Arsenal & Chelsea target Mario Balotelli downplays England chances

England Crowd Two

Italy superstar striker believes England lack the mental edge required to compete in the upcoming FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil.

"I don't look at England as a team that can win the World Cup," said former Manchester City striker Balotelli, matter-of-factly, in a Daily Mail report. "They have some good players, but they are no real rivals for Italy."

Balotelli has been linked with a return to the Premier League, as both Arsenal and Chelsea look to enhance their weaponry up front. The Italian, 23, though, does not see the English national football team faring well at the upcoming FIFA World Cup competition, scheduled to being next month, with Italy tackling England on Saturday, June 14.

"I am not saying that Italy are favourites, but we have the mentality and experienced players to surprise people," said the AC Milan attacker, who doubts the Three Lions possess the bottle required to compete. "I don't think England have that [mental edge]. We have players who have won the World Cup. I don't think England have a player who knows what it is like to play past the quarter-final."

England begin their tournament preparations this evening, Friday, as Roy Hodgson and his roster entertain Peru at Wembley Stadium. 

For the manager's 23-man provisional squad, a blend of youthful enthusiasm and experience and cup tournament nous has been chosen, with fleet-forward forwards such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling, supplemented the midfield guile of Steven Gerrard and the tireless forward engine of Wayne Rooney.

Balotelli continued that, whilst he does not envisage England to progress far in Brazil, they are still worthy of respect: "In the opening game, we have to respect England because it is important to get off to a good start.

"They have maybe two or three players who can hurt us, but we feel well prepared for the tournament and expect to start off with a win."

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