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Sport Balotelli's fitness in doubt for Italy's Nations League clash with Portugal

20:30  08 september  2018
20:30  08 september  2018 Source:   thescore.com

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Italy forward Balotelli in doubt for Portugal game 08 September 2018 - 18H20 © AFP | ' Fitness concerns' - Mario Balotelli doubt for Italy ' s second Nations

a man holding a ball© Valerio Pennicino / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Milan - Mario Balotelli is in doubt to play Italy's second Nations League game against Portugal in Lisbon on Monday, according to press reports on Saturday.

The Nice forward was heavily criticized for his performance in his first competitive game for Italy since the 2014 World Cup, a 1-1 draw against Poland on Friday.

Balotelli limped off after an hour before Chelsea midfielder Jorginho rescued a point for the Azzurri in Bologna.

And the 28-year-old forward did not take part in a full training session on Saturday after undergoing tests.

Mancini confirmed he was struggling for fitness, with the forward applying an ice pack to his thigh after being substituted on Friday.

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Mario Balotelli is in doubt to play Italy ' s second Nations League game against Portugal in Lisbon Balotelli limped off after an hour before Chelsea midfielder Jorginho rescued a point for the Azzurri in "His fitness levels are an issue right now," Mancini told Rai Sport. Balotelli has been short of

Nice striker Balotelli came under fire for his performance in their Nations League opener against Poland The 28-year-old was substituted with a muscular problem, with Mancini conceding his fitness level But Balotelli has made the trip to Portugal with the squad as Mancini considers him to be a

"His fitness levels are an issue right now,"Mancini told Rai Sport.

Balotelli has been short of match time as a result of a contract dispute with Ligue 1 club Nice after a planned move to Marseille failed to materialise.

"I will have to talk to him a lot and he must improve a lot," said Mancini.

"Mario has to find form.

"I'm just disappointed because we didn't win, not disappointed in any player."

Mancini, Balotelli's former manager at Inter Milan and Manchester City, recalled the striker after taking over as national coach last May.

Balotelli played in three friendlies in June, scoring in a 2-1 friendly win over Saudi Arabia.

Mancini said he would make some changes for the trip to Portugal as he continues to rebuild Italy after their World Cup qualifying fiasco.

"We need to get a better result than this," added Mancini.

"We could well change the system too, just like a few players."

Meanwhile, Alessandro Costacurta, the Italian Football Federation vice-commissioner, praised what Mancini was achieving.

"Since Roberto arrived, there has been growing enthusiasm and he brought a great breath of fresh air after a difficult period.

"As Mancini said yesterday (Friday), everyone must have more courage to perhaps give Balotelli better service and then he can deliver the goals."

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Belgium and World Cup winners France make FIFA rankings history .
Two victories for Belgium in September saw them join France at the summit of the FIFA rankings - the first time top spot has been shared.Roberto Martinez's side, defeated by Les Bleus in the semi-finals at Russia 2018 before claiming third place, overcame Scotland 4-0 in a friendly and won their Nations League debut 3-0 against Iceland earlier this month to join the world champions at the summit.

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