Euro 2012: The Tournament where Italy’s ‘Super’ Mario Balotelli matured from a boy to a Man
Euro 2012 will be remembered for a lot of reasons, such as the Dominance and Record-breaking exploits of the Spanish National team, more headed goals than any other Euro Championship Final (22), Fernando Torres becoming the first player to score in two European Finals, while Cristiano Ronaldo hit the woodwork four times, more than any other player in the history of the European Championships. While those facts and countless others, combined have made Euro 2012 a sporting spectacle and one that will go down in history as one of the most successful, however one person for me has come of age in this tournament and has started to live up to his undoubted potential he is the charismatic enigma that is Mario Balotelli.
Andres Iniesta was voted player of the Tournament, while Andrea Pirlo was a close second and showed us all (especially the England Team) that age is nothing but a number and that there is no substitute for quality, technical ability and class. Moreover Iniesta deserved the accolade and at just 28 years of age has already won the World Cup, two European Championships, three European Cups, and five la-liga titles amongst other trophies. Moreover it was Balotelli’s ‘coming of age’ performances that I will remember when i’m am advanced in years, ‘Super’ Mario became the first Italian player to score three goals in a European Championship tournament since 1992, but it wasn’t the goals which impressed me although the two goals he scored against Germany in the semi-final especially his second were exquisite, what impressed me most was his all round game.
On 30th of May 2011, it was announced that Cesare Prandelli the former Fiorentina and Roma Manager would become the manager of the Italian National team other wise known as the ’Azzuri’, now Prandelli promised a different Italian approach rather than the defensive style of play that we have all become accomstomed to seeing Italy play down the years. Under Prandelli, Italy would now play a possession based counter-attacking style and at the Euro’s this style of play was evident for all to see. With Buffon in goal, a back four ( sometimes three) of Abate, Cheillini, Barzagli and Balzaretti, a midfield of Pirlo, De Rossi, Montolivo and Marchisio, and a front two of Cassano and Balotelli. This formation played to Balotelli strenght’s because Italy were compact and tight at the back, while in Midfield they had steel in the shape of De Rossi and Marchisio and guile,finesse and artistry in the shape of Pirlo and Montolivo while up front the creativity and vision of Cassano enabled Balotelli to run into channels and create chances for himself and his team-mates.
Earlier I said that It wasn’t just his three goals that Impressed me but it was his all-round game aswell, Balotelli held up the ball when he needed to, he made intelligent runs, he brought his team-mates into play at the right moments and the biggest thing of all we saw a more matured ’Mario’ unlike what we had seen at Manchester City last season.
Furthuremore Balotelli was told by Cesare Prandelli to ‘ accept that Italy were beaten by a better side in last night’s Euro 2012 final’ now a lot of people have highlighted the fact that after the Final whistle Balotelli stormed off now although i do not condone Balotelli storming off, however him coming back to collect his runner-up medal shows me how quickly and how much he has mutured in a short space of time both as a Player and as a young man. Additionally the most iconic image of the Tournament was Balotelli embracing his adoptive mother after the 2-1 win over Germany, that tells me a lot about Balotelli and it lays waste to his so-called bad-boy image after all how many professional players in front of millions of watching people would hug their mother?
I am certain that Balotelli will return to Man City this season a more mature and consistent player, the experience of Euro 2012 will improve him and i’m sure we will see less of the antics and shanigans last season that took the spotlight away from his football. At Man city Balotelli has everything he needs to fufil his massive potential, he has the right manager in Roberto Mancini, team mates such as Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure who have vast experience and can guide and mentor him plus he is plying his trade in the best league in the world which suits his abilitys and playing style. A lot of credit has to go to Cesare Prandelli and Roberto Mancini because they both stuck with Balotell whereas other coaches such as Jose Mourinho who gave up on Balotelli and quoted that ‘He sometimes does not know how to use his brain’. Both Roberto Mancini and Cesare Prandelli have given Balotelli a platform where he could showcase his skills, i for one am happy they did because we can all see what a remarkable talent Mario Balotelli is.