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The Brazil striker’s form and work ethic plummeted through his career, but the Azzurri boss is adamant that the AC Milan forward will avoid his fate

Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli believes that Mario Balotelli will avoid a career-plummet such as Brazilian striker Adriano suffered as he wants to be the best in the world.

The Azzurri forward has scored seven goals in six Serie A games for AC Milan since joining at the end of January from Manchester City, quietening those who suggested he would falter back in Italy.

His departure from the Premier League has pleased Prandelli, who thinks that comparisons with Adriano - whose work ethic began to be questioned in 2005 at the age of 23 and has continued to present day - are unfair to Balotelli.

“The advantage for my Italy side is that by playing at Milan he [Balotelli] can train with another four internationals,” continued Prandelli.

“Is he like Adriano? In the two years I worked with Adriano at Parma, he was very motivated. He was one of the best players I ever trained. It’s a shame he settled with what he had already done.

“Mario has more pride than Adriano and really wants to prove he is one of the best in the world.”

Brazil head into the match on the back of a friendly defeat to England earlier in 2013 under new boss Luiz Felipe Scolari, but Prandelli waved away suggestions that the Selecao are the underdogs in Geneva.

“It seems an exaggeration to say we are favourites,” Prandelli continued. “Yes, they are seeking their identity, but they have never lost that spirit.

“They have extraordinary quality and their own style of football. We are not the favourites, but we hope to make life difficult for them tomorrow.

“Brazil are seeking the right team for the World Cup and this is a generational change. They will be prepared for the tournament as hosts.

“Neymar is one of the best modern strikers in world football. He combines technique and quality with the ability to change tempo as he runs. He can attack the defensive line even without a partner.”

The last time the two teams met was in 2010 when the Azzurri were thrashed 3-0 by Brazil in the Confederations Cup, however the former Fiorentina boss insisted that the Euro 2012 finalists have improved hugely since that defeat.

“Italy have changed a lot since then,” argued Prandelli. “We try to unite the experience of [Gianluigi] Buffon, Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi with some younger prospects of quality.

“We play as a team and not as individuals. The Euros were positive and we must continue along that path.

“Tomorrow’s game will also help us in terms of experience to prepare for the [2013] Confederations Cup group match.”

Kick-off between two of the giants of world football is at 20:30CET on Thursday.

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