Mario Balotelli will not play in Italy’s Confederations Cup semi-final against Spain after succumbing to a quadriceps injury.
Balotelli injured his left quad in Italy’s 4-2 loss to Brazil on Saturday and has been ruled out of his team’s semi-final, joining Andrea Pirlo and Riccardo Montolivo on the injured list, although the latter two could still prove their fitness for Thursday’s game in Fortaleza.
The confirmation that Balotelli will not play against Spain will be a big blow to Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli, who has started the 22-year-old AC Milan striker in all three group games at the Confederations Cup.
Balotelli has scored two goals for the tournament, while his incredible back-heeled flick set up Emanuele Giaccherini’s strike versus Brazil.
Pirlo missed the Brazil game with the talismanic midfielder struggling with a calf injury, although the 34-year-old Juventus playmaker is expected to prove his fitness in time to play Spain.
Montolivo has had a scan after suffering a blow to head against Brazil but remains a likely option for Prandelli as Italy hope to get revenge in Fortaleza following last year’s 4-0 drubbing from Spain in the semi-finals of Euro 2012.