The Netherlands coach has stressed that both AC Milan attackers could cause Oranje problems, and has nothing but praise for promising youngster Adam Maher
The 61-year-old is full of praise for the former Manchester City attacker, but believes that his current AC Milan team-mate is just as dangerous in front of goal, if not more so.
"Balotelli is an excellent striker. They way in which his team-mates are always trying to reach him is proof of this. He hardly ever loses the ball," Van Gaal told reporters.
"We have to remain very cautious, though. El Shaarawy is perhaps an even bigger threat than Balotelli."
Van Gaal then went on to praise Netherlands youngster Adam Maher, who is expected to feature from the start against the Azzurri.
"Maher will have to bring creativity to the table. He is on par with Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart in my opinion. It's now up to him to prove that's indeed the case."
Wednesday's match at the Amsterdam ArenA is scheduled to kick off at 20:30CET.