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Top 5: First XI costs in Premier League

Transfers 5 hours ago
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Oct 16, 2012

Olsen 'fears' Balotelli

Denmark manager Morten Olsen has pinpointed Mario Balotelli as Italy's dangerman, admitting he "fears" him, ahead of the sides' World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

Olsen's side sit currently fifth in Group B with two points from two games, while the Italians are top with seven points from three games.

Denmark will also be facing an Azzurri side at Milan's Stadio San Siro that have not lost a qualifier at home since 1999.

And Olsen knows his team will have to stop Balotelli from finding his rhythm in front of goal if they are to achieve a result, while also needing a little bit of luck on their side.

"It's never easy to face a side like Italy," he said. "To play against the Azzurri is always hard, especially if they are at full strength. You also need a bit of luck in games like this.

"As for Balotelli, he's a great talent and I fear him. I've never seen Balotelli train with Italy or with Manchester City but I really respect him. He's strong in front of goal and he can decide the outcome of a game with a goal or with a pass. He's fantastic.

"Pirlo is certainly an important player, if he manages to orchestrate Italy then it will be difficult for us to win. We have prepared ourselves in an effort to limit all of Italy and not just Pirlo. After all, if he doesn't get into the game then Italy still have Daniele De Rossi. We have to take everyone on."

Olsen also had kind words to say about his own player Nicklas Bendtner, who has struggled to make an impact in Italy since arriving on loan at Juventus at the end of the transfer window.

"He made the right choice in joining Juventus but he arrived on transfer deadline day," he said. "It is also difficult to find space in a title-winning team that has other good forwards too. You can't immediately find space, but he will because he has different characteristics to the others."

Those sentiments were echoed by Bendtner's Juve team-mate Andrea Barzagli who believes he has seen enough in training to know he is in for a tough night when he lines up against him for Italy on Tuesday.

"We'll have to pay Bendtner some close attention," he said. "Italy haven't seen him yet but I face him in training everyday. He's mobile, strong in the air and is dangerous with the ball at his feet."

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