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Balotelli: England no rivals

Mario Balotelli does not view England as 'real rivals' for Italy and is not expecting Roy Hodgson's side to be a serious contender to win the World Cup.

England will face Italy in their opening World Cup game in Manaus on June 14 before also tackling Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D.

Italy are favourites to win the group and knocked England out of Euro 2012 on penalties following a 0-0 draw in the quarter-finals.

Former Manchester City striker Balotelli has pointed to Italy's greater experience as a key reason as to why he believes the Azzurri will fare better than England

"I don't look at England as a team that can win the World Cup," said Balotelli in the Daily Mail. "They have some good players, but they are no real rivals for Italy.

"I am not saying that Italy are favourites, but we have the mentality and experienced players to surprise people. I don't think England have that.

"We have players who have won the World Cup. I don't think England have a player who knows what it is like to play past the quarter-final.

"In the opening game, we have to respect England because it is important to get off to a good start.

"They have maybe two or three players who can hurt us, but we feel well prepared for the tournament and expect to start off with a win."