Previous
Juventus
Malmo FF
2
0
FT
Game Details
Olympiakos
Atletico Madrid
3
2
FT
Game Details
Liverpool
Ludogorets Razgrad
2
1
FT
Game Details
Real Madrid
FC Basel
5
1
FT
Game Details
AS Monaco
Bayer Leverkusen
1
0
FT
Game Details
Benfica
Zenit St Petersburg
0
2
FT
Game Details
Borussia Dortmund
Arsenal
2
0
FT
Game Details
Galatasaray
Anderlecht
1
1
FT
Game Details
Philadelphia Union
Seattle Sounders FC
1
1
LIVE 90' +6'
Game Details
AFC Bournemouth
Leeds United
1
3
FT
Game Details
Birmingham City
Sheffield Wednesday
0
2
FT
Game Details
Blackpool
Watford
0
1
FT
Game Details
Brentford
Norwich City
0
3
FT
Game Details
Cardiff City
Middlesbrough
0
1
FT
Game Details
Charlton Athletic
Wolverhampton Wanderers
1
1
FT
Game Details
Huddersfield Town
Wigan Athletic
0
0
FT
Game Details
Ipswich Town
Brighton & Hove Albion
2
0
FT
Game Details
Bolton Wanderers
Rotherham United
3
2
FT
Game Details
Reading
Millwall
3
2
FT
Game Details
Waterhouse
DC United
0
2
LIVE 62'
Game Details
Cruz Azul
Chorrillo FC
2
0
LIVE 68'
Game Details
Portland Timbers
Olimpia
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Colchester United
Sheffield United
2
3
FT
Game Details
Doncaster Rovers
Crawley Town
0
0
FT
Game Details
Gillingham
Peterborough United
2
1
FT
Game Details
Milton Keynes Dons
Bradford City
1
2
FT
Game Details
Notts County
Leyton Orient
1
1
FT
Game Details
Port Vale
Bristol City
0
3
FT
Game Details
Preston North End
Chesterfield
3
3
FT
Game Details
Rochdale
Walsall
4
0
FT
Game Details
Scunthorpe United
Coventry City
2
1
FT
Game Details
Swindon Town
Oldham Athletic
2
2
FT
Game Details
Yeovil Town
Crewe Alexandra
1
1
FT
Game Details
AFC Wimbledon
Burton Albion
3
0
FT
Game Details
Bury
Stevenage
2
1
FT
Game Details
Cambridge United
Exeter City
1
2
FT
Game Details
Cheltenham Town
Southend United
0
1
FT
Game Details
Mansfield Town
Morecambe
1
0
FT
Game Details
Northampton Town
Hartlepool United
5
1
FT
Game Details
Oxford United
Accrington Stanley
3
1
FT
Game Details
Plymouth Argyle
Wycombe Wanderers
0
1
FT
Game Details
Portsmouth
Dagenham & Redbridge
3
0
FT
Game Details
Shrewsbury Town
Carlisle United
1
0
FT
Game Details
Tranmere Rovers
Newport County
0
0
FT
Game Details
York City
Luton Town
0
0
FT
Game Details
Aldershot Town
Braintree Town
1
3
FT
Game Details
Alfreton Town
AFC Telford United
3
2
FT
Game Details
Bristol Rovers
Nuneaton Town
3
1
FT
Game Details
Chester City
Southport
2
0
FT
Game Details
Dartford
Dover
2
1
FT
Game Details
Eastleigh
Forest Green Rovers
2
2
FT
Game Details
Halifax
Grimsby Town
1
1
FT
Game Details
Kidderminster Harriers
Altrincham
4
0
FT
Game Details
Macclesfield Town
Gateshead
1
1
FT
Game Details
Torquay United
Woking
1
0
FT
Game Details
Welling
Lincoln City
2
0
FT
Game Details
Barnet
Wrexham
0
1
FT
Game Details
Rangers
Inverness Caledonian Thistle
1
0
FT
Game Details
Al Hilal
Al-Ain
3
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Guadalajara
Tijuana
1
0
LIVE 57'
Game Details
Mérida
Atlante
0
0
LIVE 70'
Game Details
Puebla
Morelia
2
1
LIVE 71'
Game Details
Celaya
Necaxa
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Coras Tepic
Zacatepec
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Dorados de Sinaloa
Mineros de Zacatecas
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Monterrey
Santos
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Toluca
UNAM
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Independiente Terán
Cerro Porteño
1
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Estudiantes La Plata
Gimnasia La Plata
1
0
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
Deportivo Capiatá
Caracas F.C.
1
0
LIVE HT
Leg 1
Game Details
Peñarol
Deportivo Cali
0
0
LIVE HT
Leg 1
Game Details
América Mineiro
Bragantino
0
2
FT
Game Details
Avaí
Sampaio Correa-MA
3
2
FT
Game Details
Goianiense
América RN
2
0
FT
Game Details
Náutico
Joinville
1
2
FT
Game Details
Paraná Clube
Ceará
0
0
FT
Game Details
Portuguesa de Desportos
Boa MG
1
1
FT
Game Details
ABC
AA Ponte Preta
0
0
LIVE 29'
Game Details
Icasa
Vila Nova-GO
0
0
LIVE 17'
Game Details
Luverdense
Santa Cruz FC
0
1
LIVE 31'
Game Details
Oeste
CR Vasco da Gama
1
0
LIVE 19'
Game Details
Bidvest Wits
Amazulu
Postp
Game Details
Kaizer Chiefs
Maritzburg Utd
Postp
Game Details
Next

Zaza and Immobile impress

Italy Sep 8, 2014
Read

Horncastle: Italy roll dice on Conte

Italy Aug 15, 2014
Read

Rodriguez lost control in Italy-Uruguay

World Cup Central Jun 25, 2014
Read

World Cup firsts abound on Matchday 13

Five Aside Jun 24, 2014
Read
 Posted by James Horncastle
Jun 12, 2014

Expect Balotelli to blossom in Brazil

What players will be healthy and what players will start in the World Cup?

On Tuesday morning, one of the great mysteries of Italy's World Cup preparation was solved.

"Finally we know why Cesare Prandelli chose a romantic but faraway place like Mangaratiba as his training base," quipped Marco Ansaldo in La Stampa. "He wanted to help Mario Balotelli in an important decision." That decision was where to propose to his girlfriend, Fanny Neguesha, on her birthday. "She said yes. The most important yes of my life," accompanied the photo in his Instagram feed.

As with anything and everything he does, it generated great discussion. Maybe he'll settle down now? Imagine if Fanny had said no. How would that have affected his mood ahead of the England game on Saturday? And what about the time of the post: 1:00 a.m. in Brazil, 6:00 a.m. in Italy. Shouldn't he have been in bed?

All these questions got column inches and air time on TV programmes and radio stations in Italy. Couldn't they just be happy for him? He's young, in love and even if it was late and he was meant to be asleep, the jet lag has been keeping some of the other squad members up at night, too.

At training later that day, there were words of congratulations and shouts of "bravo." "We applauded and hugged him," Claudio Marchisio revealed. "It's a beautiful thing, but now he has to concentrate on the World Cup like we all do."

- Rzouki: Immobile form key to Azzurri attack
- Prandelli: All striking options are open

Back to the business at hand, indeed. But a smiling and enthused Mario is surely preferable to the broody and irritable version. It must be said that Brazil does appear to have an effect on him, and a good one at that. Maybe it's something in the air, but whenever Balotelli visits he seems in high spirits and free from anxiety.

He first travelled to Brazil when still a teenager in the winter of 2007 to do some charity work in the Mata Escura favela of Salvador de Bahia. Balotelli, then at Inter, went back the following year and returned again last summer when Italy played Brazil during the Confederations Cup. In his downtime, he went for a walk to the beach. The traffic jammed up, people stopped what they were doing; they followed him as if he were Rocky or the Pied Piper.

Some thought Balotelli was crazy to go out with only a couple of security guards for protection. "Weren't you afraid?" he was asked. "Only of the journalists," Balotelli joked. As far as he was concerned, he was one of the locals -- and he tweeted as much.

Brazilians love Balotelli. But then, of course they do. He's playful, skillful, impulsive, gets you off your seat, makes your jaw drop and captures your imagination. Balotelli scored a golaço against them in a friendly in Berne before the Confederations Cup. "If Mario were Brazilian I'd try him out and probably make him play," said the coach of the Seleçao, Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Memories of that match are perhaps what led a section of the Maracana to whistle him in the buildup to Italy's match against Mexico a year ago. Still, they couldn't stay mad at him for long. When Balotelli went off after clinching a late winner for the Azzurri, he received a standing ovation from the crowd. The volleyed back-heel assist he provided Emanuele Giaccherini when Italy met Brazil again in Salvador only added to the sense of wonder about him.

Mario Balotelli is fond of being in Brazil, and a happy Balotelli is a dangerous Balotelli.
Mario Balotelli is fond of being in Brazil, and a happy Balotelli is a dangerous Balotelli.

It was a shame that Balotelli suffered a muscle injury that night, one that ruled him out for the rest of the tournament. He flew home with two goals and an assist in three games. The Brazilians seemed almost as gutted about it as the Italians. They know talent when they see it and can't help but appreciate it.

His name has been Brazilianised. To them he is Balotelé. Some have adopted it for themselves or even been nicknamed after him. Jonathan Boareto dos Reis, a striker for third-division Macaé, goes by the moniker Jonathan Balotelli. There's a Wilker Balotelli on the books of Ponte Preta and a Rogelio Balotelli at Atletico Sorocaba, although he has apparently gone back to his old name, Rogelio Avila.

A phenomenon within football but also outside it, like Neymar, Balotelli transcends his sport. Both have been on the front cover of Time magazine. Both have already been through more hairstyles in their early 20s than many of us will in a lifetime. Both are symbols and carry a similar burden to perform and fulfil their promise. Their nations expect. One is at home. The other home away from home.

Notwithstanding Ciro Immobile's hat trick and two assists against Fluminense, Balotelli is expected to start against England. Some continue to claim that he has to move more. When that was put to him after Milan's defeat to Roma toward the end of this season, Balotelli's reply to Sky Italia pundit Giancarlo Marocchi was, "You don't understand anything about football." The Brazilians do. They get football in its purest sense. One imagines the neutrals in Manaus, Recife and Natal will be on his side.

It's often said of Balotelli that he needs to feel loved to express his best. Engaged this week and able to count on the affection of the host nation, this could well be his tournament.

James Horncastle

James Horncastle is a European Football writer who contributes to ESPN, BBC Sport, Guardian Football Weekly, FourFourTwo and The Blizzard. You can follow him on twitter @JamesHorncastle