The 22-year-old has been forced to return to Italy and undergo treatment as a thigh injury brings his tournament to an early end.
It was already announced that the striker would be unavailable for the semifinal vs. Spain, but after a day of having the injury monitored, Balotelli is being sent home to recover. If Italy is to exact revenge on Spain for its 4-0 defeat in the Euro 2012 final and reach the title game, he would not be available.
The Milan striker, who leads Italy with two goals in the tournament, suffered the injury in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Brazil. According to team doctor Enrico Castellacci, it was serious enough to cut his tournament short.
“Balotelli can not even get to the final,” Castellacci told reporters. “Milan will now take care of him.”
The news comes as a big blow to the Italians, who were using Balotelli as their lone striker throughout the group stage. Bologna’s Alberto Gilardino is the only other pure striker on the team, while wingers Stephan El Shaarawy and Sebastian Giovinco are also on the roster.
Coach Cesare Prandelli laments the loss, but knows Italy has to move forward and remain focused if it hopes to take out the defending World Cup and European champions.
“We are very sorry for the loss of Balotelli, but there was no time for his recovery,” Prandelli told reporters. “There was no pressure from the Rossoneri [to keep him out and prevent further injury].”