Italians are puzzled but retain faith in Balotelli

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Italy midfielder Daniele de Rossi has backed controversial team-mate Mario Balotelli – even though coach Cesare Prandelli admits he has no idea what goes on in the striker’s head.

Balotelli took a nerveless penalty in Sunday’s Euro 2012 shoot-out win over England. Prior to that, he had failed to take a succession of chances, after enlivening the pre-match press conference with his rather bizarre statement: “I’m more of a man than Peter Pan.”

The Manchester City forward seems certain to retain his place for tonight’s semi-final against Germany in Warsaw.

But, rather like City boss Roberto Mancini who has said in the past there is no point talking to Balotelli because he does not listen, Prandelli is not going to try any amateur psychology on the 21-year-old.

“I have no real problem with him,” said Prandelli. “It is trying to work out what goes on in the head of a 21-year-old young man.

“In terms of his behaviour, mentality and psychology, he has changed radically with us.

“There are no problems with communication. I’m just curious to see what he is feeling, what sacrifices he is prepared to make to become a great footballer.”

Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, meanwhile, has confirmed he will be fit to face Italy. The Bayern Munich man complained of a sore ankle after the last-eight win over Greece.

However, he has shrugged off the problem and will take his place in the German side aiming to record their first competitive win over Italy.

“I am 100 per cent fit and very much looking forward to the game,” he said. “I have trained twice fully and I feel good.”

Coach Joachim Low is expected to bring back Arsenal newcomer Lukas Podolski, Thomas Muller and tournament top scorer Mario Gomez.