Why Football Needs Balotelli to Demolish Spain in the Final


It would seem on the way to Warsaw ‘Super’ Mario Balotelli managed to pick up a few more of those ‘1up’ mushrooms he found on the way to besieging England in Kiev. Finally all of that bravado, all of that personality, all of that rebellion produced a performance to match the reputation of football’s favourite enfant terrible. Following his demolition of one of the most arrogantly hyped defences in world football, the Mario wagon just rolled out of the garage with a darker blue paint-job and a subwoofer that induces heart palpitations. What’s more? I’m more than happy to jump onboard and I suspect I won’t be alone.

Balotelli’s band wagon is really more of a party boat (the ‘Balotelli Barge’ if you will), a whirlwind of flashing lights, deafening speakers, extravagant cocktails, flecks of questionable white powder and dilated pupils. It’s floating some way off the considerably larger Lionel Messi Yacht however, on board there are well dressed guests enjoying fine wine with delectable hors d’oeuvres whilst being serenaded by a skilled string quartet. They sneer down at the neighbouring boat with its thumping bass and strobe lights, but I think I know where I’d rather be.

When Mario Balotelli skipped past an alahmed Lahm and lashed home his second goal I found myself on my feet yelling his name, a wild grin spread across my face and my eyes wide with excitement – and I thought I was neutral. It was a strike that had pundits such as Alan Shearer on all fours panting and howling (I’m so sorry for making you imagine that).

Instead of sprinting off or waving up to the rapturous Italian fans, he tore off his jersey and glared into oblivion, athletic statuesque body tensed as the world erupted around him. It was a celebration Eric Cantona would have been proud of. Here is a man who has no time for respectfully progressing through his career, here is a man who wants to grab history by the short and curlies and make sure it knows it’s in its best interests to remember his name.

Football needs its Cantonas, its Gascoignes and its Balotellis. They breathe the charisma and personality into the sport that make it so infectious, they are vibrant volatile and visceral; real heroes that cement themselves into memory. They are a welcome change from the baffling yet sometimes bland brilliance of Messi and co.

I imagine that watching Mario hand the German’s a fat serving of their own rear-ends in the semi final had the deified Spanish team feel a rather mortal chill rush up their spines. They won’t be looking forward to facing Italy- that is for certain. Football needs Balotelli to walk out against Spain and fulfil his potential to mark himself as a great player, to give an individual performance worthy of Maradonna that remains pulsing and alive in popular memory.

It is no good being controversial and mediocre – as was very nearly the case with Mario. If you can’t cut it you just end up in the same boat as Joey Barton (his boat leaks, has a sputtering outboard motor and is driven by a scrawny bloke in a fake burberry hat if you were wondering). Balotelli must seize his moment or he will become a quirky footnote in european footballing history. Football needs Balotelli to remind everyone that it is the imperfections and raw features of the sport that make it beautiful. He’s already put one particularly arrogant footballing nation in its place, it’s time to snatch that irritating sense of entitlement from another and throw it to the floor. It’s time we all find out why it’s always him.


I study history. I like sport.

Discussion7 Comments

  1. avatar

    Which is the ‘arrogantly over-hyped defence’? England? ‘Cause he didn’t actually score against us. And it wasn’t really that hyped this year. Or Germany? Is their defence hyped? I’m confused.

    Jack Winter

    Germany have the hyped defence, everyone always goes nuts about Hummells and Lahm


    Jack, I feel you may be throwing the baby out with the bathwater on this one as far as germanys defence is concerned.

    Lahm is class and I don’t think I’d heard Hummels name mentioned before this tournament.

  2. avatar

    “Following his demolition of one of the most arrogantly hyped defences in world football, the Mario wagon just rolled out of the garage with a darker blue paint-job and a subwoofer that induces heart palpitations.”

    I am afraid I don’t quite agree with this Jack. Firstly, as for Mario’s game, pure class for the 60 or so minutes he played. Secondly I would hardly say he “skipped past Lahm” it was more the defence splitting pass from Montolivo that did that for him, granted an incredible finish.

    But more to the point, the german back four over hyped? come on man! Mats Hummels, one half of a centre back partnership that went 28 games back to back unbeaten in the Bundelsiga this season with a Borussia Dortmund side that won the league and cup double. That has to count for something, he’s been class all tournament. Whereas Badstuber is concerned, 23 years old, cemented himself in both Germany and Bayern Munichs back four as the dominant centre back and I have never heard people give him the “hype” that your talking about and as for Philip Lahm, been one of the best full backs in the world for a number of years now. As far as I’m concerned the german defence didn’t even have THAT bad a game yesterday. Just sayin…

  3. avatar
    Richard Windsor

    Mario Balotelli will never produce a performance worthy of Maradona. I’m putting that our there now.

    The sense of entitlement things is also something that grinds my gears. Not just in this article but all over. Spain have gone from being globally admired to scorned within in two years. From my perspective I feel there is little arrogance or feeling of entitlement within the Spain camp, bar the fact that they should take confidence from the fact they’ve won the last two tournaments and are now in another final.

    If we’re looking at arrogance in football, England and the Premier League should take a long hard look at itself before criticising others.

    Jack Winter

    To both Jared and Rich, you’ll have to forgive me, you know I write with a great deal of hyperbole in my articles – of course I am not disregarding the undeniable qualities of two phenomenal football teams, both have been incredible in this tournament.

    Whilst I take on board what you’ve all said, at this moment in time everything hangs in the balance, I don’t think many people would have called what happened in the last game and I don’t think we can make assumptions about Balotelli’s performance in the final. I just hope that he produces something class to upset the balance. I’d have to agree with you though Rich, it is unlikely!

    As for the entitlement issue, I get frustrated by proponents of the idea that there is one true way to play the game and this is how it should be played. When people see a team win without using this possessive style of play they dismiss it as a cheap tactic, as a tactical game surely football is partly about devising a tactic to nullify the other team’s approach? People are saying that all teams ought to play the way Spain do but I’m not sure it’s possible if there isn’t the ability there – you just end up being blunt and boring. There have to be other approaches and these can’t be condescended by the Spanish tactics brigade.

  4. avatar

    This might be unfair to say, but Spain come across as arrogant in their humility, I know that sounds ridiculous, but I think Balotelli is a breath of fresh of air because he’s an out and out bastard. It’s like the distinction between Ronaldo and Messi; Messi is jazz, technically brilliant, brilliantly technical but Ronaldo is soul, he shoots from the hip. Besides, it’s only natural to hate the best team.

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