Balotelli, Suarez seek more goals

2011-11-14 08:53

Rome – English Premiership forwards Mario Balotelli and Luis Suarez face off tomorrow when Italy and Uruguay meet in a high-level friendly international.

Liverpool star Suarez was devastating on Friday, notching all goals in a 4-0 thrashing of Chile to keep the South American champions at the top of their qualifying group for the 2014 World Cup.

Suarez (24) has averaged one goal every other game he played with his national team, for a tally of 26 goals, and aims for the national record of 32 held by Inter Milan’s injured veteran Diego Forlan.

Also on Friday, Balotelli scored his first goal for the Azzurri – a great long-range drive in a 2-0 victory in Poland – and showed a convincing tactical performance.

The 21-year-old has scored five goals for Manchester City in the Premiership, one more than Suarez, and seems set to play a great season with the current league leaders.

Italian fans and media heaped praise on the talented forward, foreseeing his leading role in the Azzurri squad, given the lengthy absences of Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi.

Coach Cesare Prandelli underlined Balotelli’s good moment, without forgetting the criticism he received in recent months for his unruly behaviour on and off the pitch.

“It is important that he values everything and then finds the strength to react in case of difficult times,” said Prandelli, who also congratulated Manchester City’s coach Roberto Mancini for his handling of the young talent.

Before the year’s closing game in the Olympic stadium in the capital, the Azzurri on Sunday scheduled a training session on a pitch in the small village of Rizziconi, in the southern region of Calabria.

Libera, an anti-Mafia organisation, built the facility on a lot that police confiscated from a local Mafia boss and invited the Azzurri to meet the residents.

“We want to help these people against the Mafia, which is something that takes away the freedom to do what you want,” Prandelli said.

“In places like this, the youth are those who suffer. Our message is for them.”

At the Olimpico, Prandelli is set to confirm Balotelli next to one from Giampaolo Pazzini, also on target in Poland, Alessandro Matri and Pablo Osvaldo.

Apart from Suarez, Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez relies on Napoli striker Edinson Cavani, who like Bologna’s Gaston Ramirez and Diego Perez, plus Alvaro Gonzalez of Lazio, are familiar with the Azzurri opponents.

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