Ukraine this summer than Balotelli.

Mancini said: ''Mario is the best striker in Italy, there is not another striker in Italy better than him. I don't think Italy can leave him at home - I don't think Prandelli can do this. For me, there are few players in Europe like Mario, with his talent.''

Balotelli only returned to Premier League action after a four-match domestic ban for stamping on Tottenham's Scott Parker in January last week.

The forward impressed with a disciplined and goalscoring performance in the leaders' win over Blackburn and Mancini now hopes this latest jolt will further focus his mind for the months ahead.

Mancini said: ''In my opinion, he was upset. It was not my decision, it was Prandelli's decision and he has his reasons. I think we should arrive at the point where Mario only plays football.

''In this moment I trust him, he is a good guy. Maybe he can make some mistakes but I trust him. Last year, in the last two months he played very well. I hope we can have the same situation like last year and to have all the strikers in form is important now.''

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