The Everton captain is confident that restricting the AC Milan striker’s space can help neutralise him, before backing video analysis to help the team moving through the tournament
Phil Jagielka has revealed England have highlighted the threat Mario Balotelli can pose in a series of videos as Roy Hodgson’s side prepare to face Italy in their World Cup opener on Saturday.
After arriving in Brazil, attention for Hodgson’s side now switches to taking on the Azzurri in Manaus, with Balotelli set to lead the line for Cesare Prandelli’s side.
But Jagielka believes the former Manchester City striker can be neutralised if he isn’t given to space to shoot in and around the box.
“He is a character but he scores goals,” the Everton captain told reporters.
“He has fantastic ability and a fantastic shot on him, particularly the way these [World Cup] balls move.
“We will be desperate to make sure he is not able to strike from distance. Hopefully we will make the right decisions and get the points.”
Balotelli is not the only familiar name the England defence are likely to come up against in South America, with Liverpool’s Luis Suarez set to lead the line for Uruguay in England’s second Group D encounter.
And Jagielka believes coach Gary Neville’s work as a television pundit will bring another perspective to team discussions when making plans to combat certain forwards.
“We have an idea already about the strikers we will face because we know them, but there is so much video to get hold of,” he continued.
“We have three video analysts and Gary Neville is more than capable of taking us through a video or two.
“We have all the equipment we need and we cannot look too far ahead as we have the Italy match. Hopefully we will get that game out the way then look at Uruguay and then Costa Rica.”