Buffon: Balotelli is not treated unfairly

The Italy international does not believe the striker is subject to prejudice from referees and warns that the Azzurri will be up for the fight in Brazil next summer

Gianluigi Buffon does not believe that there is any prejudice from officials towards Mario Balotelli, insisting the striker is not a victim of refereeing decisions.

The Italy star felt aggrieved at the lack of protection afforded by referee Olegario Benquerenca in Friday’s 1-1 draw with Germany, but Buffon has made it clear the AC Milan star must not consider himself harshly treated as officials attempt to keep the game moving.

“I see no prejudice against Mario,” the 35-year-old told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“It’s just that now the way games are refereed has changed to prevent them becoming bogged down. Referees tend to whistle less and let the play run more – and I agree with that.”

Italy will not be among the top seeds when the draw for the World Cup group stages takes place on December 6, but Buffon believes the Azzurri proved they are a team to be feared with their display against Germany.

“We might not be the strongest but we can endure as much as anyone,” the Juventus shot-stopper added.

“We’ve just drawn a type of game that others would lose. You will see the real Italy in Brazil – the problem will be for those who will have to deal with us, not the other way around.”

Italy continue their preparations for Brazil 2014 with a friendly against Nigeria, who themselves have secured a World Cup berth, at Fulham’s Craven Cottage on Monday.

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