Jul 18, 2011; Vancouver, BC, CANADA; Manchester City FC forward Mario Balotelli (45) and Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder Nizar Khalfan (16) chase after the ball during the second half at Empire Field. The Manchester City FC won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Italy’s Mario Balotelli Ruled Out of Spain Match

Mario Balotelli has frequently been a lightning rod for the Italian squad, most recently in the Confederations Cup. With a semi-final match up with European rivals Spain, they could use the electric goal scorer. However, Balotelli has been ruled out because of a thigh injury.

The Italian Football Federation made the announcement after a series of medical tests on Balotelli’s left quadricep. Italy lost to Brazil 4-2 this past Saturday.

While many don’t think Italy will be able to get past Spain, with Balotelli, they definitely seem like a long shot without the striker. However the Italian Football Federation did not say whether Balotelli could play in the Confederation Cup final should Italy beat Spain.

Balotelli has scored several times this tournament. He scored the game winner against Mexico, scored from the penalty spot against Japan and he set up a goal against Brazil for Emanuel Giaccherini.

Balotelli has scored 10 goals for Italy in 24 appearances. That has him sitting 25 goals shy of the record and time is on the 22 year old’s side to beat that record.

Caesar Prandelli will likely switch from a 4-3-2-1 to a 3-5-2 to make up for Balotelli’s absence. Bologna’s Alberto Gilardino and AC Milan’s Stephan El Shaarawy are likely candidates for Italy’s front line.

Italy and Spain play Thursday at 2:30 EST on ESPN.

Tags: Italy Mario Balotelli Spain