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Confirmed: Super Mario Out

It has been confirmed that Mario Balotelli will not play in Italy’s Confederations Cup semi-final against Spain on Thursday.

The exciting AC Milan striker injured his thigh during the Azzurri’s 4-2 group stage defeat against Brazil at the weekend, and will not recover in time to face competition favourites Spain.

"The examinations carried out this afternoon in Fortaleza on Mario Balotelli showed a grade-one tear in the quadriceps muscle of the left leg," the Italian Football Federation said statement on Sunday night.

"The player will not be available for the semi-final against Spain on Thursday, June 27 and in the coming days his condition will be evaluated for the match on the 30th (either the final or third-place play-off)."

Balotelli’s injury is a major blow to Cesare Prandelli’s team’s hopes of reaching the Confed Cup final.

He has been one of his nation’s most explosive players, leading their line with aplomb and cementing his status as Italy’s form centre-forward with two goals in the competition so far.

With Balotelli out, Italy will now anxiously await the fitness reports regarding injured midfield talisman Andrea Pirlo, who missed the defeat to Brazil with a sore calf.

Without two of their best outfield players, Italy will be major underdogs against La Furia Roja, who have alternatively steamrolled and strolled their way into the last-four, ahead of the highly anticipated defence of their World Cup crown next year.

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