Suarez: Italy still a threat without Balotelli

The Azzurri lost their star forward to injury at the end of the group stages but the Liverpool hitman feels Cesare Prandelli has a number of worthy replacements to choose from
Luis Suarez says Italy can "hurt" Uruguay in Sunday's Confederations Cup third-place decider even without star striker Mario Balotelli.

The AC Milan attacker has returned to Italy, having been ruled out of the tournament with an injury sustained in the group stage defeat by hosts Brazil.

The Azzurri missed Balotelli in their semi-final shoot-out defeat by Spain on Thursday, but Suarez says Cesare Prandelli's men still have more than enough firepower in reserve.

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"Even if they do not have Balotelli, there are a lot of players of the same quality, like [Sebastian] Giovinco," the Liverpool hitman told Globoesporte.

"Besides, Italy are always the same. They love to exploit the space left by opponents. If we do not play a great game, they can hurt us."

Suarez strengthened his argument by citing the way in which Italy came from behind to beat Japan 4-3 in an epic encounter in the group stages.

"We should not be surprised that they did that," he said. "Italy are a team that you have to put away when you have the chance; otherwise they will always find a way to come back."

Suarez admitted Uruguay's primary concern is making sure they are back in Brazil next summer for the World Cup, but insisted that they intend on finishing their Confederations Cup campaign on a high.

"Getting third would be very important for us , even if we are also already thinking of the qualifiers," the 26-year-old added.