RECIFE, 19 JUNE: Italy coach Cesare Prandelli warned Confederations Cup rivals Japan – as well as his own side – to expect the unexpected from striker Mario Balotelli in Thursday’s showdown in Recife.
Balotelli netted a poacher’s winner in Sunday’s win over Olympic champions Mexico yet infuriated his coach by earning a booking for ripping his shirt off.
Even so, Prandelli, who revealed he plans making several changes, is set to persist with the AC Milan forward against the Japanese in only the third ever meeting between the two countries as he sticks to the 4-3-2-1 system used against Mexico.
"I have not yet decided as we now have our most important training session coming up but there will likely be three or four changes," said Prandelli.
"The last game was quite tiring and some players may be fatigued. Japan are a very good team and are dangerous as they have in Italian Alberto Zaccheroni a great coach who knows how to get the best out of them. "It is difficult to talk about Mario. He is unpredictable but he is very motivated when he dons the blue shirt," said Prandelli "We have said for years he has potential."
Keeper Julio Cesar earlier said he belies that Balotelli, a former teammate at Inter Milan, will come of age in due course.
Brazilian football star Neymar today joined his Selecao teammates in backing escalating social protests across the country, and chided President Dilma Rousseff’s government for failing to deliver adequate social services. “Saddened by all that is occurring in Brazil,” Neymar wrote in a statement issued hours before Brazil was to face off against Mexico in their second Confederations Cup match in the northeastern city of Fortaleza. “I always had faith that it would not be necessary to come to the point of having to take to the streets to demand better conditions for transport, health, education and security,” he noted.