Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has stated he thinks controversial striker Mario Balotelli should start Italy's quarterfinal against England on Sunday. The Italian boss believes Italy are stronger with Balotelli on the field.

The 47 year old City manager believes Balotelli, who scored after coming on as a substitute during Italy's group stage fixture against the Republic of Ireland, has the ability to change the game at a moment's notice as he is one of "the best" players in the world.

"Mario should always play. He is the best and, with him, the national team is much stronger. If you look at the other day, he came on, made an impact in the game and scored a splendid goal," Mancini was quoted by ESPN as saying.

"I don't want to steal [Cesare] Prandelli's job, because he is doing very well, but I consider Mario the best Italian striker. Mario is a champion - and champions help you to win things," he added. Mancini's words were echoed by City and England goal keeper Joe Hart, who was quoted in an earlier IBTimes UK report.

Balotelli has a well-documented history of disciplinary problems both on and off the field. However, Massimo Moratti, the president of the player's former club Inter Milan, said people ought not to try and change the 21 year old and should learn to accept him the way he is.

"I have an idea of what he is like because I have known Mario since he was a boy. He has a wonderful family, who adore him and protect him, and he repays that affection. But there is something in him that makes him distrustful of everyone, even those that appreciate him. You have to take him as he is without pretending to want to change him," the Daily Mail quoted Moratti as saying.

Meanwhile, when discussing England's chances, Mancini said the credit for the team's organised and disciplined performances should go to former boss Fabio Capello.

"You can see the work of a good and experienced coach like Capello is in this team. England wait for their opponents and hit them on the counter-attack. This is the kind of football that we Italians were masters at for a long time," he explained, according to ESPN.