Balotelli, who spent three years in England playing for Manchester City, feels the Three Lions won’t pose much of a threat for the Azzurri when the two sides meet in their opening World Cup fixture on 14 June.
“I don’t look at England as a team that can win the World Cup,” said the 23-year-old. “They have some good players, but they are no real rivals for Italy.
“I am not saying that Italy are favourites, but we have the mentality and experienced players to surprise people — I don’t think England have that.”
Balotelli, who will be featuring in his first Mundial, feels his side have a distinct advantage against the perennial tournament under-achievers.
“We have players who have won the World Cup, I don’t think England have a player who knows what it is like to play past the quarter-final,” said the AC Milan striker.
‘Super Mario’ feels his team can earn victory against Roy Hodgson’s charges to get their World Cup campaign off to a strong start.
“In the opening game we have to respect England because it is important to get off to a good start,” he said.
“They have maybe two or three players who can hurt us, but we feel well prepared for the tournament and expect to start off with a win.”