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The AC Milan star insists the Azzurri will challenge next summer after his penalty against Czech Republic secured their place in Brazil

Mario Balotelli claims teams should be scared of facing Italy at next summer's World Cup.

The Azzurri confirmed their place in the 2014 finals with a 2-1 in over Czech Republic on Tuesday, with Balotelli scoring the winner from the penalty spot, and the AC Milan star is bullish about his side's chances in Brazil.

"I think we're among the favourites." the 23-year-old told RAI Sport after the match.

"There are one or two teams above us, but they should fear us, not the other way around."

Libor Kozak had given the Czechs a surprise 19th-minute lead at Juventus Stadium, with the hosts contributing to their own downfall with some wayward finishing.

Balotelli was the prime culprit, crashing one shot against the crossbar, blazing wildly over when played through and failing to beat Petr Cech when one-on-one multiple times.

And despite finally getting on the scoresheet, the former Inter youngster admits it was not his most clinical showing.

"Missing that many chances has never happened to me before," he said.

"When Cech parried that shot I thought he would get it if I fired low, so I tried to raise the finish and went too high.

"I was unlucky, but I just kept trying until the end."

Italy now have an unassailable seven-point lead over Bulgaria at the top of Group B, and they join Netherlands as Europe's first guaranteed representatives at next summer's tournament.

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