Jun 24, 2013, 10:08 AM EST
The Confederations Cup semi-final match-up between Spain and Italy just lost more of its gloss as Mario Balotelli has been ruled out of the clash with a thigh problem.
The Italian Football Federation made the announcement following a series of medical tests on Balotelli’s left quadriceps following Italy’s 4-2 loss to Brazil on Saturday.
The federation stopped short of saying that Super Mario was done for the tournament, claiming they would continue to monitor his status in the hope that he could return for the Azzurri’s next match – either the final or the third-place game. If Italy are defeated by Spain on Thursday, one can expect that Balotelli will not be risked in a third place match.
Balotelli has enjoyed a strong showing in the World Cup warm-up tournament, powering home the match-winner against Mexico, scoring a penalty in the 4-3 win over Japan and setting up Emanuel Giaccherini’s goal in the 4-2 loss to Brazil.
Balotelli’s injury adds to Italy’s injury woes as Ignazio Abate was sent home after separating his shoulder and midfielder Ricardo Montolivo is out after suffering a head injury against Brazil. Andrea Pirlo, who was sidelined from the Brazil match with a muscle problem, faces a late fitness test to see if he’ll be ready for the Spain clash.
With Balo out, expect Cesar Prandelli to switch from a 4-3-2-1 to a 3-5-2. Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini will play as the back three and Christian Maggio and Emanuele Giaccherini will line up as wing-backs while Bologna’s Alberto Gilardino and AC Milan’s Stephan El Shaarawy are the likely candidates to lead the front line.
Italy and Spain kickoff this Thursday at 2:30pm EST on ESPN.
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Dec 7, 2013, 9:28 PM EST
A few take-aways from Sporting Kansas City’s side on the clubs’ MLS Cup triumph Saturday over Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park:
Dec 7, 2013, 9:01 PM EST
Both coaches said so after Saturday’s exciting match:
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Sporting Kansas City’s center back scored a goal in the run of play and then nailed a beauty of a penalty kick:
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KANSAS CITY – After 10 rounds of penalty kicks, Major League Soccer has a 2013 champion.
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NBC’s Arlo White and Graeme Le Saux break down Manchester City’s tie with Southampton on Saturday:
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What a huge days for the Potters; hear what the club’s U.S. international right back has to say about it:
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Obviously, this is also the coldest kickoff for an MLS championship match … by a long, long way, in fact:
Dec 7, 2013, 3:40 PM EST
RSL’s two injury doubts are ready, while Sporting rolls with the XI that got them to MLS Cup 2013.
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