sport

Mario wants kiss from Queen

Italy striker Mario Balotelli says he wants a 'kiss on the cheek' from the Queen if his team beat Costa Rica on Friday.

England need the Italians to beat Costa Rica if they are to avoid an exit from the World Cup at the group stage for the first time in 56 years.

They would also need Italy to beat Uruguay and to record a win over Costa Rica themselves in the final round of Group D fixtures on Tuesday.

A draw would also send Roy Hodgson's squad home before the round of 16, but Balotelli is typically confident his team will secure the victory that takes them into the knockout stages, and wants a unique reward should they do so.

"If we beat Costa Rica I want a kiss, obviously on the cheek, from the UK Queen," the former Manchester City striker wrote on Twitter.

Balotelli scored the winning goal for Italy in their opening win over England in Manaus and is confident he can add to his international tally of 13 as the Azzurri mount their World Cup challenge.

"I'm feeling very calm at this moment and I don't feel under any pressure at all," he said. "I would like to go as far as possible in this World Cup.

"My personal aim is to score as many goals as possible but the most important thing is that the team plays well and advances."

Balotelli, who scored 19 goals in 41 games for AC Milan this season and has been linked with a move to Arsenal, but he insists he is not going to talk about his future until he has finished at the World Cup.

"About my future or the transfer market I know nothing. We will see what will be after the World Cup," he said.

One thing that is for sure, is that Balotelli will start up front for Italy against Costa Rica.

Ciro Immobile's record of 22 goals in 33 Torino appearances means he is putting pressure on Balotelli but Italy manager Cesare Prandelli is unlikely to look beyond the Milan man.

Prandelli said: "If I look at the past four years with Mario, there were times when he was the weapon, the player who could take us to the moon.

"It is important that he concentrates and that he does what he did in the last game, not so much the goal but the contribution he made.

"If he can do that for 90 minutes then great, if not we have someone just as good and as fresh."