Mario Balotelli can make a big difference for Italy at Euro 2012 – but only if he works for the team and demonstrates responsibility, midfielder Thiago Motta has said.
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Paris St Germain midfielder Motta, who was with the Manchester City forward at Inter Milan in 2009-10, believes he can play a vital role for Cesare Prandelli’s side.
Speaking as the squad continued preparations for their opening match of the tournament against Spain on Sunday, he said: “We need Balotelli to work for the team and to show responsibility. Only like that can he make the difference, and I'm sure he will.
“He must help us, especially on the pitch, because off it he can be the same as always. Balotelli makes me just as angry now with his jokes as he did when he was at Inter. But away from the pitch he is a good lad.”
Motta said the Italians needed to regroup after the match-fixing scandal hitting the domestic game overshadowed the build-up to the tournament. Prandelli was forced to drop Zenit St Petersburg defender Domenico Criscito from the squad because he is under investigation.
And a 3-0 defeat to Russia on Friday - Italy's last match before the Euros - was their third in a row.
“It's normal that after three straight defeats you are worried,'' Motta said. “But the mentality of the team will be crucial. We need to help each other out and be generous.
“It is important to have the will and the mentality to win. We have quality players that can play in any team in the world. If we are able to play as a group, we can fight against anyone.
“Against Spain, what matters is the win. Then, if we play well, that is optional. Obviously it would be better to win playing good football. We just have to focus on ourselves.”
Italy also take on Croatia and the Republic of Ireland in Group C.© ESPN