Italy team-mate: Balotelli must 'do what the coach asks of him'

Italy Celebrate Balotelli Goal

Leonardo Bonucci has been speaking about Liverpool newbie Mario Balotelli.

Italy defeated Norway 2-0 last night in a Euro 2016 qualifier, in the first game of Antonio Conte's reign as manager.

And they did so without £16 million Liverpool newbie Mario Balotelli. The summer signing from AC Milan was suspended for tonight's game so Conte decided not to call him up for international duty. There are also rumours that Conte would have made that decision anyway - as he is reportedly not a fan of Balotelli's current attitude toward the Azzurri.

The bad news for Balotelli is that his replacement has not done bad. Simone Zaza of Sassuolo had a good debut against The Netherlands last week. Tonight things got even better.

Zaza scored the opening goal of the game and has certainly adapted well to being the new starting striker for his country.

And now Balotelli has been warned by a fellow international team-mate that his place is not waiting for him - he will have to fight for it.

Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci told Italian media after the game:

“Mario will certainly have seen the games. If he does what the coach asks of him, then he can be a reference point for this Nazionale. The problem is he needs to understand to play for the Nazionale you have to work all together, run together and move constantly.

“We’ve never had a problem with Mario. We know what his personality is like and during the World Cup I tried talking to him, but we know his character is his Achilles heel. It can make him strong and weak at the same time.”

Balotelli came under widespread criticism after the World Cup this summer for his seemingly listless attitude to playing for his country, and Conte has certainly used his suspension to send a message.

Luckily for Mario an equally as divisive striker in Dani Osvaldo is likely to lose his place to the Liverpool striker for the next set of qualifiers. But as for starting for his country ... Mario may have to wait a little.

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