Italy news

Maradona: Balotelli must 'explode'

Argentina legend says Azzurri's forwards must burst into life

ESPN staff

custom caption© PA Photos

Diego Maradona believes Italy can beat Germany if they take advantage of the weaknesses in the German defence and Mario Balotelli "can finally explode."

Maradona said Cesare Prandelli’s side can get through to the final if their forwards – particularly Balotelli – find their touch in front of goal.

Italy missed a string of chances in the quarter-final win over England, but Maradona feels they can take inspiration from the fact that Greece scored twice against the Germans in their last eight defeat by Joachim Low’s team.

In his Indian Times column, he wrote: “Coach Low favours an offensive team. He likes his team to push up the field, to play quick, and take advantage of lapses in opposing defences.

“If one can pick a weakness in the German machine, it’s the defence. Against Greece, a quick counter-attack by Salpingidis and Samaras exposed Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber and Philipp Lahm, and beat a surprised Manuel Neuer. If Greece can score against this German defence, so can Italy.”

But he warned that Italy’s forwards must spark into life for that to happen, saying Prandelli should hope that Balotelli “can finally explode.”

“The Italian forwards Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano have scored only one goal each in this championship,” he wrote. “Against England, the forwards had eight chances, two [efforts against] posts and zero goals – this despite excellent opportunities that came their way.

“The Italians will try to achieve control, defend with order, and hope that Balotelli can finally explode.”

© ESPN

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