sport

Mario urged to make his mark

Italy boss Cesare Prandelli believes the World Cup in Brazil provides the perfect chance for Mario Balotelli to make his mark.

The AC Milan striker did not feature in the 2010 tournament - making his international debut a month later - but he starred as Italy reached the final of Euro 2012 with three goals to his name.

After an often controversial two-and-a-half years in England with Manchester City, Balotelli made the switch to Milan last summer and impressed on his return to Serie A as he found the net 14 times.

The 23-year-old is likely to lead the line for Italy in their Group D opener against England and Prandelli has urged him to be ready to shine on the big stage.

"Balotelli is an important player for the national team, like a lot of others. But he must come to the World Cup fully prepared," said Prandelli.

"He would do well to listen to his AC Milan manager Clarence Seedorf and channel the emotions he is feeling into something positive on the pitch.

"He knows the World Cup can be the opportunity of a lifetime for a footballer."