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Mario Balotelli handed Italy recall – and can ruin Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup dream


The divisive former Manchester City forward has been named in the Italian national side for their upcoming World Cup qualifying clashes against North Macedonia and potentially Portgual

Mario Balotelli last featured for Italy in 2018 during a Nations League draw against Poland

Mario Balotelli has been named in the Italy national squad for the first time since 2018 as the Azzurri prepare for a pivotal international break that will determine their World Cup qualification status.

Balotelli spent years under current national team boss Roberto Mancini while the pair were both at Premier League titans Manchester City, memorably winning the title together in the most dramatic fashion.

They also worked together at Serie A giants Inter Milan beforehand and Balotelli’s common temper tantrums have clearly not rubbed Mancini up the wrong way.

The 31-year-old has become somewhat of a journeyman striker in recent years and currently plies his trade with Adana Demirspor in Turkey but has clearly impressed and earned his Italy call-up as a result.

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HAVE YOUR SAY! Is Balotelli deserving of his call-up to the Italy national side? Comment below

Roberto Mancini has selected Mario Balotelli for the Italy national side once again

Balotelli has looked someway back to his best with Demirspor and has registered nine goals and four assists in 21 appearances across all competitions.

Mancini has overseen great success as Italy boss and was at the helm for their Euro 2020 success last summer after defeating England on penalties at Wembley Stadium.

However, their attempts to confirm their place in Qatar for the World Cup later this year have proved far more difficult and there is every chance the reigning European Championship holders could miss out on the tournament altogether.

They have been drawn against North Macedonia and providing they get the job done against the Eastern Europeans Balotelli will face off against current Manchester resident Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Portugal’s dramatic 2-1 home defeat by Serbia ensured Fernando Santos’ men will also drop down into the play-off rat race as they too try to book their place in Qatar.

Ronaldo is desperate to add a World Cup gong to his staggering trophy cabinet that includes Euro 2016 after Portugal toppled France in Paris.

Balotelli and Co. would not have home advantage were they to beat North Macedonia and Portugal beat Turkey.

Should Italy lose either clash, it would mark the second World Cup in a row they have failed to qualify for after missing out on Russia in 2018.

Mario Balotelli last featured for Italy in 2018 during a Nations League draw against Poland

Any minutes for Balotelli in either game will spell the end of an exile from the international set-up that has lasted over three years, with the striker’s last minutes for his country coming in a 1-1 draw against Poland in the 2018 UEFA Nations League.

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His previous outings with his country have proven he can be a man for the big occasion.

Balotelli’s brace against Germany a decade ago remains one of the most iconic moments in European Championship history.

The former AC Milan striker will need to recapture that kind of form to give himself a chance of being on that plane to Qatar in November.

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