At club level, Balbo played for Newell's Old Boys (1987–88), River Plate (1988–89), before moving to Italy and Udinese (1989–93), Roma (1993–98 and 2000–02), Parma (1998–99), and Fiorentina. He played four games for Boca Juniors before finally retiring. He scored a total of 138 goals in Serie A; his best seasons came in 1992–93 for Udinese and 1994–95 for Roma, with 22 goals in each of them.
In 2000, Roma paid Fiorentina 1.75 billion Italian lire to re-sign him and offered him a two-year contract with 1.7 billion annual salary before tax.
For Argentina, Balbo scored 11 goals in 37 caps, and played at the 1990, the 1994, the 1998 FIFA World Cups, the 1989 and 1995 Copas América. In the 1995 tournament in Uruguay, Balbo partnered Gabriel Batistuta in attack, and scored a goal against Brazil's Claudio Taffarel in an infamous quarter-final game that Argentina eventually lost in a penalty shootout after Brazilian striker Tulio Costa scored the Brazilian equalizer with 10 minutes to go – after clearly controlling the ball with his arm.
After his retirement, Balbo eventually became a musician, performing songs in Italian and Spanish. He took his UEFA Pro coaching badges in 2007, and currently works as a football commentator for RAI Radio1.
On February 2009 he took his first head coaching job, succeeding to Luca Gotti as manager of bottom-table Serie B club Treviso. He resigned only a few rounds later, on 18 March, after having achieved only one point in four games, citing lack of professionalism and organizational issues as the main reasons for his choice to step down as Treviso manager.
On November 2010 he was appointed as new technical area coordinator and assistant coach of Serie D club Atletico Arezzo until the end of the season.
In the season 2012–13 he coached the Serie D club Arezzo from the start of the season until 30 October 2012, when he left by mutual consent with the club.
He is currently working as football commentator in a RAI sport program called Stadio Sprint.
Abel Balbo is married and a practising Roman Catholic.Newell's Old Boys
Argentine Primera División: 1988
Coppa Italia: 1998–99
UEFA Cup: 1998–99
Serie A: 2000–01
Supercoppa Italiana: 2001
FIFA World Cup: 1990 runner-up
Copa América: 1989 bronze medalist
Serie B Top-Scorer: 1990–91(22 Goals, with Udinese)