Lescott confident of winning Balotelli duel
KRAKOW, Poland: England defender Joleon Lescott is determined to quell the threat of Italy striker Mario Balotelli when he comes up against his Manchester City team-mate on Sunday.
Lescott, who has established himself as a centre-half of genuine authority since winning a place in England’s starting line-up, is under no illusions about the size of the task in front of him in the quarter-finals.
The volatile Italian scored a superb goal from the bench against Ireland in his last outing, and Lescott knows that one slip against the powerfully built striker could be fatal to English hopes.
“Coming up against Mario’s going to be a tough task,” Lescott said. “We know the quality he possesses. At any time he can create something.
“He’s quick, he’s strong, he can create something out of nothing, similar to the other world-class strikers at the tournament. He came on (against Ireland) and changed the game. He got his goal, which is a great reward for him.”
Another of Balotelli’s City team-mates, midfielder James Milner, said he expects Lescott and the rest of England’s defence to shackle the Italian.
Lescott and centre-half partner John Terry were immense as Ukraine laid siege to England’s goal on Tuesday, a fact that augurs well for the challenge of the Azzurri said Milner.
“Joleon has been playing like that all season for City but now he is doing it for England as well. He knows Mario well, trains with him every day so I’m sure he will keep him quiet,” he said.
“We’ve seen Mario, he is a different player, he’s going to cause you problems. He is very strong, shooting-wise he can cause problems, he is tricky, a clever player as well,” Milner said.
“He is a danger. There are two Marios. There is one who turns up sometimes in training and it is a bit cold and he is not too interested.
“The other time he really wants it, as I’m sure he will against England, and he is a special talent.
“He is a top player and we know that. I’m sure he will be at the top of his game.”
Meanwhile veteran Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi admits Balotelli was a “risky” kind of player but said he believed the striker was still maturing.
“He’s a risk up to a certain point because we talked a lot about Balotelli. He’s a great player and if he wants to grow, he knows he has to react to this situation. He’s kind of used to this situation,” De Rossi said.