Italy midfielder Daniele de Rossi has backed controversial team-mate Mario Balotelli - even though coach Cesare Prandelli admits he has no idea what goes on in the striker's head.

Balotelli took a nerveless penalty in Sunday's Euro 2012 shoot-out win over England on Sunday.

Prior to that, he had failed to take a succession of chances, after enlivening the pre-match press conference with his rather bizarre statement: "I'm more of a man than Peter Pan."

The Manchester City forward seems certain to retain his place for tonight's semi-final against Germany in Warsaw.

But, rather like City boss Roberto Mancini who has said in the past there is no point talking to Balotelli because he does not listen, Prandelli is not going to try any amateur psychology on the 21-year-old.

"I have no real problem with him," said Prandelli.

"It is trying to work out what goes on in the head of a 21-year-old young man.

"In terms of his behaviour, mentality and psychology, he has changed radically with us.

"There are no problems with communication. I'm just curious to see what he is feeling, what sacrifices he is prepared to make to become a great footballer."

As a title winner in both Italy and England, Balotelli could justifiably say he has achieved quite a lot already.

He has also a bulging back-catalogue of more regrettable incidents and appeared to exchange words with De Rossi during the quarter-final.

However, the Roma midfielder was quick to defend his team-mate on Wednesday, insisting there was no need to give him any special treatment.

"Mario is not a difficult character at all," he said.

"We treat him as one of the squad, nothing more, nothing less.

"There is no need for us to have a word with him, that is up to the coach, and we don't need to make any extra effort with him.

"On Sunday I shouted at him at half-time but that has happened thousands of times in my career with players.

"But there are no problems with him and there have never been any. He is a very good player."

The return of Giorgio Chiellini from a thigh injury will strengthen Italy's defence ahead of what is anticipated to be a far more strenuous workout than the one England gave them at the weekend.

Indeed, despite their impressive record of never losing a competitive game to Germany in seven meetings that include the 1982 World Cup final and 2006 last-four confrontation, they are clear underdogs.

Jokingly, Prandelli responded to a question of how Italy intended to combat a younger side, that has won its last 15 games and scores more goals, by saying they would just go home.

What he will not be doing is telling Italy to revert to type, and retreat into their shells after two years of expansive tactics.

"We will not change what has brought us here," said Prandelli.

"It would be a shame to waste the work of the last two years. In fact, we would be lacking in maturity to try to play a different way.

"You must risk a bit to be true to your professional philosophy."

De Rossi is determined to shrug off a back injury to take his place in the Italy team, although he will require a fitness test prior to kick-off.

"It is not a case of being a hero or a warrior," he said.

"I would never give up the opportunity of playing for Italy against Germany, although I would feel the same if it was a match for Roma in the Coppa Italia.

"Okay, I have got a bad back. But I have got a lot of faith in the medical people. There are a few fitness tests tomorrow but I am confident I will make it."