x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Euro 2012: Defeat by Spain will make Mario Balotelli a better player, insists Italy coach Prandelli

The Italian national coach believes the loss will strengthen the Manchester City star's resolve after watching his side lose 4-0 to Spain in the final.

A dejected Mario Balotelli sits alone on the Kiev turf after Italy's defeat in the Euro 2012 final to Spain
A dejected Mario Balotelli sits alone on the Kiev turf after Italy's defeat in the Euro 2012 final to Spain

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli believes Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli will emerge a stronger character after the experience of a Euro 2012 final hammering by Spain.

The Azzurri conceded twice in each half as they were overpowered by the defending champions in Kiev.

It left Balotelli shattered after he had gone into the game with such high hopes.

The Manchester City man stormed straight down the tunnel at the final whistle, and angrily shrugged off the attempts of Italian officials to stop him.

Balotelli eventually returned to collect his medal.

"I told Mario that these are experiences you have to deal with and have to accept," said Prandelli.

"You have to hold your hands up and say the opponents were better, accept defeat.

"But you also have to make sure this helps you going forward and you can grow from the experience.

"This has happened to a number of players, and will happen again, but this is what sport is all about."

Strangely, Italy enjoyed the majority of possession in the first-half but still found themselves two goals down through David Silva and Jordi Alba.

However, an injury to their final substitute, Thiago Motta, within four minutes of his introduction, forced Italy to complete the final half-hour with 10 men.

And, in their third game in a week, which included that draining period of extra-time against England, it was too much.

"We've had a terrific European Championship and the only regret is the fact we didn't have a few extra days to rest up before this game," said Prandelli.

The Italy manager confirmed both Motta and Giorgio Chiellini, who had to be replaced in the first-half, had both suffered hamstring injuries.

Meanwhile Azzurri captain Gianluigi Buffon was magnanimous in defeat.

"Tonight, there was no contest, they were too superior - so the bitterness at losing this final is only relative," he said after the game.

"It was a great adventure. In a final, you have to win but today we played against a team of incredible quality."

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