If there’s one man who can coax the world out of Mario Balotelli, it is Italy coach Cesare Prandelli. Every bad-boy needs a reformist and a believer – a little bit of both – and Prandelli promptly stands in the middle.

After scoring the winner for Italy in their opening 2-1 win against an inspiring England side which proved that they were capable of slick passing and pace, Balotelli was keen to show that he had arrived for the world tournament. Of course, fans of the Azzurri were sure to carry along a cardboard cut-out of their beloved striker for all to see in Manaus yesterday. They’ll presumably be hoping to carry it with them to the finals, no?

I think he could do a lot more. I told him before coming out on stage, he could do a lot more, said Prandelli. His potential is enormous. He has to be persuaded that the striker moves to finalise actions and passes. He has to give it his all and perform as he did tonight in future games.



It’s no secret that Spain (and the Spanish press) are in tatters over their 5-1 defeat to Holland two days ago in a mauling dubbed as the real “Spanish Inquisition”.

In a press conference earlier today by the Spanish national team, Chelsea’s new import, Cesc Fabregas, declared that it was one of the “worst moments” of his career with the national team in the past six years. To be fair, the Dutch put up one of the most convincing performances to avenge their World Cup final loss four years ago. Surely, the pain of that evening in South Africa must have been somewhat alleviated with the result.

Fabregas said : “This team has great character and courage, and has always dealt with tough times in the face, and this is one of them. It is perhaps the worst moment in the past six years but I trust very much in this selection. This time, we won’t do any less, we will try to get six points and to qualify. “

Spain’s next match against Chile has been acknowledged to be particularly crucial, and Fabregas added : “Let’s go out and give everything to win, which is the only option we have. It’s a game of life and death, win-win. Otherwise, we know that we go home. It is a meeting of brutal transcendence but I say that you can not give up.”

Copa do Mundo 2014 - Brasil x Crocia

After a series of refereeing blunders, as seen in Group A (Fred’s supposed non-penalty for Brazil, Dos Santos’ two offside goals against Cameroon), the possibility of video referees being introduced for Euro 2016 looks to be a near-requirement.

This would allow referees to have access to replays (immediately) to make a better call on whether a goal is offside or a player has acted in a certain way to induce the referee to give a penalty. Although both goal-line technology and our favourite – the vanishing spray – are new additions being used at this year’s tournament, it almost seems secondary to the need for video replays (or at least of equal importance to GL-technology).

FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, who is standing again for presidency next year, is also hoping to use video replay technology as part of his plans to appear more progressive.