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Should Balotelli have been in the Italy squad?

Pin Balotelli was left out of Italy's squad for their two friendlies. AFP
Balotelli was left out of Italy's squad for their two friendlies. AFP

Should Balotelli have been in the Italy squad?

Luigi Di Biagio lost in his first game as Italy's interim head coach and with Mario Balotelli excluded from the squad for the two friendlies, was it a mistake to leave him at home?

A Messi-less Argentina was there for the taking. After a lacklustre first-half, the 'Azzurri' turned on the fire burners shortly after the break and should have been two or three goals to the good.

Except they weren't. Their chosen front three of Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne, Lazio's Ciro Immobile and Fiorentina's Federico Chiesa failed to find the break through and Italy would sink to a 2-0 defeat thanks to two late goals from Ever Banega and Manuel Lanzini.

Given that the 2006 World Cup champions shockingly missed out on qualification to this summer's tournament, their friendlies against Argentina and England were the perfect opportunity to show that the team were not past their best.

The first has already gone abegging and now they must overcome a resiliant England on Tuesday to avoid a disappointing international break

One of their biggest issues was the finishing. Yes Argentina's Willy Caballero did a fantastic job on his debut to stifle any danger but both Insigne and Immobile were wasteful with their chances on goal - a surprise given the latter's impressive form for his club this season.

It was even more remarkable given that Mario Balotelli, who has scored 22 goals in 30 appearances in all competitions for Nice this campaign, was left at home.

In fact, apart from Immobile (1.12), Balotelli has the second best goal average out of Italy's attack, finding the net once every 1.36 games compared to Insigne's 3 and Chiesa's 5.8.

He has also consistently performed for the 'Azzurri', bagging 13 goals in 33 appearances - significantly better than Insigne's three from 22.

The 27-year-old does come with disciplinary issues but he has seemingly sorted them out for Nice this season and his unpredictability would be a useful asset in games when Plan A doesn't work, like against Argentina.

Italy may want to build for the future, and Chiesa and Patrick Cutrone may be perfect for that, but it shouldn't mean that they ignore their assets in the meantime...  

Anna Woodberry

Anna Woodberry

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