Balotelli Axed from Italy Squad

Mario Balotelli has been left out of Italy’s 23-man squad to face Portugal after criticism of his performance in the Azzurri’s 1-1 draw with Poland on Friday.

Italy coach Roberto Mancini admitted the Nice striker did not play well against Poland and said “his fitness levels are an issue right now” before omitting Balotelli from his squad for Monday’s match – his second competitive game in charge of the national team.

Former Juventus and Roma player Zbigniew Boniek accused Balotelli of being “15 kilos overweight” after his performance against Poland, which ended when he was replaced by Torino striker Andrea Belotti after 62 minutes at Stadio Renato Dall’Ara.

Also, there’s no place in Mancini’s squad for Davide Zappacosta, Lorenzo Pellegrini or Cristiano Biraghi, all of whom started the game against Poland.

Alessio Cragno, Daniele Rugani and Nicolo Zaniolo have also been left out of Italy’s squad for the Nations League clash in Lisbon.

Mancini had promised to reignite Italy’s love for football after their failure to qualify for the World Cup.

And the Azzurri look a work in progress after their drab 1-1- draw with Poland last week.

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