Former Manchester City and current Adana Demirspor striker Mario Balotelli has asserted that he might have made the difference for Italy during their decisive playoff game against North Macedonia. Italy failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup after suffering a 1-0 defeat in the qualifiers.
Italy hosted North Macedonia in Palermo in their crucial play-off semi-final match but the Euro 2020 champions suffered a stunning upset as the away side secured a 1-0 victory last Thursday.
The Azzurri had an incredible 32 shots at goal, to North Macedonia's four but couldn't find a breakthrough. Aleksandar Trajkovski became the hero for his nation as he finished emphatically in the dying minutes of regulation time to secure a shock win.
The defeat means that Italy will miss out on the World Cup for the second successive tournament. Italy has struggled to stamp their authority in front of goal since their Euro 2020 victory as they have only scored more than one goal once since the victory over England at Wembley.
Mario Balotelli who worked under Roberto Mancini at Manchester City last played for his nation in 2018 although he insisted that he could have made a difference for his country in front of goal. The Italian also admitted that he is happy that Mancini is staying on as the nation’s manager.
"I'm always missed when we lose. It's easy to say it now but before the match no one thought about me. I watched the match and there were were opportunities. In front of goal I'm pretty good and I'm not saying we would have won if I had been playing but there were opportunities to score,” Balotelli told Sky Sports Italia.
"I haven't spoken to him, but I have a great relationship with the manager and am so happy he is staying, especially as, in just a few years as manager he is already a European champion. Mancini has done a great job. He deserves to continue and I am happy he is staying,” he added.