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Balotelli's lineup spot under threat from Immobile
Italy striker Mario Balotelli no longer a sure starter ahead of World Cup opener
By ANDREW DAMPF
Associated Press
2014-06-10 03:01 AM

MANGARATIBA, Brazil (AP) -- Italy faces England in five days at the World Cup and all of a sudden Mario Balotelli is no longer a sure starter for the Azzurri.

Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne combined for all five goals when Italy beat Brazilian club Fluminense in a World Cup warm-up match Sunday, whereas Balotelli hasn't scored for the national team since October.

Coach Cesare Prandelli said Monday that "clearly we have some healthy competition up front. Everyone has a chance. Whoever doesn't play will have to accept the choices. ... Potentially there could be a lot of stars in this squad."

Two years ago, Balotelli's goals helped Italy reach the final of the European Championship. But the temperamental forward is coming off an inconsistent season with AC Milan, while Immobile led Serie A with 22 goals.

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