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Hart Warns Against Balotelli Threat

England goalkeeper Joe Hart has claimed that the team should not take the threat from former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli lightly in the opening match of the World Cup 2014. England will be taking on Italy in this group match. The heavyweight clash promises to be an entertaining encounter, but both teams have had difficult warm-up friendlies. They have failed to win most of their matches and England’s defence has especially come under criticism.

Many have put England as the third favourites to qualify from group that includes Italy and Uruguay. Some of the England players like Hart and Gary Cahill have been keen to prove those opinions wrong. However, they are aware that England need to get three points from their opening match if they are to get past the group stages. In order to do so, they need to nullify the threat from Balotelli, who is regarded as one of the talented strikers the world. The former City man almost single-handedly helped Italy reach the final of the Euro 2012.

He comes off the back of a good campaign with AC Milan – despite the struggles by the club – in which he scored almost 20 goals in the league. Cahill has also said that Balotelli will be a major threat.

"Mario is an unpredictable player. I have played against him when he has done well, I have played against him when he has been brought off after 60 minutes. Rio Ferdinand and John Terry came out of the team at virtually the same time and left a big void. There were a lot of questions asked - maybe there still are. Am I bothered? No. But I have really enjoyed playing with Phil. He is a fantastic player. Individually we know we are doing the right things," said Cahill.