Balotelli confident of beating England
England's road to the knockout stage
Mario Balotelli has warned England to expect defeat when they face Italy at the World Cup next summer.
The AC Milan forward, 23, says he is ready to make a major impact in Brazil, and he has told England to fear the worst when they meet in their Group D opener on June 14.
"Brazil is a perfect time for me to establish myself as No. 1 striker in the world," Balotell is quoted as saying in The Sun. "The World Cup is where I want to make my mark. The best players always perform on the biggest stages."
Balotelli, part of the Italy side that defeated England en route to the Euro 2012 final, believes his side will have an edge when it comes to the meeting between the two nations.
"All I will say is that I believe we are a stronger team than England and historically we always perform better than them at the major competitions," the former Manchester City player said.
There are concerns that the heat and humidity of Manaus could be a decisive factor but Balotelli added: "I don't think it matters so much that Italy vs. England is in the jungle. It's a World Cup and all the players want to do is represent their country."
Few more so than Joe Hart, who has fallen down the pecking order at City but remains England manager Roy Hodgson’s first-choice. Balotelli believes his former teammate remains one of the best in the business.
"There's no question for me that Joe should be No. 1 for England in Brazil," he said. "He's the best English goalkeeper and the best in the Premier League. The best players in the world can make mistakes, but the class of a player like Joe will always come through."