No Balotelli in Italy squad for Spain and Macedonia matches

ROME — There is still no place for Mario Balotelli in the Italy squad as coach Gian Piero Ventura named a largely unchanged 26-man list Saturday for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Spain and Macedonia.

Balotelli has netted four goals in his past two league matches for Nice but missed last week’s Ligue 1 game with injury and was forced off at halftime in the Europa League with illness, after scoring against Krasnodar.

Italy is largely unchanged from the squad which won 3-1 in Israel in its opening qualifying match for the 2018 World Cup, days after losing a friendly to France.

That was Ventura’s first match in charge, having taken over from Antonio Conte, who left for Chelsea after guiding Italy to the quarterfinals of the European Championship.

Italy beat Spain 2-0 in the round of 16 in France, ending Spain’s bid for a third successive title.

Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin, midfielders Domenico Criscito (Zenit St. Petersburg) and Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), and Villareal forward Nicola Sansone return for Italy.

Perin replaces injured Lazio goalkeeper Federico Marchetti as one of the reserves to Gianluigi Buffon, along with AC Milan’s teenage shotstopper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The 17-year-old Donnarumma became the youngest goalkeeper to ever play for the Azzurri, and the youngest Italian player overall in modern times, when he replaced Buffon at halftime against France last month.

Italy plays Spain in Turin on Thursday, before travelling to Skopje, where it faces Macedonia on Sunday.

Defender Giorgio Chiellini is suspended for the match against Spain.


Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa).

Defenders: Davide Astori (Fiorentina), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham), Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan).

Midfielders: Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina), Giacomo Bonaventura (AC Milan), Antonio Candreva (Inter Milan), Domenico Criscito (Zenit St. Petersburg), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain).

Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Eder (Inter Milan), Manolo Gabbiadini (Napoli), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Graziano Pelle (Shandong Luneng), Nicola Sansone (Villareal).

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