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Mario Balotelli loses starting spot for Italy

Italy v Croatia - Group C: UEFA EURO 2012

POZNAN, POLAND - JUNE 14: Mario Balotelli of Italy looks on during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Italy and Croatia at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Poznan, Poland. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

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You had that sneaking suspicious that man-child Italian striker Mario Balotelli would lose his starting spot at some point, but admit it: You thought it would be for something wacky.

He would completely disrobe in a match, or throw a flying kung fu kick at the fourth officials (or a teammate!), or stop to eat a candy bard or perhaps just stand statue-still in the middle of the field, refusing to move after being shot disapproving glance from the bench – you know, something splashy and outrageous that the Euro gossip rags could make serious hay with.

But this? Something this mundane? It’s all so very ordinary and un-Balotelli.

The young forward’s starting days at Euro 2012 are over because of flagging performance. So says Italy coach Cesare Prandelli who says he wishes the 21-year-old forward well.

“But he needs to improve and this is a change I have to make,” Prandelli says.

“He has huge potential, but he needs to improve. He needs to be more ruthless and pay more attention. These are the areas he needs to improve.”

Of course, Prandelli could have listened to Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, who has said pretty much the same thing. Repeatedly.

ProSoccerTalk is doing its best to keep you up to date on what’s going on in Poland and Ukraine. Check out the site’s Euro 2012 page and look at the site’s previews, predictions, and coverage of all the events defining UEFA’s championship.