Roberto Mancini's mother questions decision to leave out Mario Balotelli 4 months ago

Roberto Mancini's mother questions decision to leave out Mario Balotelli

'I would have called up Balotelli, because he has incredible physical strength'

Roberto Mancini's mother Marianna Puolo believes her son made a mistake when he didn't select Mario Balotelli for Italy's World Cup play-off clash with North Macedonia on Thursday.

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The Azzurri suffered a shock 1-0 defeat in Palermo, with Aleksandar Trajkovski bagging an injury-time winner to ensure Italy missed out on their second successive World Cup.

Former Manchester City boss Mancini opted to use Ciro Immobile as his lone striker before introducing Joao Pedro late on in the tie. However, while the reigning European champions recorded 32 shots on goal, they were unable to break down North Macedonia.

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Now, Puolo thinks that things could have been different if Balotelli had been picked for the crucial match.

"I would have called up Balotelli, because he has incredible physical strength and in front of the goal nobody can stop him," she told Radiouno, as quoted by Football Italia.

Balotelli - who has netted 12 goals for Turkish side Adana Demirspor this season - was overlooked by Mancini and has not played for Italy since September 2018.

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Roberto Mancini Balotelli

Jorginho criticised for three consecutive penalty misses

Puolo also suggested that the Azzurri should have secured their place at the World Cup before the play-offs.

Mancini's mother made reference to Chelsea midfielder Jorginho's three consecutive penalty misses last year, with the latter two - which came against Switzerland in World Cup qualifying - coming back to haunt the side.

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She added: "Unfortunately, mistakes like Jorginho’s cost us. I don’t want to point my finger at him because he certainly didn’t do it on purpose, but if you miss three penalties."

Puolo then questioned the role of goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma for Trajkovski's goal, suggesting that the Paris Saint-Germain man could have done better.

"Macedonia only had one shot, maybe Donnarumma could’ve saved it but it’s useless to talk about it now," she said.

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